Dear Valve: Forget Half-Life 3, Just Gimme Portal 3
Yeah, I get it. The majority of the gaming world views Half-Life as a legendary, untouchable franchise. I liked it, too. I've never been as enamored with the series as others, nor do I believe the games deserve a fraction of the praise they receive, but I get the fascination. I also appreciate the part Half-Life played in the evolution of the first-person shooter.
That all being said, as I stated in a previous article, I'm bored with shooters. I'm perfectly aware that Valve is capable of making a fantastic Half-Life 3. They might even be able to infuse some much-needed innovation into the FPS genre. I hope they do.
Above all else, though, I want a new Portal. Half-Life has a lot going for it but in my estimation, the puzzle-based franchise is downright ingenious.
Portal 2 was monumentally impressive
The game received widespread critical acclaim when it launched back in 2011, and rightfully so. It was excellent. However, despite all the praise, I think many critics and gamers weren't pinpointing why it was so excellent. The reason didn't have anything to do with the basic aspects, such as the control. Nor did it center on the inherent challenge or the story (even though I can't imagine Portal 2 without Wheatley).
Here's what was so unbelievably impressive about that production: The puzzles weren't just wonderfully diverse, they were also perfectly designed from a development standpoint. Do you know how difficult it is to produce such complex puzzles and not have a major glitch somewhere? I kept thinking that there had to be a way to "break" a puzzle. I'd fall to a position from which I couldn't escape, and I'd have to die. Or, when playing co-op, my partner would screw it up and we'd have to start the puzzle over. They'd get stuck in a wall, get lost behind a door, whatever.
That isn't what happened, though. These puzzles were perfectly paced and perfectly stable. They tested various aspects of problem-solving and furthermore, they scaled back the secondary element, which was the platforming. This meant that people who just love to work their brains could play. It meant my girlfriend, who is most certainly not a gamer, could sit and solve those puzzles, enjoying herself the whole time. Sure, she'd have to get a handle on the controls but the focus remained on the puzzles throughout.
On top of which, the step-by-step approach to solving each puzzle was intricately presented. If you tried to skip a step, if you attepted to reach the goal prematurely, it wouldn't work. It encouraged patience, observation, diligence, and creative thinking--all at once. That's why it was so damn good.
We've got enough shooters. We don't have ANYTHING like Portal
Honestly, is there anything even remotely similar to Portal? Sure, we still get cool puzzle games here and there, but nothing is quite as skillfully presented, nothing is quite so rewarding (in my eyes) as Portal 2. That's what we need now. We need all of that to return for the new generation. We're guaranteed to get plenty of shooters. There are several that already get plenty of headlines (Titanfall leaps to mind). Valve, if you want to impress us, give us Portal 3.
The Half-Life fans can just keep waiting, as far as I'm concerned.