Just about everyone has either heard of or played Portal. Valve has once again created something unique in a genre that tends to run stale at times. I bought the Orange Box mostly for Team Fortress 2, But now the real star of the Orange Box is Portal. In this short game, I did something I hadn't done in a long time playing a FPS:
Lose track of time.
I literally was planning on only playing a few stages then jump into so TF2 action. Three hours and some minutes later there I was done with the game. Yes, it was that good. If you haven't played it yet please do, you'll be pleasantly surprised...If you haven't been reading video game blogs then well you probably know whats gonna happen, but take it from someone who had the ending spoiled for them when I say it was still worth playing.
Anyways, the real reason for this post is about Portal but not to just say how awesome it is. It made think about great games. Portal is a great game people will probably be quoting it for generations in the game industry. However, three months from now, will this all just be a passing fad? Portal is a wonderful game but will people really remember the companion cube? The reason I say this is because Portal is Orange Box's Dark Horse, it wasn't heavily advertised like TF2 or Halo 3. It was just there and it shined. Sure I remember hearing a little about it here and there but TF2 and especially Halo 3 have been sent out as the thing to get. Halo 3 pretty much was being advertised as the greatest game of all time. For a good week after its release Halo 3 was dominating Kotaku's posts with everything from action figures to fan videos. When you compare that to Kotaku's posts about Portal, Halo still dominates it. My fear was that the game that has wonderful design will just fade. Just a another fad in the game industry.
But there are 2 main reasons Portal may survive the short attention span the industry has:
1) Valve is smart. Whether its a mod community or multiplayer, it will help keep it alive. The Mod community keep a game alive well past its prime. I still remember reading PC Gamer top 100 games for 3 years in a row after Half-Life came out. Each year Half-Life was number one, It blew my mind simply because no game ever lasted a year. The reason they kept giving it the award was the Mod community. New mods like Counterstrike and Day of Defeat were popping up all the time.
2) The other advantage is that since there was no hype machine, there will be less hesitance to place it as a "great game of all time". Hype and advertising sell your game to make money but at the cost of people avoiding just because of all the hype. Portal's hype is more word of mouth and less corporate advertising. I don't know about anyone else but I'll take a friends word that game is good over a two page advertisement in a magazine.
Portal may not be a 30 hour epic or a "cultural revolution" but it will be a game I look at when I want to see how to make a great game.