Editor’s Note: This summary has been written with the assumption that you have played thru the original game most of the way. Article originally written in 2008
Portal: Prelude is a mod for the outrageously popular game Portal, which was released as part of the Orange Box set from Valve. Originally released on October 9th 2008, Portal was a puzzle game that had a non speaking character simply named “Chell” who was part of an Aperture Labs experiment with a new technology called the portal gun. This gun would allow you to put two portals on most surfaces, which you would use to solve the games many “levels” or test chambers.
The game received much praise for it’s level of ground-breaking level design, creative story telling, and of course, its dark humor. It was in this game that we were introduced to the memes of “The Cake Is A Lie”, “Still Alive” and we began our love affair with an inanimate cube. The game was so good that it has been mentioned as Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw’s favorite games, with which he can find very little flaws. Ben is a noted game reviewer and creator of the web-exclusive show called “Zero Punctuation” where he takes a humorous approach to reviewing new and current videogames.
After Portal came out, many websites began to host user-created mods or additional puzzles that they had created themselves and wanted to share with the world, free of charge.
Along with the emerging popularity of the user created content came “Portal: The Flash Version” where the whole game was flattened into 2D and the story was carried out in a small flash game that could be played in your Internet browser. This led to a map pack for the 3D game to be created, based off of the flash game. Then, in January 2008, Nicolas “NykO18” Grevet decided to take it upon himself and a small team to create what would become an enormously popular mod called “Portal: Prelude” which would take place prior to the previous storyline and would include a whole new cast of characters, puzzles, and all-new content.
The project started as a few new test chambers, but once the number of levels grew, Nicolas decided to release them as an unofficial prequal to Portal. This came at a bad time because Valve announced that there was to be an official prequal to be released sometime in the near future. This led to Nicolas and the team to work twice as hard to put their version out before Valve’s.
Portalprelude.com was launched, and the team gave updates to their eagerly awaiting audience almost daily. The official launch of the game is today, but I was able to get my grubby little hands on a copy thanks to a pre-release at Fileplanet. Let me tell you folks, this game was worth the wait!
First off, the game stars a brand new character that has been put to the test by Aperture. There is no GlaDOS becase “she” hasn’t been plugged in yet, so all the tests are watched over by Aperture Science employees, when they aren’t talking to a “Bureaucratic-looking man”. The levels are very challenging but seem to not go up in difficulty, but yet fluctuate. This is the hardest mod I have played in the Portal series so far, including the Portal Flash Version Mappack. If Portal was a 7 in difficulty, and the Flash pack was an 8, then Portal Prelude would have to be about a 9-10. But keep in mind that it’s not a constant 9-10. I will admit that I had to cheat to get through a few levels, and though I’m not proud of that fact, it was necessary to get through the game far enough to comfortably do a review of it.
If you’re a fan of the Portal series and love a good challenge, then definitely get this mod. This isn’t just another map pack, it’s more of a full game. And it takes about as long as the other two to finish.
I can’t comment on the visuals because I have to turn down all of the settings on my laptop to make current generation games playable, and I have no money to upgrade. The voice acting was mediocre, but keep in mind that it was all synthesized voices, so that is why they come off sounding robotic. The puzzles are challenging, and could require more patience than previous installments. But this isn’t a game you can just finish in a few hours like Portal, because if you’re like me, you’re going to have to make multiple attempts at the puzzles to get through them.
If you would like to download and play this game yourself, their site is http://www.portalprelude.com