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Portal 2 review: Your questions answered

Is the story good? Can I play it with a joypad?

Last week we asked you to submit your questions for our Portal 2 review and with internet verdicts now live, here are our answers to the most asked reader questions...

Socheeky asks: Is there a lengthy challenge and replay value for the solo game, given that Valve have designed half of the sequel for co-op play?

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As you'll know if you've read our review, replayability is our only major criticism of Portal 2. Although both solo and co-op campaigns are fantastic (you really should check out the latter - we challenge you not to love it), they're ultimately both plot-driven and linear experiences.

Bizarrely Valve's opted not to include the scoring and time challenge features of Portal: Still Alive (DLC?), so once you're done there's little reason to go back - and we finished solo in seven and a half hours, co-op in four.

The game's Achievements and Trophies, as with the Left 4 Dead games, are admittedly fun to chase and could encourage you to replay a few chambers if you're into upping your Gamerscore/Platinum count (there are a few decent co-op-themed ones too, such as time challenges and portal count limits).

Valve's Director's Commentary Mode too, as always, could warrant another walkthrough if you fancy listening to the developer's tricks and trials in coming up with the final game - but we wish we didn't have to trudge through all of the chambers and cut-scenes to get to them.

Mark240473 asks: Can you complete co-op missions in any order, rather than having to complete the whole game with the same person?

The co-op campaign is presented via a hub world split into various themed "classes" ("Mass and Velocity", "Hard Light Surfaces", "Excursion Tunnels" etc). So yes, it's possible to progress through the game in chunks with different online partners.

In fact, the game's Achievements/Trophies actively encourage it; there's one for hugging three different players, for example.

PRM8 asks: How easy/hard is it to control the aim, movement and quite importantly for Portal, momentum using a control pad?

As with any FPS the 'twitch factor' means you'll always be a bit more responsive with a PC mouse compared to a console joypad. That said, we definitely preferred the console version of the original Portal to its PC counterpart - and we feel the same about the sequel.

Of all of Valve's creations, Portal lends itself most to the laid-back couch experience, where little quick-fire aiming is required and you'll spend plenty of time out pondering how to solve the next puzzle.

Altitude2k asks: Are we going to be disappointed if we're expecting any hints of the Half-Life variety?

Probably, yes.

Don't expect Half-Life 3; the references don't go beyond a few mentions of Black Mesa (and in fact all Half-Life sound effects have been removed), but do expect strong dialogue, scenes of epic proportions and to eventually learn Aperture's darkest secrets.

Craiglackenby asks: Is there a steep learning curve? I'm guessing there will be a lot of n00b-comers to Portal 2 just like me...

Valve's put extra effort into making sure new players can easily get to grips with the sequel. Puzzles expectedly start progressively, initially restricting you to environment-set portals, then allowing you to set down a single hole etc...

Because of this forgiving start, veterans will naturally cruise through the opening sections, but thanks to GlaDOS's consistently entertaining banter you won't really care.

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