Portal 2: even a broke down clock knows what time it is twice a day

, | Game diaries

My son Aaron is deep in thought on his side of the couch.

Playing Portal 2 with him is like playing any first person shooter game with God mode turned on. You really don’t have to worry much about playing the game. You simply move from level to level with impunity, unlocking the game’s secrets or collecting its rewards. This is how I like to play most first person shooters. I am a completest gamer. That means that I play first person shooters to know every secret panel, locked room, or Easter egg and, really, not much else. I think it comes from growing up in the 70s in a big family without much money. I want to wring every ounce of value that I can from the game. I do not want to be killed, blocked, or even low on health. I am perfectly willing to seek out cheats so that I can have the most powerful and devastating weapons, even on trivial training levels.

That’s just how I roll.

After the jump, R.E.S.P.E.C.T.: Find out what it means to me! Sock it to me, sock it to me. . .

Aaron has zipped us through the first two levels in the Portal 2 multiplayer campaign and I have been enjoying the scenery. However, despite my completest tendencies, playing the game this way actually started to feel a little humiliating. I had to ask him to slow down a bit and let me at least get a sense for the challenge before he immediately solved it. He agreed. He’s not trying to humiliate me or anything. He’s just (apparently) really good at Portal 2.

But now we are halfway through the third level and the puzzles are getting harder.

We’ve sort of naturally slowed down and now I am getting a better feel for the game. I wanted us to use this game for our diary mostly because it’s not a first person shooter. That’s the kind of game Aaron plays most — Call of Duty, Modern Warfare (one I’m not sure the name of because he deftly pulls it from the CD tray whenever his mother and I pull up into the driveway). I wanted to have a chance to contribute something.

I plant my portal on the single wall where it will stick on this level. I walk back to the little glowing causeway Aaron has erected. This is what we’ve been doing for, say, the last five, ten minutes. Bored, I put my other portal over Aaron’s portal with the little bridge running through it. I expect my portal to replace his and destroy the bridge. But instead the bridge remains intact.

“What did you do?” Aaron says.

I’m about to apologize, but then Aaron goes: “You figured it out!”

“I did?” I don’t even try to act like I knew what I was doing.

Aaron is all animated now. He repeats what I did two more times and gets us where we need to go to end the level. We do high fives on screen and off.

Portal 2? I kind like this game.

Have we learned our lesson yet, dear reader? No, not really. We reveal the real secret of Portal 2 tomorrow in “Slower than a game of chess, but with cooler physics.”

Click here for the previous Portal 2 entry.

Tim Elhajj lives in Bellevue, Washington. His first book, Dopefiend: A Father’s Journey from Addiction to Redemption is forthcoming from Central Recovery Press in September 2011.