Out of all the superb titles released in 2007, Portal most effortlessly takes the cake. The true star of The Orange Box saw a talented team from DigiPen snatched up by Valve and ultimately transformed from students into teachers. Gamers and designers alike must play Portal, not only because it's so sublimely designed from start to gripping finish, but because there's so much to learn from it.
The game is phenomenal in every sense of the word, its deviously delirious guide and antagonist, GlaDOS, already running rampant online as a fully fledged and infinitely quotable meme. It certainly speaks volumes of its witty writing when the game's other widely recognized star is nothing more than a vaguely endearing block. The intelligence isn't merely confined to the game's dialogue either -- it permeates every aspect of Portal's "Aha!" puzzles and perfectly paced progression. There is no filler here.
When the seemingly unconnected room-based challenges give way to a daring escape attempt and a climactic showdown, the game's genius is not only revealed, but heard in the form of Jonathan Coulton's "Still Alive" ending song. Inescapably catchy and completely cognizant of its audience, it marks the perfect conclusion to this year's smartest and most focused game.
Please accept our cake, Portal, but for the good of all of us, don't eat it! We don't want you getting fat like all those other games.
Joystiq's Top 10 of 2007
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