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X08: Hands-on Portal: Still Alive (XBLA)

A buzzing noise fills the room as you are shaken awake. Bright lights bounce off the windowed walls of your 4 foot by 5 foot holding cell, making them twice as bright. As you rise from your bed and adjust your eyes a timer clicks from beyond your transparent walls and immediately you can't help but to fear you've seen this all before.

Portal: Still Alive is the upcoming Xbox Live Arcade title based on the critically acclaimed original found in The Orange Box from Valve. Those who were unfortunate enough to never play the original Portal are in luck as Portal: Still Alive is essentially the exact same experience but with a few added bonuses.

"With Portal: Still Alive, you're getting the original game that comes in The Orange Box," an Xbox representative told us. Experienced players need not worry, however, as Portal: Still Alive will sport, "a host of new levels and new achievements." As recently confirmed by Doug Lombardi, some of the new levels included are the maps found in Portal: The Flash Version map pack, currently available for free on the PC.

Explaining how Portal: Still Alive feels is harder than you'd imagine it would be. It would be easy to say it felt like Portal -- since it is exactly that -- but one key element was missing from our hands-on time: the sound. Forget the enigmatic pops and buzzing noises emitted from turrets, the metallic bounce of energy orbs or the whizzing noise of a freshly summoned portal; removing the sound made us realize how important the dialog was to Portal's success. While sounds will be included in the final build of the game (breaking news!) the noisy atmosphere helped to confirm one of our lingering fears: with no new audio from fan favorite GLaDOS for the bonus levels, Portal: Still Alive feels lifeless.

If your wish for Portal: Still Alive is extra challenges with a disregard for story, then this Arcade release is exactly what you want (and it controls as well as it ever has with an Xbox 360 controller). However, if you're not okay with the lack of any story elements, Still Alive may have you worried that the Portal train is making an unnecessary stop on Microsoft's Arcade.

Portal: Still Alive
is slated to release exclusively on the Xbox Live Arcade by the end of the year.

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