I've spent much of tonight and last night (about six hours total) playing Portal 2. For the uninitiated, the first Portal was a game included in the Orange Box bundle, which was mainly comprised of Half-Life 2 games. The game took the 3D engine of a first-person shooter, and made puzzles with it. Using a device that makes portals on flat surfaces, you can move your character or objects through the portal pair, getting to places otherwise inaccessible, or manipulating your movement to take advantage of physics. For example, if you put a portal on a wall high up, and put the other portal at the bottom of a long drop and jump into it, your vertical motion is converted to horizontal motion and you're "shot" out of the portal on the wall.
The first appeal to the game was that they took something known for pointless violence, the first-person shooter, and totally turned it on its side. You never fight anyone, and you don't shoot anyone or anything (though the portal device I suppose is a "gun" of sorts). The next great thing about it is that the puzzles you have to solve are so clever. Most don't require any kind of "physical challenge" gaming trick. You just have to figure out what the right things are to do to get through the level. The design is just completely brilliant.
What made the game even more fun was the simple story line. When you start, you have no idea why you're even in there. A computer is guiding you through this test facility "for science," eventually turning on you and attempting to kill you. In the end, you have to destroy her. It turns out, she killed everyone else.
It wasn't a long game, but it was completely fun and engaging. I think most people would've been happy just to get a sequel with new levels, but they went all out. It appears that you learn more about who you are, where the evil computer came from, the history of Aperture Science (the company conducting the tests you're doing), etc. It took everything I had to stop playing tonight. I desperately want to know how it ends, solving puzzles along the way. It has already taken an epic turn.
There are also an entire set of co-op levels to play. I'll dive into those with Diana when I get through the single-player.
I wish the video game industry made more games like this. It's interesting how a relatively small number of games appeal to me, yet when I do find one that I like, I'm totally into it.