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Game of the Month: April

It’s that time again. That time when the mysterious bunch behind the words that you read on this site come together to put their case forward for their favourite game of the past month.
Will it be the high-octane, adrenaline fueled Need for Speed: Shift 2 Unleashed? The mind-bending Portal 2? The “uncompromising wierdness” of Cargo!? Or Outland’s dazzling take on the 2D shooter genre?
As ever we’d love to hear your pick for Game of the Month in the comments and tell us why you agree/disagree with our pick/s. 
Note: To be eligible for Game of the Month, the game must have been released in the UK between the first and last day of the respective month.
Tim McDonald – Portal 2
I’m going to make a prediction right now that everyone else on the team has also picked Portal 2. If I’m wrong, I doubt I’ll be out by more than one person.
Surprisingly, this wasn’t a foregone conclusion for me. Outland swooped in at the last moment (read our Outland review here), providing a fluid and beautiful platforming experience for a ridiculously low price. It nearly toppled Valve’s new release from the peak of my internal ‘Favourite Game At This Particular Second’ chart.
The thing is that Valve’s new release is a Valve release. It’s unbelievably good. It’s mind-bendingly clever, it’s well-written, and genuinely funny. Oh, it sags a little in the middle, but it’s got so many good ideas and so many wonderful moments that one slightly less-than-brilliant section doesn’t come close to tarnishing its overall quality. Plus – let’s face it – a less-than-brilliant section for Valve is still better than the best bits of most other games. There’s also the amazingly well-designed co-op campaign
So yes, Portal 2 wins out. Sorry Outland, but know this: it was a close call, and there’s no shame in losing out to Valve.

Peter Parrish – Portal 2
It’s tempting to play the contrarian and select Cargo! on the basis of its uncompromising weirdness, but I’m going to go with what I suspect will be the consensus and say Portal 2.
What impresses me most is just how funny the series still is. This, I imagine, has a lot to do with the former Old Man Murray staff being on-board at Valve. Every single area in the game features deceptively effortless one-liners and (that ill-advised closing song aside) everything feels fresh. This reinvigoration extends to the puzzles, too. Players are eased in with a few familiar rooms, but Portal 2 is quick to introduce unobtrusive new features that add novel twists. Likewise, the… well, I’ll be vague and say ‘new areas’… slip seamlessly into the Portal mythology, but also provide a new take on the setting.
Finally; the co-op. Tim and I played through the first couple of hours and found it to be terrific addition. Essentially an entirely separate campaign, it adds the brain-bending concept of having to think with double the usual number of portals and does so with great success.
So, Valve, when can we expect to see Half Life 3?


John Robertson – Portal 2
After awarding it a 9.6, what else could I possibly choose but Portal 2? A fine example of how iteration can triumph over complete re-design, Portal 2 manages to feel fresh without losing what made it so enjoyable the first time around.
What’s perhaps most impressive is the way Valve expertly work story, character and dialogue into a game rooted in the puzzle genre – a genre that usually shuns such elements, viewing them as superfluous to design and overall structure. Portal 2 demonstrates that when a narrative is well-planned and the players are treated as intelligent individuals, drama, intrigue and humour (as well as a first-person perspective) can work no matter what the genre.
Add to that the co-op component, the cross-platform play, the recently announced free DLC, the new puzzle elements/tools and the voice of Steven Merchant and you’ve got yourself the game of the year thus far.
It deserves to be played. You deserve to play it.
Our review of Portal 2 be found here.

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