Portal for Android Review
It’s crazy to think that technology moves forward so quickly, that console/PC games from just a few years ago are now getting Android and iOS ports to mobile devices. We have seen everything from Grand Theft Auto III/Vice City/San Andreas to Mount and Blade games make their way to our phones and tablets, and now we can add one of the most critically acclaimed games of all time to that growing list, Valve’s ‘Portal’.
Portal will be available to Android devices on May 12th for just $9.99. For the purpose of this review, I was provided with the game for my SHIELD, and honestly, a device like the SHIELD is really the way to go when you are playing a game like Portal. I wouldn’t choose touch-screen controls as my first choice for a game like this, instead I enjoyed the full-sized controller with a 5 inch screen, not to mention the ability to play on my TV via Console Mode. Personally, the SHIELD is my device of choice for Portal.
The game itself hasn’t changed at all from the original; this is a near perfect port. The only difference is a slight drop in graphical quality, but it’s barely noticeable unless you are comparing the two. The Tegra 4 in the SHIELD is an impressive chip, but at the end of the day Portal running on a gaming PC will always look better. This isn’t to to say that Portal for Android looks “bad” as a matter of fact, I’m impressed with the quality the SHIELD was able to put forth. The only time I really noticed any drop in texture quality, or some ‘jaggies’ is when I played the game on my HDTV via the SHIELD’s Console Mode. Having a game stretched out on a 55” TV reveals some issues that you might not have noticed on a 5” screen. That being said the game is still a great looking port.
For those who own a SHIELD device, you may be asking the benefits of buying Portal for Android when you could just stream the original PC version via Gamestream to the SHIELD. That’s a valid argument and honestly if you intend to use your SHIELD mainly at home or work (or wherever else you have a good wifi signal) there isn’t a clear-cut answer. If you don’t already own the game, then this the purchase is a no brainer, Get it! If you want to move outside of the home, and have more options playing outside the living room, then that’s where the port comes in.
There is something liberating about having the game available as a standalone without being at the mercy of a wifi connection however, while Gamestream works really well for me personally, I also provide the optimized setup for it. Having both the correct type of router in my living room, and having my couch less than 6 feet away from it, it allows me to never experience any lag, but I am practically sitting right on top of my router. If I move to the next room over however, the quality starts to drop, and the Gamestream starts to stutter and lag. Head upstairs and all bets are off, making the standalone port the mobile superior.
Streaming via wifi is hit or miss with me at times, and that’s just in my own home. When I think about instances that don’t have an optimal router setup, or trying to stream on a public wifi channel, things get even bleaker. While testing though curiosity got the better of me, and I headed to the local Starbucks to try out Portal for PC via Gamestream, just to compare. I was eventually able to connect but the game froze up on the main menu during my testing, not a good experience and even though my triple mocha was delicious, I was not able to enjoy Portal.
The argument I’m trying to make is yes, Portal is already available on the SHIELD to some degree, if you accept that you will need to meet certain parameters first in order to enjoy it. Portal for Android is the next logical step to offer the same experience without the constraints. Just fire it up and go, and in no time you can start listening to the silky, psychotic sounds of GlaDOS egging you on.
All the while you want to start ripping your hair out in frustration as you play through one of the best games ever created. While on the go you can ponder that just five years ago, it would have been unthinkable to allow this game to be played in the palm of Your hands, on the bus.