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Portal, Steam and OS X: A Mini Review

Posted 05-12-2010 at 11:13 PM by Seph64

System Setup
Mac Mini
Intel Core 2 Duo 2.26 GHZ
2GB of Ram (256MB of which is shared with the graphics Device)
GeForce 9400M
Snow Leopard (updated to 10.6.3)

I am going to get this out of the way first. Yes, the game doesn't perform as well as I would have liked. But that's mostly the fault of the system I chose (9400M is not the greatest GPU out there). And some of the fault, at least according to what I read around several places on the net, is due to the fact that the OSX drivers aren't up to par. Hopefully the next update (10.6.4) will help fix this issue when Apple releases it.

However if I set the resolution to 1280x800 (native res on the monitor I am using is 1920x1200, so the resolution I am using isn't ideal), it's playable. Although with a few stuttering when placing Portals.

The Game
There's no denying, I love Portal. It's one of the games that kept me coming back for more, not because of it's longevity (although the challenge and advanced test chambers do that somewhat), but because I am absolutely in love with this game. I love the puzzles. I love GlaDoS. I just love everything about this game.

Well anyway, it's basically a 3D First Person Puzzle game. The main gameplay mechanic is the the Portal Gun. With it, you place portals around places to solve the puzzles the game gives to you. And the main objective is to escape the Enrichment Center before the game's antagonist kills you. That's the Gist of it.

The Small Things
One of the things that surprised me when I first played Portal on OSX is that tabbing out of the game is seamless. It's so fast, you'll probably not need the steam overlay at all. Back on Windows, if you found that you needed to tab out of the game for whatever reason, it took close to a minute for the OS to minimize the game and bring up whatever has the priority afterwards. And of course, when you return to the game, it took about the same amount of time. Sometimes it would even cause the game to crash. So thumbs up to Valve, or whoever is responsible for this miracle. It came in handy when I thought the game froze and wanted to get to a terminal to close the game forcefully (luckily, it didn't freeze, was just taking a long time to load up).

Final Verdict
Valve once again proves that they are a great game development studio that does awesome things. Although Steam didn't launch with all of it's Source games (which will be rectified in the coming weeks), it did launch with a good number of 3rd party titles.

I look forward to what Valve does in the future.
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