It's been a while. Hi.
I've been playing through Mortal Kombat 9 and Portal as of late and I've been enjoying both for different reasons.
I've always been a MK fan. I get a bit of grief from the hardcore fighting game elitst friends for liking the game, but I appreciate it for what it offers.
Is it a deep fighting system like parrying in Street Fighter 3? No.
Is it as reactionary with throws like Virtua Fighter? Not so much.
Can I break ribs, gouge eyeballs and cut people in half? Yes.
That's not to say it doesn't have depth, but Mortal Kombat has always been about playing the game with a crowd so they can laugh at the ridiculous violence. The air juggles and combos are fun to learn, and input is intuitive enough to accomplish. Throws feel balanced with blocking, so the player is never stuck by cheap defensive tactics.
The X-Ray mode (press both shoulder buttons when the meter is full and you take 30-50% off opponents health if landed correctly) feels as if it's a game changer that is too easy to initiate. Sitting back and watching your health disappear is about as painful as watching the X-Rays themselves. They are perfect for players just getting into the game, but added to an accomplished opponent means you die faster and easier. I feel though, that Breakers lost their usefulness like in Armageddon, where those were the game changers, not the X-Rays.
I'd say I got my MK fix out of this, and I'm glad I picked it up. It's perfect to pull out at parties, but I don't know that I would be as devoted to mastery like Street Fighter.
As for Portal 2. . . It's Portal 2. Valve spending 4 years of development on the Portal License. How could it be bad? I love that they've gone outside of the usual testing room thematics and it feels more like you are using the environment than a predetermined test. Adding the gels were a great way to vary the puzzles without complicating things too greatly.
My only complaint is that because everything is linear (including the multiplayer) it means that once you go through it. . . there is no real need to play it again. I would have loved to have seen a Portal game type that would have been death match based. (Kill people using a Death Cube, Use Environmental Objects, Hazards, etc.) Really I just want more because I am greedy, but otherwise that game is amazing. Great level design, awesome writing, fantastic art and puzzles that make me feel brilliant when I solve them. Go buy it.