Great moments in PC gaming: Shooting the moon in Portal 2

Great moments in PC gaming are bite-sized celebrations of some of our favorite gaming memories.

Portal 2

A robot leaps into a portal

(Image credit: Valve)

Year: 2011
Developer: Valve

Years later, I still can't get Portal 2 out of my head. I remember my first playthrough during freshman year of high school, tearing through the inventive puzzles and continuously thinking to myself, "How does this game start so good and never let up?" I wanted to go on forever banging my head on the latest test chamber while GladOS comes to terms with her potato form and Wheatley tries his best to sound threatening. It was my own little puzzle-cracking paradise.

As much as I was dreading the end, it was for the best. Portal 2's climax elevates a fantastic game to damn-near perfect. Portal 2's final chapter is a bombardment of time-sensitive puzzles meant to flex the portaling part of the brain you've been growing over the previous 10 hours. Light bridges, tractor beams, turrets, bombs, gels—nothing is off-limits as Wheatley tries and fails to smash Chell between spiked steel plates he's way too proud of.

And then you reach Wheatley's unimpressive lair for the final showdown. Is the fight supremely easy? Yes. Were the solutions to his simplistic bomb-throwing telegraphed from a mile away? Sure, but this is Wheatley we're talking about, so it's appropriate. What really cemented the fight is the moment Chell is fading, Wheatley gloating above an open portal, and the ceiling cracks open to reveal an idea so dumb that it just might work. Shoot. The. Moon.

I knew immediately what the game was suggesting I do and still hesitated as I picked my jaw up off the floor. After two games spent in cramped underground test chambers, throwing a portal across the *checks math* 238,000 miles to the lunar surface was a huge step up. I braced for the worst as I finally pulled the trigger and sucked the entire room into space. Wheatley wasn't thrilled with his new digs, but at least the corrupted Space Sphere got his wish.

Reminiscing about Portal is as sad as it is fun nowadays. Back in 2011, we didn't know that Valve would place new game development on the backburner while it maintained its multiplayer moneymakers and continued to grow Steam. Half-Life: Alyx has given me some new hope that we may return to Portal some day, but we'll see

Morgan Park
Staff Writer

Morgan has been writing for PC Gamer since 2018, first as a freelancer and currently as a staff writer. He has also appeared on Polygon, Kotaku, Fanbyte, and PCGamesN. Before freelancing, he spent most of high school and all of college writing at small gaming sites that didn't pay him. He's very happy to have a real job now. Morgan is a beat writer following the latest and greatest shooters and the communities that play them. He also writes general news, reviews, features, the occasional guide, and bad jokes in Slack. Twist his arm, and he'll even write about a boring strategy game. Please don't, though.