EVERY WORD in this review is a few brief moments in which we (I in typing, and you in reading) are not playing Portal 2. Let's get through this ASAP, huh?
Portal 2 is the best game of 2011. Period. Exclamation point. I realize we're only four months into the year, but there isn't any aspect of Valve's latest title that leaves any room for improvement. True, inevitably the game will be outclassed aurally and aesthetically, but Portal 2's graphics and sound—despite being excellent—are far from its greatest strength. It should come as no surprise to fans of its predecessor that Portal 2 earns the Mercury's equivalent of a 10 out of 10 almost entirely by virtue of its brilliant writing.
Remember Portal's "the cake is a lie?" The Weighted Companion Cube? GLaDOS' attempts to distract you from dismantling her by insinuating that you were an unloved orphan child? All that stuff makes a return—or, at least, completely original analogues have been created. One of my biggest concerns going into Portal 2 was that the game would rely too heavily on mining the goodwill earned from the first Portal. Luckily, developer Valve seemingly took this into account and opted for the much more difficult "Let's create all-new brilliant writing!" route, instead of the "Let's just make a bunch of jokes about cake!" method. As a result, not only is Portal 2's script alternately heartwarming, hilarious, eerie, and wildly intelligent, but it never runs the risk of dating itself with an over-reliance on self-reference.
I could go on for thousands of words about the game's huge selection of clever new puzzle types, the co-op multiplayer mode that essentially triples the size of the game (and offers a reason to bring a friend along), or even Portal 2's new robot characters—but all this typing is keeping me from the game. Go buy a copy and you'll instantly understand.