Date

As I was telling Jp yesterday, Valve has become masterful at creating near-perfect interactive multimedia experiences. That is to say, Portal is frickin' awesome. As Tycho says, they have proven the first person puzzle comedy genre.

1. It's short, but includes a satisfying amount of story content (especially if you snoop around a bit. Look for a slide show).
2. It is thoroughly and consistently hilarious, while maintaining its drama.
3. It has a very cool style and atmosphere, starting out strange and eventually growing spooky.
4. The music is excellent; Valve has always been good at timing their distinct music to maximize emotional response. Plus they got Jonathan Coulton to write the ending theme song (yes, there's an ending theme song!).

They have an interactive commentary version of each level of the game that you can play as soon as you've completed the respective level. It shows how they've thought about extremely subtle things. I would really like to see how someone who's never played a first person shooter gets along with it.

Moving on to the rest of the Half Life universe (which Portal very intriguingly refers to), Half Life 2 Episode 2 offers many of the same qualities. It's not as much of a comedy, but they make up for it. I don't know what else to say about EP2, really; if you can even tolerate first person shooters but have not yet played any Half Life 2 games, then you are missing out on a very good artistic, dramatic, and cerebral experience. And it keeps getting better with every episode.

Which reminds me: I have an extra copy each of Half Life 2 and Half Life 2: Episode 1 burning holes in my pocket; Valve has set Steam up such that I can give a copy of those to someone else since I already owned them when I bought the Orange Box, which includes them again. Who wants them?