Few people will praise Portal higher than lead Brink writer Ed Stern.
During a Develop Conference talk he called Valve's creation "the greatest combination of premise, setting and player interaction we're ever likely to see".
Portal 1 came as part of The Orange Box in 2007. But the bite-sized compliment to Half-Life 2: Episode 2 and Team Fortress 2 quickly whipped up tumultuous applause of its own, scoring 9/10 in Eurogamer's Portal review. "One of the most interesting and delightful things Valve has ever done," Tom Bramwell wrote.
Portal 2 had big shoes to fill. But step into them it did, by earning 10/10 in Eurogamer's Portal 2 review. "It's a masterpiece," wrote Oli Welsh.
Ed Stern's comments about Portal were made answering whether Splash Damage overwrote Brink, a multiplayer-focused game.
"Brink is about frantic running and shooting, it's not exploring this world we've set up. It's a shooter," stated Stern.
"It's not about its setting in the same way that BioShock or Dragon Age or, God help us, Portal is. Portal, for my money, [is] the greatest combination of premise, setting and player interaction we're ever likely to see.
"All of this concepting and agonising and rewriting was for a shooter game that could have been red versus blue," Stern added. "Arguably we did not need a story in the first place."
Stern said Splash Damage chose a story because "we wanted to demonstrate as a story studio that we could do this stuff". Splash Damage wanted to add meaning to proceedings, although the mid-fight chaos often negated this.
"But I'm really glad we tried," said Stern. "I do not think Brink would have been a better game for having less world [built] into it."
Brink, released in May, tried to seamlessly weld single and multiplayer gameplay. Persist past its obtuse opening and you'll discover "an exceptional team shooter", wrote Simon Park in Eurogamer's Brink review - "smart, supremely well balanced and with a unique, exciting art style".