Matt Martin: I won't mention the end song because I'm sure everyone is already tossing off over it. Pretty much everything about Portal was perfect for me - the fact that it was only 2/3 hours long wasn't even an issue. The sense of propelling yourself through portals to reach heights and distances was exhilarating. Easily the funniest game of the year too, with real character and style. And a second play through with developer commentary was a genius idea, I'd love to see more devs do that.
Kristan Reed: Definitely by far the most refreshing, original and coolest game on this list, but number one? Hmm. In my Bah Humbug role, I'd personally kick it a few places down the list by virtue of its length, but it seems I've been massively outvoted. Either way, it's a game everyone should play if they get the chance, and is proof that Valve still has that uncanny ability to champion amazing ideas.
Alec Meer: Three hours that quietly altered what videogaming can be. The divine madness that Portal quickly inflicted on the world is astonishing - creepy fan art of cubes, grown men tearily singing lyrics about broken hearts together, and quote after quote after quote. I can't think of anything that managed such a stranglehold on Zeitgeist quite as this did. And, of course, it entirely deserved it - aside from the ingenuity of the concept, what makes Portal so great is it having a narrative that's entirely videogame. It's never guilty of awkwardly resorting to movie sensibilities or a glaringly artificial mechanism like collecting audio diaries. The plot's completely tied to the player's actions - story points, background detail and top-notch gags given out in direct response to your progress, and never snatching control away from you in the process. All hail Portal. While it won't save us from the retrograde narrative misery of Final Fantasies or Metal Gear Solidses or Assassin's Creedses, at least we now know how how incredible game storytelling can be.
Dan Whitehead: While I'm sure some eyebrows will rise over such an accolade being bestowed upon what amounts to a bite-sized freebie bonus, it's hard to argue that Portal didn't provide the year's most inventive and charming game experience, regardless of size. A game clearly based on Eddie Izzard's immortal choice between cake or death? A fantastically clever puzzle game that turns into a smartly scripted FPS thriller right before the end? If only all games could be this witty and fresh. I actually find myself dreading the surely inevitable full-length sequel, lest the wonderful purity of the concept gets diluted beyond recognition.
Jim Rossignol: Thank God for Portal. A genuine Game Of The Year and proof that short games can be perfect.
Tom Bramwell: By the way, no 2008 freelance for the first person who submits a comment pointing out that this was a triumph.
John Walker: Yippee! For all my whinging in these comments this year, I couldn't be more delighted about this. I've exhausted myself writing why it's so wonderful elsewhere rock paper shotgun dot com and you've all already played it and know for yourself. 2007 is the year of GLaDOS, the year of portal guns, the year of comedy in games. I think Valve knew very well that Portal would be a massive hit in the Orange Box, and I don't think it's a "surprise hit" at all, as many are describing it. If it were any less than as brilliant as it is, Valve would never have included it. What I am left with is hope. Hope that other developers will have the courage to learn from Portal. It's awkward, and Valve would have struggled to give Portal a decent release without something like The Orange Box to justify its brief length, but others must see that games can be short and still incredibly good, and more importantly, incredibly popular. If Portal can have one legacy, I wish it to be to remind people that games are a wonderful vehicle for comedy. But you need a wonderful comedy writer to achieve it. Eric Wolpaw was an ingenious hiring by Valve, and other developers should sit up in excitement. You want funny in your game? Hire funny people, rather than trying to do it yourself. Congratulations Portal - you truly were the game of 2007, and that you are three hours long only makes it more of an achievement.
Tom Bramwell: When I played through Portal the first time, I was utterly alone, completely unaware of what anyone else thought of it as a whole, and unaware of the ending. So I was still in the perfect position to be mesmerized by it, but it still didn't feel like Game of the Year to me. For some time I even considered giving it an eight. I think the reason is that I wanted different things from it: I loved the puzzling so much, I just wanted to puzzle some more. The Advanced levels and challenges weren't enough. I wanted to see that concept built upon and used to astonish me over 40, 50, 100 levels. At its most intricate, I felt like I would have if I had been inside a Slitherlink, running around. The desire for more of that intimate puzzling got in the way of my enjoying the fact that it's one of the most wonderfully rounded stories in a year of very ambitious narrative-driven games, and that it's also probably the best ending in a videogame for some years. Not just the song - the whole confrontation. Weird that that happened to me, eh? I look back on it with satisfaction and respect, but I'm quite cold toward it in my head; I wanted it to be more of the other thing it was, too.
Kieron Gillen: The game that launched a thousand web-memes. Everyone expected it to be good. Nobody expected it to be this good. Shall we count its miracles? It managed to make an obscurist physics-warping puzzle game completely mainstream. It managed to make a simple crate into the year's most beloved new videogame character. It managed to be three hours long... but no-one cared about that, because they were too busy caring about the game. It managed make ending on a song be as logical necessity as Dr Spock while being a fun as Mr T. It managed to make anyone with a heart fall in love. As our new favourite mentalist CPU sweetheart put it, this was a triumph.
Tom Bramwell: Right. You had fair warning.
Rich Leadbetter: Brilliantly designed, innovative, witty and wonderfully devious, Portal is the surprise highlight of the Orange Box, and must surely be spun out into its own 'full' game. However, try as I might, I just can't quite comprehend why this sits atop of a chart packed with far more worthy 'game of the year' candidates, including the best Super Mario game in 17 years.
Simon Parkin: We're so used to playing the gun-toting hero that, when a game arrives that offers the chance to play as a weak, helpless and abused lab rat whose only chance of salvation is not in bullets and muscles but in resilience and the canny turning of others' violence back at them, it feels like something from another world. Of course, with dialogue this witty and a premise that interesting, it virtually is from another world to most videogames.
Oli Welsh: I expected Portal to be a fantastic design, and of course it was; intricate, creative, teasing and cruel, like the best Zelda dungeon you've ever played. It stopped some way short of realising the immense potential of Aperture Science's invention, though, so although you won't catch me complaining about the game's length, I was left mildly disappointed by its depth. What I didn't expect - what more than made up for any criticism - was that such an apparently sterile and lonely game could be the funniest, most human, most adult and artful piece of storytelling in gaming this year, streets ahead of the likes of BioShock or Mass Effect. It may just be the monologue of a mad computer, but the script is one of the finest pieces of writing ever to grace a game, and it's matched with Valve's peerless ability to tell stories through locations. And the ending, the song; just perfect. The icing on the cake, and no lie.
Keza MacDonald: Longevity is hugely overrated. Portal is the gaming equivalent of a clever modernist short story in a bookshop that sells almost nothing but six-hundred-page fantasy novels with names like Sword of Strethbywyth Saga: The Dragonventricle Chronicles Vol III. It is gifted with both a fantastic, completely unique, inspired premise and the sense not to overuse it. It's different, incredibly funny and desperately clever and just like everybody else, I'm completely in love with it. It's also probably the only game in history that will be finished by every single person who plays it. Forget game of the year, this might well be my game of the decade.
Rob Fahey: Short and sweet, like a small slice of very delicious cake, Portal was as funny as it was clever. It came up with a great concept, built on it, and then left with a bang before it had outstayed its welcome - leaving players with a massive grin from ear to ear, and a tune in their heads that simply wouldn't go away for weeks. If for nothing else, who can help falling in love with a game that plays with perception and convention wildly enough to make an inanimate crate into the best- loved character in years? This was a triumph - I'm making a note here, HUGE SUCCESS.
Tom Bramwell: Right, that's it for you too.
Tom Bramwell: And you. The end.