When I say that Portal 2 “looks like the best thing since sliced bread”, I’m not just talking about graphics - I’m talking about the game overall.
Hell, Crysis 2 is still king of the hill, in my opinion, as far as graphic realism goes, but it’s not really as important as good story/gameplay/mechanics etc.
Portal 1 was mostly light-maps, but I still consider it to be a better game than something like Crysis.
As for the old “Star Wars” stuff: It’s like beating a dead horse now - Jedi, light-sabers, and so on - other than trite story variations, there is really nothing much to see in any of these star wars games (including Force Unleashed 2).
It think the “gels” were just a bunch of soft-body meshes, set to stamp splat decals on colliding surfaces.
I’m still trying to figure out if they’re using all dynamic lighting, or if it’s just some sophisticated real-time + light-map mix.