Portal 2: Peer Review… Review

Written by Thomas Read

If you’re any kind of respectable gamer, you probably like Portal. What seemed like an afterthought to the Orange Box back in 2007 rapidly turned into a gaming sensation, and soon became as renowned as Half-Life 2. Within a short couple of years Portal was insanely well-known, and the innovative, quirky and fun gameplay, characters and dialogue earned a special place in gamers’ hearts.

Back in spring of 2011, the long-awaited Portal 2 was finally released, featuring a deeper story (and a much-needed expansion of hours), new gameplay elements and an impressive co-op mode, allowing players to team up with their friends to control a total of four portals, complicating the puzzles and, miraculously, improving upon the original game.

The newest addition to the burgeoning franchise is DLC dubbed “Peer Review.” It’s a smallish addition, consisting of only 9 new co-op puzzles, as well as a challenge mode (something the first Portal had, but was conspicuously absent from the second.) However, Valve proves that good things come in small packages, and you will be impressed with nearly all of the new rooms.

As I said, Peer Review consists of nine new co-op puzzles. These are not quite your usual Portal challenges, and a few of them at first seem impossible (something Portal fans are used to.) However, the difficulty is pretty fair, and only a couple pose any kind of hair-pulling challenge. Most simply require you and your partner to look around, play with the environment a bit, and bounce ideas off of each other until you reach that delicious moment of “Eureka!” There are some that require pinpoint accuracy or timing (You will try over and over and over) and only a couple that are actually easy.

Not pictured, to the right: One of the previously mentioned “hair-pulling” sequences that took my partner and I a good half-hour to make sense of.

Peer Review is a solid couple hours of additional gameplay to the Portal 2 experience, and generally more difficult than most of the regular game. It makes use of all the new elements that made Portal 2 such a welcome addition (Excursion funnels, the three kinds of gels, light bridges, and devices my Partner in Science lovingly referred to as “Bounce Paddles.”) It combines all of these fresh elements to make a delicious dessert of Science. (You didn’t actually think you’d get through this review without a cake joke, did you?)

The story between GLaDOS, P-body and Atlas is also expanded upon very slightly, but lacks any substantial plot significance aside from character development and causing some genuine belly laughs (Read: I cracked the f*ck up.)

My complaints are minimal, and are really just me being greedy. As far as DLC goes, it was completely satisfactory. I would have hoped that being released 6 months after the game, the DLC would have had a little more content, but considering the quality of gameplay, you can’t really complain. Any additional single-player content would have also been welcome, but considering the ending of it, (I won’t spoil anything) I’m sort of glad they didn’t. Peer Review is a solid addition, and now that Challenge Mode is available, you can try to beat other players’ scores on online leaderboards for a potentially endless Portal experience.

Oh, did I mention it’s free? It’s free. So really, there’s no reason to complain. I look forward to the next DLC release, if it’s anything like Peer Review.

Overall Score: 86

More Science, for free. With the addition of challenge mode, the competitive side of Portal is now available to anyone. While it’s essentially more of the same, that’s in no way a bad thing when talking about one of the best games of the year. More content would have made this DLC beyond incredible, but at no cost, you can’t really be upset about length. I would be surprised if anyone who played Peer Review was disappointed. Anyone who owns Portal 2 and someone to play with has no reason not to enjoy this great supplement.

Genre Score (DLC): 91

No gimmicks and nothing that shouldn’t be there. Aside from being only a few hours long, this is what DLC should be: An addition consistent with the gameplay and continuity of the main story. Equal parts of challenging and fun: Everything we’ve come to love and expect from Portal.

Picture taken from http://arstechnica.com/

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