Portal 2, Peer Review – Review

Before we get started I want to make it absolutely clear that I am fully aware that my choice of title is both cumbersome and difficult, but you know what? I am reviewing the Portal 2 DLC called Peer Review and so I think it only fair that I state that right out. No matter how many times it may make me wish I had the imagination to come up with something better. Peer Review was the first major batch of downloadable content for Portal 2 and it was released last October, so like our Portal 2 review this review of the DLC comes at you a bit late. The content is also completely free, so honestly if you own Portal 2 it’s something of a no-brainer, but let’s go ahead and review it anyway!

It is worth saying straight off the bat that if you enjoyed Portal 2 then you will like Peer Review as it is quite simply more of the same. Ellen McCain being GLaDOS and as usual being fantastic with all those quirky, slightly insane and hilarious comments we all know and love. The gameplay and game itself offer nothing new (speedy thing goes in, speedy thing comes out) other than nine new challenge maps for you and a friend. So yes remember all the other things about Portal 2 apply here as well: excellent graphics, excellent mechanics, excellent game!

Of course, it is an issue if you have the PC version that you can’t play splitscreen and you’ll need to play online to enjoy the DLC and then you might simply have no friends with Portal 2 (or no friends at all) which would make the content a bit pointless because it is a multiplayer only batch of DLC. But let’s assume you can overcome all these difficulties and you have Portal 2. If that’s the case then as I have said it really isn’t a difficult decision to download the free DLC and get another hour or more out of the game. I can’t say exactly how long the DLC is because it took me and my friend the better part of two maybe three hours but that was because our attention wasn’t fully on the game.

Of course another reason why it’s possible that the DLC took so long was because Valve absolutely outdid themselves with the puzzles. There were nine levels, each with at least one test chamber and each one was quite simply ridiculously challenging. I entered Portal 2 expecting the end challenges to be tough, and they were, but nothing compared to these. Here the team pulled out all the stops and it took an awful lot of portals and a fair bit of trial and error in each chamber before we worked out how to solve them all.

I think I can safely say that the challenges are definitely harder than anything else Portal 2 had thus far produced, and I’m willing to bet that the challenge mode will be even more ridiculous, but that is all down to the players. I’m fairly sure that there will be people who could work out the puzzles faster than we could and that would mean that really you wouldn’t get very much from a very sizeable piece of DLC (it’s around 1.9 GB in size).

At this stage it would be too easy to run out of things to say about Peer Review, as it’s free you really ought to download it and play it if you have Portal 2 because more portal shenanigans is always good. However, I feel there’s a little more to be said about it. You see as DLC goes it was actually a little bit disappointing and I had trouble pinpointing why I thought so. I mean playing through it was all the fun and laughs I expect from Portal 2 but after finishing it I was left feeling a little bit disappointed, like it could have been better.

After a fair bit of thought I believe I have worked out what my issue with the content is: there’s no sense of achievement after you finish it. There are no achievements to earn while playing it and so once you’ve finished it, if you uninstall it there will be no record that you’ve ever completed the fantastic puzzles. More than that the end of the DLC which you reach after having completed the 9 test chambers has a “quirky” and “funny” Portal 2 style twist ending. And while it was amusing and made me laugh at the time in hindsight I can’t help but feel that it was a little bit anti-climatic and that it might have benefited from a more challenging and less comedic finish.

This brings me back to final thoughts on Peer Review. It’s a great piece of DLC and as it’s free you should go out of your way to download and play it. Also, as it’s free, it’s very hard to find anything bad to say about it because free Portal 2 is always fantastic. But from a reviewing point of view I have to say that I feel it wasn’t as good as it could have been and there wasn’t enough sense of achievement after having completed it. So yeah, that’s the final MMGaming verdict: could have been better, but still good!

Rating: B+

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