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5 reasons why Portal 2’s Peer Review could be the best DLC ever

Submitted by on Friday, 7 October 2011One Comment

Portal 2 was finally released six months ago, and quickly became one of the most critically acclaimed games of this generation. However, if you’re still yet to play it then there has never been a better time, because earlier this week saw the release of Peer Review, the game’s first proper add-on. If you ask us it could well be a contender for the best piece of downloadable content ever; read on to find out why…

It’s completely free!

When a developer releases free downloadable content for a game, it normally merely consists of some skins, or if you’re lucky a new multiplayer map or mode. Content that extends a game’s story is hardly ever given away for free, because it takes more time and costs more money to create, and the publisher needs to recoup this investment by charging people to play it.

However, with Peer Review, Valve has bucked the DLC trend and released it on the PlayStation Store for absolutely free, extending the length of the co-op story, and also throwing in a Challenge Mode (returning from the original Portal) for good measure. Peer Review could have easily and justifiably been released as paid-for content, and we still would have raved about it.

It increases the length of the co-op story by 20%

The main co-op story of Portal 2 features five courses for you and a friend to play through, with each one divided into a number of Test Chambers. Peer Review adds a sixth course, featuring eight brand new Test Chambers, continuing the story of robot pals Atlas and P-body. It even includes new voice work by Ellen McLain (otherwise known as GLaDOS).

We haven’t had a chance to play it properly yet, but from what we’ve seen so far, these new Test Chambers look to be much more difficult than those found in the main game. Valve has clearly gone out of its way to give players a real challenge, shown in the fact you have to complete the main co-op story before you can play the new course.

It gives Portal 2 infinite replay value

With Peer Review, Valve has added a Challenge Mode to Portal 2, which makes the game even more addictive; as you play a challenge, your time and the number of portals used are recorded. After you complete a challenge you are presented with a graph, which displays the scores and times of everyone who has completed the challenge, so you can see how you compare to the Portal 2 community.

The singleplayer story has been divided into 51 challenges, and co-op into 48 challenges, so it’ll take a while to get a score you’re happy with on all of them, and then of course there are everyone else’s scores to worry about. Expert Portal players can somehow complete challenges in a matter of seconds, or by using only one or two portals, so the competition will always be fierce.

It increases your intelligence

Okay, this one probably wouldn’t hold up in court, but hear us out. Portal features such a unique game mechanic that you seriously need to think about how to get to the end of each area, perhaps more so than any other game. Portal 2’s tagline, ‘Think with portals’, supports this idea of getting your brain into a very specific mindset that will allow for greater lateral thinking.

In particular, the aforementioned Challenge Mode fundamentally requires you to think outside of the box in order to achieve a good score. It’s all about finding original ways to shave a few seconds off your time or use fewer portals to get to the exit. It therefore stands to reason that you could potentially apply these skills in other aspects of life, and become a more imaginative and creative person.

It makes a brilliant game even better

We wouldn’t have thought it was possible to improve Portal 2, but with Peer Review, we’re happy to announce that Valve has proved us wrong. It’s a great example of how to do DLC correctly, adding hours of content to the game. The extension of the co-op story will take at least an hour or two to complete, but then you’ve also got the potentially infinite replay value of Challenge Mode.

The fact that it’s free is simply the icing on the cake; and no, that isn’t a lie. The download size of Peer Review is a whopping 1.4 gigabytes, which should give you an idea of the amount of content it includes, and the amount of work Valve has put into it. Peer Review is a perfect addition to the incredible Portal 2, but, knowing Valve, we suspect Portal fans still have a lot to look forward to.