Portal 2 DLC Drops – Gamers Rage and Rejoice
With a new set of co-op adventures for bionic buddies Atlas and P-Body and a new challenge mode that allows you to pit yourself against Steam friends and the Portal community, there’s a fair amount of new content for a free DLC pack. However, the response to Valve’s largesse has been a mixed one, with gamers both raging and rejoicing in response to the release.
The new set of co-op chambers have been generally well-received as challenging, fun and supported by the ever-hilarious writing that has helped boost the Portal series to the dizzying heights of critical acclaim. However, the new challenge modes and lack of new single-player test chambers have not gone down so well.
The challenge modes allow you to play through broken-up sections of each chapter of the Portal 2 experience. You race against time to complete each section as quickly as you can using as few portals as possible. You’re not only up against the clock, but also your Steam buddies and the Portal community at large, as the leaderboards allow you to mark your best attempts against the rest of the Aperture Science test subjects!
While this all sounds like portal-powered fun, there’s still some unhappy campers. It’s the lack of any kind of medal or award for completing the challenges that’s tweaked a few gamers’ noses. This means that if you like your challenges with a competitive edge, there’s only the thought of comparing stats ranked up on the leaderboards.
The challenge mode in the original Portal had bronze, silver and gold medals for each challenge chamber, which were advanced and slightly modified versions of those found in the single-player campaign. You were also scored on how many steps you took to complete the challenge.
These omitted elements of the original Portal challenge mode have been sorely missed by many gamers, taking the gloss off the new Peer Review DLC.
It seems you can’t please everyone, as apparently even high quality free content isn’t flameproof against gamer rage. For those who felt let down by the Peer Review DLC, let me put things in perspective:
Earlier this year, Dragon Age 2 offered up a DLC option called “The Exiled Prince” that gave you an additional party member with a relatively weak story arc to explore. This DLC cost $7 and added a paltry amount of content and little value to the existing game.
By contrast, this Portal 2 DLC gives you maybe an hour or two of prime additional co-op content (depending on your puzzle-solving speed and skill) and a chance to challenge yourself again on every section of the existing content, marking yourself against both friends and strangers. All for the price of… zip, zero dollars.
Therefore, when it’s placed against the backdrop of DLC as a whole, the Peer Review really does represent the better, brighter end of the DLC spectrum. In this context, I don’t think the lack of medals is really the thing to focus on. Admittedly some modified challenge test chambers would have been nice but as they say, the price is right, considering what you are getting.
When lots of publishers are trying to squeeze every last ounce of revenue from their released titles, DLC often become a dangerous tool that is overhyped and represents poor value for the consumer. However, when it’s done right, for the right price, DLC can allow a developer to go back and revisit, tweak or expand on its game, adding in elements that simply couldn’t be properly implemented in time for release.
This adds actual value and encourages gamers to revisit an old favorite and experience it with a new, exciting twist. While this instance of gifting the fans with free, high-quality DLC may not become a runaway trend in the gaming industry, it makes a most welcome change from the deluge of DLC dross that’s being shovelled out.
I hope you enjoy your extended Portal 2 adventures. As an added bonus, if you haven’t bought a copy yet, it’s currently being offered on Steam at the 50% reduced price of $15, available until October 6. If you were holding out for a good deal on one of the top games of 2011, then now’s your chance.