Although big fan of the majority of Valve’s offerings, I’ve come to regard Portal 2 co-op under the guise of How to lose friends and alienate people. After a few months delay, the first of the promised free DLC packs is available as of October 4th and it is just as infuriating, maddening and rewarding as it’s predecessor. P-Body and Atlas continue their testing through an all new test chamber, while GlaDos’s dark humour continues to mocks your every failing throughout.
Be advised; Do NOT play this game with complete strangers online, unless you fancy a bit of a verbal battering. The numbers of live friends playing online is dwindling, so after a few false starts with some socially challenged mouth-breathers, I called my mate up to play the DLC old-school couch co-op style. Having completed the main game the same way, I personally find this the way to go; with a game like Portal, nothing can communicate the same as walking over to – and physically tapping on – the telly and shouting what you’re on about!
Although difficult and at times hair-pullingly frustrating, when the solution to a test chamber finally clicks in your head, euphoria beckons. Now just the task of trying to explain the solution in your mind to your playing partner!
There is a sense of déjà vu throughout the new content, and some of the puzzles seem a rehash of elements of the fantastic hard copy original. I found myself on more than one occasion trying to recollect how I had solved a similar test, rather than working a solution to the level I was playing. Although it may be hard to design completely new content from a set number of tools, some of the fan offerings in the community have shown flashes of brilliance and originality far beyond what is in Peer Review. As this is free content there can be no complaints, as any update is better than no update, but Valve may have missed an opportunity; in their second DLC, Red Lynx included some of the best fan made content in a larger, paid-for expansion pack for their XBL arcade hit Trials HD. This pleased everybody as the publisher effectively got free level design that had been well received and tested by the community and buyers got double the offering than previous DLC. It may be harder to get an outsider’s design to flow with the clinical theme of Atlas and P-Body’s testing, but there is a wealth of unexplored ideas out there that could be incorporated in hopefully further Portal 2 updates.
Aside from the new test chamber, The DLC also features a single player and co-op Challenge Mode, adding a competitive bent to the original courses, and leaderboards to compare Challenge Mode scores with friends and the Portal community.
The DLC weighs in at a hefty 1.37gig, but is free to download on all platforms. You’ll have to manually download it from the prompt on the menu screen on PS3 or Xbox 360, PC and Mac gamers will find it added to your game.