Lego Dimensions: Portal 2 Level Pack
A big part of the appeal of Lego Dimensions is the use of familiar properties. What initially attracted me to the game was the inclusion of characters from The Simpsons and Ghostbusters, pop culture touchstones that appealed to me and my kids. But the developers at Travelers Tales have cast a very wide net that included some lesser-known licenses as well. Perhaps the most offbeat choice of all was to devote an entire level pack as well as part of the game’s main storyline to a cult video game like Portal 2.
Portal 2 was released to critical acclaim in 2011. It was a sequel to the original Portal which was released in 2007. Both games test the player with a series of puzzles in which the player navigates an obstacle course using a hand-held teleportation device.
Prior to playing Lego Dimensions, I think I was vaguely aware that a puzzle game named Portal existed and that it was supposed to be pretty good. But not being much of a gamer, I never played it. One of the unexpected benefits of playing Lego Dimensions has been that it has introduced me some things that were not on my radar. This was the case with Portal 2.
The basics of the story were easy to pick up from the gameplay. We are talking about a storyline that was adapted from a previous video game, so it’s a pretty natural fit. GLaDOS is an artificial intelligence that tests subjects with potentially lethal traps. In the main game’s storyline, Batman, Wild Style and Gandalf have to survive her puzzles with the help of a floating robot named Wheatley.
The Portal level was one of the stronger parts of the base game. For one thing, GLaDOS and Wheatley are terrific characters. GLaDOS speaks in a calm, soothing voice while saying horrible things and threatening her subjects with lethal gas. Wheatley, who is voiced by Stephen Merchant from the British version of The Office, attempts to be helpful but is comically inept often failing to include crucial information in his escape plans. The voice cast also included J.K, Simmons as the founder of the test facility.
You get a taste of Portal in the main game, but if you want the full experience you need to shell out for the Level Pack. The good news is, the pack provides a lot of bang for your buck. As with any level pack, it includes a brand new level to play through. It’s similar to the Portal-themed level from the main game but with greater emphasis on the puzzles. I never played either of the original Portal games, but it seems pretty obvious that their gameplay has been adapted (and likely simplified) here.
The Level Pack includes Chell, the protagonist from the original games. Fortunately for her, since she is constantly being asked to maneuver life-or-death obstacle courses, Chell is a gifted athlete. She has the acrobatics skill which enables her to jump long distances. Plenty of other characters have this ability including Wild Style from the Starter Pack. But Chell also comes with her unique portal gun. Her personal teleportation device allows her to turn walls into doors which is an excellent ability to have when one is trying to escape a mad robot.
The pack also includes a couple of gadgets. GLaDOS’ tests include sentry turrets which must be avoided or destroyed. Their only function is to fire on any target that enters their cross-hairs and they never run out of ammo. However, Chell can sometimes use sentry turrets to her advantage by using their automatic weapons to trigger hard-to-reach switches. As a gadget, the sentry offers a lot of the same abilities you will find in other packs. It can be upgraded to fly, fire lasers or blow up silver bricks. That’s great if you don’t already have vehicles or characters that can do the same thing. But odd are, you probably do.
The companion cube is a different matter. You don’t have anything like it in any other pack. Throughout the game there are weight switches which can only be activated by applying a companion cube. That alone makes the Portal 2 Level Pack essential for completing the game. It can also be upgraded to deflect lasers (like the ones those sentries are always shooting at you) or to provide health-regenerating hearts.
Additionally, the Level Pack is the only way to access the Portal 2 Adventure World. So you are effectively getting a new level to play, two unique abilities and a world to explore. I will comment that the adventure world for Portal 2 is different from any of the other ones I have played so far. It is more confined and puzzle-centric which is fitting given the nature of the Portal series.
I also found it more challenging to navigate which may be a positive or a negative depending on your point of view. Within the level and the main game, the puzzles presented were fairly linear. But in the adventure world, there is more exploration required and I tended to get lost while solving a puzzle. This might just be a “me” thing as I have a terrible sense of direction that frequently results in me wandering around video game worlds looking for clues. I found myself solving Part A of Puzzle One and then Part B of nearby Puzzle 2 without ever getting back to my earlier half-solved puzzle.
At one point, I decided to circumvent some of the obstacles by using a flying character. GLaDOS chastised me for cheating, but then she does that any time you survive one of her traps. Still, she seemed especially agitated with me when I started using flying superheroes instead of the gravity-bound Chell.
If you’re a fan of both Lego Dimensions and Portal, odds are you have already purchased and played this level pack. If, like me, you were unfamiliar with the original game series but enjoyed the Portal material from the main game, I can definitely recommend this expansion. And if you are a completionist, you’re going to need Chell and her portal gun and companion cube. All in all, I’m going to say that this is a solid level pack and one of the best offered in the game’s first year.