Now you’re building with portals.
At first glance it may seem like an odd combination — Portal and Bridge Constructor together? But thinking about it a little more deeply, consider all the possibilities portals would add to bridge construction. Conventional construction alone can’t transverse every gap or problem. It’s all actually rather genius! As a custodian at Aperture Science, your task is to make sure other workers can do their jobs by building bridges across various test chambers. That might not sound like any janitor I know, but that’s just the way they roll over there at Aperture Science, I suppose.
Yes, the game obviously has a very Portal-like feel, including instructions from GLaDOS. If you are a Portal fan, there’s enough of that patented humor to crack a smile or two. If you’re more of the Bridge Constructor fan, don’t worry — there are plenty of bridges to be built. I did say at first that it seemed like an odd combination, but engineers can be some odd folks at times, so it works.
Enough trying to explain why it works and on with the bridge building already!
Right, so here’s my extensive knowledge of bridge building in a nutshell: something something triangles, possibly something to do with arches. As luck would have it, I can use a lifeline here to help in construction — one of the few times being married to an engineer is helpful for gaming! The drawback, though, is that this means her lifetime ban on gaming must be lifted to help out. Before anyone jumps to conclusions, ‘the ban’ was a mutual decision and one which was well earned. Just don’t bring up GTA IV around the house, okay?
‘You know how to build bridges, right?’
‘Yes, but don’t let anyone at work know that.’
What if you don’t happen to have an engineer handy? There’s a tutorial for that! The game does do a decent job of getting players some basics in construction techniques. Of course, things do get fairly more complicated in a hurry and for that there’s a handy dandy index of more advanced construction methods. Having an engineer nearby was helpful, but most civilian bridges don’t feature portals, cubes with hearts on them, various gels, catapults or turrets. At least not around here, anyway.
Get on with it already…
Back to more pertinent matters, namely the game. Bridge Constructor Portal comprises sixty levels of bridge-building madness. Things start off very straightforward and easy, but the difficulty ramps up fairly fast. What won’t be fast, however, is the planning stage as you go along. By the time I hit the mid point of the game, I was spending nearly as much time completing those levels as it took to complete the first fifteen to twenty levels combined. The pay-off is that finishing a level properly gets increasingly satisfying. What’s even more satisfying and amusing is completing a level in completely unintended ways. Observe…
Sure, they probably wanted me to make sure everyone got to their destination safely. If they wanted that, how about maybe making everyone actually sit down inside a forklift? I’d tell them, but I’m a custodian dammit, not a safety inspector. Since I’m not actually a safety inspector, that gives me an idea…
While that particular solution elicited some serious eye-rolls from the peanut gallery at home, it worked. In the end, that’s all that really matters, right? Who says bridge building can’t be fun? That’s also part of the particular genius of this mash-up — making a mess of things and still winning feels even more hilarious. Plus, even though it is absolutely wrong, it still feels right. It feels a very Aperture-Science–appropriate way to do things.
It’s not all hilarity and forklift crashes, though. There is one issue I encountered several times and it’s one which can require total rebuilds. That issue is clipping. There will be times when your otherwise perfect(-ly working, not actually perfect) construction gets blocked by the environment. Edges tend to pop through roadways from time to time. You can of course get around it, but it generally involves completely rethinking your strategy or completely rebuilding everything, just a little bit higher. It’s a bit of a downer but it’s not entirely a fun-killer.
Coming into the game, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I had never played any Bridge Constructor games and I’m don’t go particularly gaga for Portal games. I mean, they’re good, I just never seemed to reach that same level of enthusiasm everyone else did over them. Given that level of handicap, I was quite surprised with how much I enjoyed Bridge Constructor Portal. As a puzzle game it offers excellent difficulty that feels rewarding when completed. It’s a fun off-shoot into the Portal world. Finally, as a Bridge Constructor game… well, I have no comparison to others, but the Engineer gave her approval and found it to be good fun. That seems like a win for the game to me.