Spore Galactic Adventures, the first full expansion to the series, tries to fill that lingering black hole left in the hearts of fans of the series. There's a lot live up to in this first big push in the Spore universe. Will this be the addition that brings back those who left their creatures to drift endlessly in the void of space?
- Endless variety of content
- Very powerful and simple toolset
- Very creative missions
- Missions are a little buggy
- Adventures only add a little to the overall game
From cell to civilization, Spore took gamers not only on an adventure through all the stages of social evolution, but also moved you through a simple history of gaming. The single-cell single click game evolves into a resource management space race. While many gamers walked away disappointed by the experience, many more still wandered the heavens searching for something more.
Spore Galactic Adventures, the first full expansion to the series, tries to fill that lingering black hole left in the hearts of fans of the series. There’s a lot live up to in this first big push in the Spore universe. Will this be the addition that brings back those who left their creatures to drift endlessly in the void of space?
Spores in SPAAAAAAACE
As the title denotes, Spore Galactic Adventures focuses solely on the final stage of the game – space exploration. No new appendages for your creatures. No fun flagella for your single cells. The tribal stage is still a pain in the ass. What you get instead is additional content for your space campaign through new quests given to you by your extraterrestrial neighbors. The kicker to the new content is the ability to constantly update your game with new fan-made adventures similar to the ability to bring in new Spore creations. In essence, you have an ever-growing galaxy of adventures to explore from a single expansion.
The adventures throw it back to the creature stage as you’ll have as many as four (a captain and three crew members) to beam down to the planet’s surface. Your main character will always be your captain, a single creature from your species that you can outfit and control on these vital missions. The past abilities that you bestowed on your critter come back but this time you can gain new abilities. As you successfully complete each mission, you gain a little bit of experience. Level up and you can add a new ability to your captain such as armor, regenerating health, new songs, or even a new attack. Abilities, as before, come as items that you can switch out before beaming down.
The real crux of the whole situation comes down to if you have the right stuff to complete a given mission. Players focused more on battle may find some of the peace missions a singing contest that they just can’t win. Peace loving captains will probably have a tougher time surviving the constant onslaught of enemies. Once you get a couple of items of each, you’ll be able to tackle most adventures without much of a problem. But this may be all a part of the design since Galactic Adventures keeps a running leaderboard on all of their missions. Place in the top three and you’ll get a medal for your deeds.
Just like the game itself, Galactic Adventures’ toolset is deceptively easy, but carries a lot of depth for those who pursue it. You’ll be able to grab anything from the Sporepedia, from new creatures to designs, to populate your planet. Like LittleBigPlanet, the tools themselves are very user friendly, but hide a level of complexity that will take time for some creators awhile to unlock. Creatures can be given various AI parameters, motion, and even different things to say. Adventures break up into acts – sections where you accomplish up to three goals. These goals can range from moving to a certain point to killing a small army. String enough of these games together, throw in little dialogue, script a couple of sound and FX events, and you have a rather impressive romp across your alien world. If you happen to find a cool adventure floating out in the universe, the toolset allows players to download it and dissect the different pieces of the adventure.
The development team really stretched the limits of the game. And sometimes, they stretch it a little too far. The camera doesn’t handle small spaces too well. A number of times, there were clipping issues or my captain got stuck on an object in the environment. The little problems that appeared during the creature stage seem will still show up here. Overall, however, it’s an incredibly versatile and powerful tool for anyone who wants to get a taste of being a game developer.
With all this content, you would think that you could fill up the Milky Way. The missions however, come on their own planets, meaning that you can never take them over. On the reverse side of the coin, you can never just beam down to a random planet to restart the civilization stage. Besides the adventures missions, you’ll still need to take out infected species threatening the delicate ecosystem, find rare artifacts, and accomplish any number of the other missions given to you by your alien friends. The new adventure missions, for better or for worse, don’t completely override the pervious mission types. They’re more of a supplement to vast universe of choices already laid out before you.
Story wise, this expansion adds a confusing piece to the puzzle. As Spore demonstrated, the tools of the past fall to the wayside with each new level of evolvement. Spines become useless when you have to start interacting with other species. The spear falls to the might dollar or at least the might tank those dollars can buy. With the introduction of space, we’re introduced to a whole network of trade relations and feuding species we often have to maneuver around from our ship. Galactic Adventures throws us back to the creature stage by depending on your player-given talents. Centuries of evolution lead us back to spitting at people. To fit with the story, new skills could have been added first before having to rely on older traits.
The Fine Print
The idea looks great on paper but how will it work in the wild? Only time will tell. If you are someone who’s remotely interested in making videogames, then you should give this little adventure a spin. From design to application, Galactic Adventures gives budding Will Wrights of tomorrow the tools (however simple) to create and publish their work. With nearly instant feedback from subscribers, you can tweak and rework your ideas. If nothing else, you get a better understanding in what goes into a game even if all you do is design fetch quests.
Gamers just looking to expand their universe may be better off waiting at least for the number of missions to start building up. Spore Galactic Adventures may not add that much in terms of overall content, it does allow for more variety. Honestly, it won’t bring people back to Spore, but it will keep those already in the game glued to their tiny ship for awhile longer.