|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Maxis||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Electronic Arts||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 23, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Nathan Meunier
Many years in the making, Spore is a highly ambitious effort that lets you play god to an alien civilization of your own design and guide them through life from the earliest cellular stage all the way to the furthest reaches of outer space. Will Wright and Maxis set out to concoct a massive SimEverything by throwing elements of creature and item creation, evolution, global expansion, tribalism, and space exploration into an intergalactic stew. Their efforts were largely successful, though some intrepid explorers craved more.
As impressive as the finished product was, the gameplay in some of the evolutionary stages lacked a measure of cohesion and depth that didn't sit well with some players. Reaching the space stage, the fifth and final step in your alien civilization's progression towards intergalactic dominance, opened up a much larger realm to explore and additional possibilities for interaction with other species - without ever having to get out of your spaceship. Along with a few other welcome features, the Spore Galactic Adventures expansion opens up the space stage even further by letting you once again beam down planet-side for some hands-on adventuring.
Tooling around in your space ship, taking on missions, accruing resources, and making nice (or not so nice) with other inhabitants of the galaxy is an appropriate climax to Spore's evolutionary progression. However, once you stepped foot, talon, or tentacle in your space ship and blasted off towards the stars, there was no turning back. It was a shame to have to bid adieu to controlling your sentient alien beast up close and personal, but it's a heartbreak you will no longer have to endure. Galactic Adventures lets you continue exploring the cosmos in your armored space vessel to your hearts content but also gives you the leeway to take on wildly new and inventive quests on tons of strange planets found throughout the galaxy.
Out of the box, the expansion comes with a handful of new, Maxis-created adventures, and the Sporepedia is already chock-full of many user-created quests to explore. These planetary exploits can be accessed individually for quick play directly through the game's main menu, though they're also seamlessly integrated into the final stretch of the main game. Those who are already well-into Spore's space stage will be called to a nearby planet for an explanation of how the mission system and other new elements work. Aside from quests to explore, the add-on introduces a new experience system that turns your creature into a space captain. You're rewarded experience points for each adventure you successfully complete, allowing you to gradually level-up to achieve new titles and unlock powerful new items, accessories, weaponry, and armor to equip. This may seem minor, but it does add another layer of tangible goals to pursue and rewards you for your efforts accordingly.
The adventures themselves closely resemble the gameplay from Spore's creature stage, only they're often more elaborately designed to incorporate plot elements and different types of play. You'll guide your creature captain - and a few cohorts if you choose - around in third-person perspective through scenarios on each planet's surface. The social skills and attack maneuvers you previously possessed are available once again to use for accomplishing many different tasks. Adventures are broken down into different types of gameplay encounters, including social interaction, combat, racing, escort missions, item fetch quests, puzzles, and more. A few of the Maxis-created expansion levels tend to focus on one gameplay aspect at a time, though others incorporate different levels of complexity in objectives. Longer adventures are typically broken into a series of sub-quests with varying goals to pursue, and you can track your progress by an indicator at the bottom of the screen. On average, most adventures are reasonably short. They can last anywhere from a minute or two to about twelve minutes and are designed for quick play sessions.
The inclusion of a handful of hilarious adventures put together by the creators of Cartoon Network's Robot Chicken showcase just how far the game's new quest building tools can be pushed. One adventure drops you inside a planet-size snow globe populated with deranged mutant snowmen, skiing unicorns, and exploding penguins and tasks you with assembling a machine to catapult yourself high atop a tower where a maiden insists you must not push the giant evil red button.