Ride a Spaceship to Adventure
Spore Galactic Adventures has a lot riding against it from the get-go, but then again the original Spore had a lot riding against it as well. While Spore allowed players to create a species, and control that species from being a microorganism to a space empire with a vast amount of creative freedom; the game had its share of problems that were inevitable due to its design. In being an “everything” simulator Spore made the inevitable compromise in that no one element or “stage” had any real depth to it. Also going from one stage to the next showed how it was relatively haphazardly seamed together, and some stages just felt flat. To some Galactic Adventures seems like a glimmer of hope that these various holes and inadequacies that Spore had will now be filled. Unfortunately this is untrue for the most part as Galactic Adventures feels like a Band-Aid applied to a serious wound, but that doesn’t stop Galactic Adventures from being a fun experience filled with some truly exhilarating moments.
As already stated Galactic Adventures has a lot going against it from the start. Firstly the expansion pack only addresses the Space Stage, so as a result players are still left with the rudimentary and mundane Tribal and Civilization stages. As a result designing boats, cars, airplanes, and buildings still remains far less compelling than designing your persistent creature. Secondly, Spore still locks you into one of three paths for how your civilization will function (warlike, religious, or economic) meaning the rule set for the game is still intrinsically simple (herbivore=peaceful=religious). So if you thought that Spore was disappointing because you felt like the game was a droll and shallow amalgamation of various game types which were done better in other games, then Galactic Adventures is going to nothing to dissuade of your opinion.
However for those seeking to add a new layer of depth to your Spore experience Galactic Adventures fits the bill. The expansion pack introduces the idea of adventures, which are planetary-based missions that you can pursue with your Space Captain, basically your avatar. This Captain is a welcome addition because, unlike your advisers from the latter stages of the original Spore, the Captain actually has some much needed character. Sure the Space Captain may be as goofy as Spore will let him be, but he still seems vastly more interesting then the advisers you deal with during the Space Stage.
If you're playing the Space Stage, these adventures integrate into the existing campaign, so you'll fly around the galaxy in your starship, and every now and then you can beam down to the planet to conduct a mission. Or you can choose to play adventures in a stand-alone fashion by calling up the adventure gallery in the Sporepedia. If you are uninterested in exploring user created missions don’t worry as Maxis has populated the expansion pack with dozens of pre-made adventures. While some of these adventures are truly well designed they mostly feel like templates for users to use as a bearing for when they decide to design their own adventures.
In Galactic Adventures the tools are there for players to design and create whole adventures and missions for the Spore community to try and play. This plays on Spore’s greatest feature, the Sporepedia. The ability to share and receive user created content from around the world remains as addictive and enjoyable as ever. Sure most of the missions you’ll face are fetch quests and escort missions, but every single one of these missions have their own little flair to them, which is further assisted by Spore’s bawdy and sometimes immature (though welcomed) sense of humor. Also there are some truly note worthy gems that continue to boggle me as to how someone was able to make them.
Yet the addition of adventuring to Spore has its unforeseen issues. A growing annoyance is that with the addition of adventures the Sporepedia is beginning to become increasingly crowded, making it difficult to locate content not from users you have already subscribed to. Secondly, and to put it bluntly, adventure editing isn't going to be for everyone. The tools are designed to be user friendly, just like the rest of Spore, so you don't need to be a programming whiz or computer technician to piece together an adventure, but as you could probably figure out it's considerably more involving and taxing to create an adventure mission than it is to create a single creature or building. However, the tools still remain immensely versatile, and if you find yourself taken aback by the tools then don’t worry as there’s probably someone on the other side of the world publishing a parody of your favorite television show. The results can be impressive if you put the work into it and have the diligence to sort through all of your options.
One issue that can be discovered with the adventures is the sometimes unforeseen difficulty with some missions. What happens is that your captain levels up just as your spaceship would during the Space Stage. The issue with this is that Galactic Adventure has no real indicator showing whether or not your captain is prepared to handle the adventure you are about to partake in. Often times you’ll find yourself pitted against numerous heavily armed foes that end you within seconds, and you’ll never see this coming. However with this annoyance noted the adventures still remain enjoyable overall, and discovering a truly enchanting adventure is as enthralling as meeting up with a fantastically designed creature in the original Spore.
All of this is still adding width, not depth, but it's hard to get too upset with an expansion that goes to this much effort to offer a new experience. So while it may only be a slight alleviation to the various issues gamers faced in the original Spore, Galactic Adventures still manages squeeze in some truly fun and enjoyable moments.