By Alex H. Nagler

When Spore first came out, I was excited. I had been following the game since the 2005 Will Wright presentation, where it looked like it would be an amazing sandbox game with unlimited possibilities. Then the game actually came out. What was supposed to be a sandbox turned out to be a disappointment. I purchased the game the day it came out, wasted my time playing it, and was sad to realize that there was nothing there once the game opened up into the space stage.

I was not alone in my feelings. Many gamers felt the same way as I did, and the outrage was noted on the Amazon.com sales page for the game, which holds a one star review for the game, namely for its excessive use of Digital Rights Management (DRM). This use of DRM has turned Spore into one of the most pirated games of 2008. Spore, in an attempt to curry the favor of gamers, has announced its first actual game-based expansion pack, “Galactic Adventures.” At New York City ComiCon, I discussed the expansion with one of its producers.

“Galactic Adventures” is all about missions. These missions create a story on a planet (other than your own) that can be done in five acts. They allow the users to beam their players down from their ships and engage on the planet. They can do battle with local forces, collect items, or socialize with those on the ground. How they behave directly depends on how they played the previous stages up to this one. A creature that hadn’t gone on any killing sprees in the game prior to this will find it easier to sing and dance, whereas warmonger creatures will enjoy the feel of a ray gun in their hands as they destroy everything around them for fun and profit. The quests the players engage in will reward them with new weapons, new items and new gear.

Sadly, these actions and their rewards are the same as the socialization, battle, and quest engines of the already existing game. The main difference is that the parts a player put on their creatures now have actual purposes, which modify the abilities of the creature. The clothes, previously decorative at best, will now serve as armor and weapons for when the creature emerges from its spaceship and engages with the local clientele.

When creating adventures, players have the option to modify the world as well as the action. Tools that should have been available in a more usable nature from the start of the game are now easily accessible to the player. Among these tools are topographical ones, color ones, and ones that allow you to place flora. Place, not edit. The flora editor, existing in the crippled form when hacked through the main game, is still not fully alive. The producer I spoke with was unable to tell me when it would ever be fully functional.

Other modifications not made are the ability to pilot more than one ship, the ability to trade spices automatically, and the overall ability to have any sodding fun with the game. Spore still has a ways to go before the game that was shown in 2005 is the game that is available to play.

Spore Galactic Adventures costs $30 and will be available on May 19.