Expansion Packs, Good, Bad, Sequel?

By Zott820Zott820


This article is not going to be about which games are awesome, and which are not. Primarily, it is going to be used to highlight a couple game's Expansions I’ve played/read about and categorize them on how well they do as an Expansion Pack. They will be sorted as following: Good Expansions, Bad Expansions, and Should have been an Expansion.

Good Expansions are ones that add onto the original game with hours of new content. They don’t have to have as many hours of gameplay as the original game, but add enough that the player can be satisfied with their purchase. These expansion packs may decide to break from the usual gameplay, or simply add more missions/items etc that there wasn’t time for in the original game.

Bad Expansions add little or no new content. They seem unorganized, thrown together, or made just for a quick buck. Also, they may not add more value than a small DLC yet are still categorized as an Expansion.

Should have been an Expansion is reserved for games that are sequels yet they really don’t add all that much that is new. For example, they may use the exact same game engine. The story may be different, and there may be some new characters, but there really isn’t anything they couldn’t have done with the old game.

And now for some lists with brief explanations.

Good Expansion Packs:

Majesty - The Northern Expansion: This add-on not only unlocked more missions to play, both with the quirkiness of the originals, but also added new landscapes for the maps, more enemies, and a couple more buildings. The gameplay overall remained the same, but this is a good thing.

Red Alert 2 -Yuri’s Revenge: Some might say this is a bad expansion for the cheapness that is Yuri’s army, however, overall I think it is still good. The tech trees for the races have been shifted, and a new campaign added. Also there are added customizations that are beneficial, like being able to choose teams for the computer players. The expansion acts like a completely new game, but luckily at an expansion pack price. You can also play the original game using the old EXE, so it is as though the games are separate.

Morrowind – Bloodmoon: I guess what I liked about this expansion was not only was there a new physical landmass, unlike the secluded Tribunal expansion areas, but that there were some new things to do. You could become a werewolf and hunt down people, or you could build up a colony, which would actually change shape as you helped it progress. Not only that but there are alternate paths on how to complete the quest. While there were not too many new areas, I felt the price was worth admission in this case.

Company of Heroes - Opposing Fronts: Yes this is a standalone game, but it is also an add-on which gives you the choice of playing without the original installed. It is placed here in the good Expansion territory since it adds so much new content; two new campaigns and two different races so that it could qualify as a completely separate game.

Tropico: Paradise Island: To be honest, while playing this, since it came included with the Tropico: Mucho Macho Edition, I couldn’t really tell what was new, and what was old. I will consider it a testament to how well it blended in, and did not ruin the game’s experience, so I consider it a good expansion.

Sims expansion packs that add new gameplay tweaks: I’m looking at you Sims 2 Open for Business. You not only added a new way to play, but it almost changes The Sims 2 from a life simulator to a RTS or business tycoon. The Sims 2 almost became a side game with that expansion. Another good expansion that does the same is Seasons though not quite on the same level. Many of the Original Sims expansions were later incorporated into the vanilla Sims 2, like House Party, but when they were first released, they were quite fun.

Starcraft - Broodwar & Warcraft 3 – The Frozen Throne: I threw both of these into the same category because they added the same thing for their respective games. I.E. 3 new campaigns and a couple new units per race. Adds more of the same, but its good. Though I do take a little offense from Broodwar having units that were created to be included with the original game. (Like the Valkyrie)

Bad Expansions:

Star Trek Elite Force – Expansion Pack: I love the original game, but sadly this expansion doesn’t add much besides the Voyager Virtual tour. It doesn’t help that the 1.2 patch adds most of the content to owners of the vanilla game. At the end of the day you better feel content with perhaps an hour of new content and a couple of new developer textures, otherwise, the price on this expansion was way too high.

Company of Heroes - Tales of Valor: Bundling together 3 DLC does not a good add-on make. I haven’t played the “expansion” but from the reviews I heard, it would probably have been better off if a little bit more was added to the mix.

The Sims Expansions that simply added new places to explore or only new objects: Livin’ Large for the original Sims slides by since it was more of a test of the market and added some cool objects like Servo. As for the rest, like Vacation, or Nightlife, it just felt like by adding somewhere new for your Sims to go, it automatically validates a purchase. My Sims can go to the moon? Holy smokes, count me in for $30.

Morrowind Tribunal: Felt more like DLC than an Expansion. If DLC had taken off around the time of its release, that is what this would have been, ala Fallout 3 DLC. I just didn’t feel like there was enough here, or else I didn’t enjoy it enough.

Games that should have been Expansions:

Crysis Warhead: Difficult to classify; Granted, this game is standalone, but at heart, it really isn’t all that different than the original Crysis. True, they tweaked the game engine, and added a couple new weapons and a new story, but it could have just been an add-on. I will give them credit that it was priced at an Expansion pack level but following the criteria I set up this game belongs here.

Jedi Knight Academy: Way too many reused assets to count as a sequel. Same game engine, many of the same character models, and weapons that are just crossed over. True there was a new story, but as with the other expansions, that doesn’t necessarily make it worthy of being called a new game, and charging full price.

Descent II: I like this game more than the first, it is an improvement in many ways, however it uses the same core engine and many of the added features were possible in the first game.

Oregon Trail 3-5: These games are all rehashes of Oregon Trail II. It saddens me to think that so little was added in each revision.

Marathon - Infinity: With the addition of one new texture set, one new weapon and a new campaign, it didn't feel as though there was enough new to justify a full game release here. Granted they released the tools to modify the game with it, but so do other companies, and they don't "charge for it". I love Marathon, just this is just an expansion at its core, not enough leap like there was from Marathon 1 to Marathon 2.

Star Wars - Battlefront II: I just feel that the space combat and new jedi are not justifiable to sell this as a completely new game. There were vehicles in the first game, changing the backdrop and adding a new gametype just doesn't do it for me. This in addition to the first game feeling as though it probably could have used some additional polishing.

Left 4 Dead 2: It is one thing to add new enemies, new levels and melee weapons to a game, it is another thing to do it within a year release of the original game and call it a sequel.

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