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Expansion Packs, Which Work, Which Don't And Why.
After reading the reviews for the new Doom 3 expansion pack I am pretty interested in picking up a copy. It has been generally well received and it looks to carry the game on in a good enough fashion to warrent its purchase. This got me thinking however, exactly what makes a good expansion pack? I have personally never owned an expansion pack for any of my games. I've always believed they never quite match the original title in one or more key aspects such as graphics, sound, gameplay, ect.

What are your opinions on expansion packs, do many really extend the game and create a new experience? Or, as I had always assumed, are they a quick way to cash in on successful title. Also, which expansion packs are good that I might have missed for other popular titles?
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Metlslime 
That's a shame really. The entire MOHAA series was well designed and built but would have been a lot more fun if the player could chose a difficulty setting that allowed them to enjoy the game. The settings, details and artwork were really well done. It must be dissapointing to have your work taken over and finished by another group that does not share your vision.

I played on EASY and I remember the lock picking sequence. It was insane. I did that sequence soooo many times before getting it by luck and not skill. I tried to use cheats but cheats don't spare Klaus. Games should be fun, not work, and difficulty settings should be designed to make the game inclusive to those who want to play - not to insult players who are not as skilled as what the designer think in order to be considered capable of finishing on easy (I mean, am I really that bad?)

Thumbs down to EA for not appreciating the importance of inclusive difficulty settings. If I could find a setting I liked, I'd probably be buying thier new MOH title but I'm afraid it may be too hard for me as well. I found RtCW to be perfect for me on Normal by comparison. 
Scraggy... 
...as anyone who's had the benefit of your beta test demos knows, you are NOT a bad FPS player. 
Oh God 
Juggernaut... For Quake 2

OH MY GOD NO I HAD BURIED THAT so DEEP 
Metlslime 
I also thought Breakthrough was way too hard compared to the original MOHAA. I had to use cheats just to get through it. I'm glad to hear that it wasn't the level designers but "Management" who tweaked it that way. I'm also glad to hear that I'm not the only one who had these issues.

It actually made me "Not" buy pacific assault because if everything was getting progressivly harder in the series and made it more like work instead of a game to enjoy then I could spend my money elsewhere. So I bought a bottle of Patrone instead (no replay value there except for the next morning). 
 
X-Men - I don't have it so I can offer no critique.

It sucked. A lot.

<3 SoA though, although it hasn't aged too well. Idbase forever :) 
Ha 
/me shoves 35 millions of idbase rivets up Ray's undies 
Plasma Pack 
Blood had 2 very good expansions if you ask me.

Plasma Pack kept up with the original Blood feel, while adding more variety to the monsters (namely the cultists themselves), but most importantly with just more good Bloody levels. Also it had a nice end boss that was a more interesting fight (in a better level) then the original game end. Though it seemed to lack any rhyme or reason for its existence, it was still an awesome pack of gameplay.

Another expansion was done by an amateur company, whos name I dont recall (the word Sun is in my mind now) but they created Cryptic Package, which could be purchased in the One Unit Whole Blood pack. Its level design wasnt quite on par with Monolith's at the time, but it offered some fresh Blood experiences including an opera house and a full-on graveyard.

I cant recall which expansion did it, but one level took place entirely on a steamboat going down what I would just presume to be the Mississippi, cause that kinda fits the odd atmosphere Blood had going for it.

I never did get around to playing any of the Q2 expansion packs unfortunately... Nor did I get a chance at Hellfire for Diablo (Id love to find a copy somewhere that was under $50....).

I considered OpForce and BlueShift to be better than HL. Though OpForce had the incredibly annoying sequence running through the pitch black tunnels with the massive aliens in it... I just found that annoying. That and the horrible teammate ai. 
Blood 
I agree that Blood (the first one) was a good game and the expensions were pretty good as well. My memory is vague but I think I was more impressed by Cryptic Passage then the Plasma Pack. Also, someone made a Quake level based on that steamboat level for Blood. I forget the details but I think they may have even converted textures.

I wonder if anyone has written a Windows port for Blood. Rancidmeat.com had a very good Duke3D port that runs well but I wonder if anyone wrote something similar for Blood. I think I'd have quite a task ahead to get the original Blood to run - it's a DOS game.

BTW, the official Expansion pack for Duke3D was called the Plutonium Pack. It was so-so. I think a bunch of the original mappers at 3D Realms bailed before it was finished. Also for Duke was the Duke in DC expansion pack which was actually pretty good and something else about a Vacation with Pigcops in Hawian shirts which I never played. 
Blood 
There is no port of Blood. The engine code is available, but the game code is not. It is owned by infogrames/Atari, and they refuse to release it (its hard to get them to acknowledge that they in fact own it, but Jason Hall of Monolith informed us they did).

So in retaliation, I convinced the Blood community to do qBlood, being as how Quake is completely open source now, and obviously capable of handling something at the level of detail as the Build engine. However it has gone through a checkered history of weird direction and choices... but it still stands and seems to be continuing in its development, though I have not checked it out in a while, at http://www.transfusion-game.com/ 
DeathKings 
I'm playing Death Kings of the Dark Citadel, the Hexen expansion pack, and it is great so far. It's just as good if not better than the original Hexen, which I loved. It's really good, wish there were new weapons/enemies, though. 
Hexen 
I never got too far in it without cheating. I simply got lost as to where I needed to go next.

But I always wanted to play that expansion due to the awesome name alone.

I never played the Heretic expansion either. 
Finished 
I finished the Hexen XP. I must say I had a blast with it, all the new levels were very intriguing and fun to play, even though there wasn't anything new in them. The only complaint I have from the level design point of view is that they were too easy. Even the final level, which was very drab and cliche, (A giant arena with hordes of monsters) was pretty easy, despite killing maybe 50+ monsters in 5 minutes.

I would recommend the Hexen XP as pure class. 
Blood... 
It was Sunstorm Interactive that produced the addon Cryptic Passage. That was the pack that had the riverboat which influenced The Queen of Ontranto from that swan-song Quake mod by some guy whose name I can't remember. 
Blood And RoE 
Ah yes, the name had been on the tip of my tongue for a while now (guess I coulda looked in my Blood folder, which has fallen into disuse due to XP and its inability to play Blood).

But as for expansion packs, I got around to purchasing RoE the other day, and have been playing it for a bit now... and so far, I am quite pleased. It could certainly use a bit more as far as scare factors go (I was honestly expecting a lot more from the second level by how they built it up) but there are significantly less "Oh God You Actually Touched the Armor, Have An Imp".

I was expecting much more conservative use of Hell Time, but they give you so much "ammo" for it throughout the levels...

I must say I approve of the Grabber, in that it seems much more balanced then the gravity gun in HL2. In HL2 Id find a heavy hard object, and just hold it indefinitely until I found an enemy, clock em in the head, and pick it back up and continue on my way. I didnt need the other guns. Whereas the Grabber is a good tool, but it does not replace the other guns at all, it is merely an accessory (and an ammo saver against certain lone enemies, and small ones like lost souls and trites). It is particularly effective against individuals of one of the new enemies (dont recall their name, but theyre fast, and if they get close Hell Time is about the only productive way to kill them, throws blue plasma) simply due to the fact that their projectiles just lob back quite nicely... I have trouble controlling the imp's fireballs on the other hand.

The double barreled shotgun is two steel tubes bearing an orgasm of buckshot. I must say the look, feel, and sound are marvelous. However I play with automatic reload off (if Im backpedaling and I just unloaded a full clip from the machinegun into an enemy, Im gonna switch to a shotgun or such instead of reloading the machinegun) and this really caught me off guard when I first used it, as it followed my settings of not automatically reloading, so I was vulnerable briefly, cause Im just used to the concept of a double barreled shotguns reloading being part of its animation. Now I understand that you are literally reloading in the case of the DBS, but you just dont expect to have to hit R after each click of Mouse1.

Ive still got a ways to go for RoE, but so far, I give it a B+/A-. It is certainly better in general than the original Doom3, but it has some issues still.

Has anyone else noticed the Z-Sec being particularly tough? In Doom3 I would open a door, the pull back and idle, with the shotgun ready, and as they enter, bam, gibs em. But in RoE it takes 3 good close range shots to just kill them, and with a DBS it only kills them in one shot if I am literally pressing the barrels into their neck. 
Lol 
The double barreled shotgun is two steel tubes bearing an orgasm of buckshot

bon mot grande! 
RoE Review 
So I finished RoE on Marine setting...

It is a mixed bag, that is mainly good. You can look up 2 posts to see what I thought of the guns.

The enemies were a bit disappointing... I dont consider The Forgotten to be a new enemy by any means, and the Vulgar is a bit too much like an Imp, though I can grab a Vulgar's projectiles easier and toss them back more accurately.

The large creatures... I dont know their names, the ones with the dual cannons and TVs for faces seemed threatening, but were so poorly used. I only encountered them twice in a situation where they werent trapped by the geometry, and then Hell Time was simply TOO powerful. So I didnt really get any sense of them, as they were barely around me for too long. In the other situations they got caught up on geometry, or their AI couldnt quite figure out how to walk around to me (or stand still and fire), so I just hung back and picked at them with grenades and the pistol. I would expect more from a creature who with every step, visibly shakes my surroundings.

The level design as a whole was much better, and I personally enjoyed revisiting old areas, only more thoroughly ensconced in Hell. However a lot more couldve been done with this.

In fact that seems to sum it up as a whole, a lot more couldve been done with it. The first level is drab and uninspiring, and the second one seems poised to give you the fright of your life, only it turns out to be rather typical in its flow. There was only about 2 "hauntings" and they were rather... muted. Which is fine in a more action oriented expansion, but the action was also ridiculously easy on Marine.

The hunters were mixed... as the first one was kind of annoying, and the second felt awkward. The third was a bit more fun to play, though strikingly similar to the gargoyle boss in Painkiller, only with an annoyingly difficult attack to dodge. And as for that, they are called hunters... but I never felt hunted. Hell seemed rather uninterested in getting the Artifact from me. The Hunters more of just seemed to occur in one set place, show you their weakness, and then go into a loop of motions. You shouldve had chance encounters with them, perhaps more simplistic ones, where you just had to deal a set amount of damage, and they would retreat. Or scenarios where you were on the verge of being clearly assaulted by one, but an uncontrollable situation, such as a support beam failure, or a reactor going down, caused the roof to cave in between you, or emergency blast doors to unexpectedly close (which could be hammered repeatedly and dented quite intimidatingly, but without success). There were lots of situations where they couldve done some form of cameo, where it felt like the whole scenario mattered.

Unfortunately it seems like youre just being led by the nose by McNeil, and shes not entirely sure of how to do things "umm... shut this down... okay, that didnt work, alright, shut this down also... hrmm...". It was brilliantly fun at times, but when more couldve been done, you REALLY notice it...

The boss fight was... annoying. I had no sense as to if I was doing him any harm or not, and the meteor attack is basically unavoidable... and then suddenly, the fight is over. I had no idea I was making any progress whatsoever, and then suddenly the game is out of my hands, only to deliver me with a very insufficient ending. I preferred even Doom3s original ending over this... In fact, the original Doom games text based endings with a pan of some large texture inspired more emotion.

In summary, it is good fun, and if you enjoyed any of Doom3's gameplay, then you will get pleasure from this expansion pack. Now if only it wasnt so blasted easy.

Give me a grabber, double barreled shotgun, machinegun, and Hell Time, and I could take down anything except for bosses quite easily. Except for just maybe the ONE Arch-Vile I encountered out of the entire experience. 
Well Hello... 
Another topic I'm replying to without reading the previous replies. So maybe it's all been covered already, but...

This got me thinking however, exactly what makes a good expansion pack?

Well, mostly the same things that make a good game i.e. good gfx, good gameplay, good control/feel, good atmosphere, good themes, good maps/textures/weapons/monsters, good story etc etc. If something's good, it's good, you know. However specifically as an expansion to a good game, I think a good mission pack should have:

Purpose - there should be some point to continuing the story, some point to continuing the game, something that ties in with the original and makes the mission pack feel like an important part of the game.

Consistency - obvious really. A QuakeX mission pack should be a QuakeX mission pack. It should fit in both thematically and gameplay-wise. If it does it will feel like part of the game, if it doesn't the disparaty will be jarring and distracting.

New stuff - I think it's good to have some new toys and monsters to play around with, providing, of course, they are strictly consistent with the game universe. Some people, myself included, would be happy with just new maps, but if good quality new stuff can be created to give more variety and a fresher experience, that's great.

That's it really.

What are your opinions on expansion packs, do many really extend the game and create a new experience?

Depends on the pack of course. Some definitely extend the game, giving it more flavour, depth, etc. Some just add "more of the same" without really improving it. A few detract from the original game by being purposeless or inconsistent. Ideally, most packs should do the former. However, I think there's also a role for the "more of the same" packs - unless a game is so long it gets boring, I think some players will happily keep playing more of the same style, particularly us custom map fans.

Or, as I had always assumed, are they a quick way to cash in on successful title.

Well, there's two issues there: The developer's intention, and the end result. The intention can either be "good" i.e. they want to expand the universe and enhance the original, or "bad" i.e. they want to cash in without caring too much about the purpose of a mission pack. And the end product can either be good or bad. Of course it would be nice if a good mission pack had good intentions behind it, but equally if it's genuinely good, the intentions don't really matter. If a company does it purely for the easy money, and still makes a good mission pack, it's still good.

Also, which expansion packs are good that I might have missed for other popular titles?

Well...

Quake:

Scourge Of Armagon - definitely good, does all a mission pack should.

(Dissolution Of Eternity - only okay, good because it's more Quake, but bad because it goes against the guidelines above)

Quake 2:

The Reckoning - good, not as purposeful as SOA, but good quality all round.

Zaero - also good, less purposeful and more disparate but good quality in general.

(Ground Zero - only okay for similar reasons to DOE although it has a great monster and terrible turret gameplay).

Half-Life:

The mission pack who's name I've forgotten - probably good if you really like HL, it certainly has purpose and coherency which is great but I'm not sure about the gameplay.

Unreal:

Return To Na Pali - good but falls into more of the same category for much of it. However it is consistent, good quality and some of the new things are cool.

....that's all there is I think.


Good topic, BTW. 
BLOOD Expansions 
just wanna chip in on Blood Xps

the first was Cryptic Passage and it was made not by some "amateur" company, well, it was just *small* company SunStorm Interactive who previously did pretty popular Duke it Out in DC addon for Duke3D and many more other stuff.

considering that all they could do were just levels and additional textures, they did amazing job on CP. they couldn't add new enemies or weapons or items because the way blood was compiled, not like Duke3D where you could write up some .CON files for say, some new enemies.

the levels in CP are great - one of the best of SunStorm's addons EVER (they also did Redneck Rampage Route 66, Duke Nuclear Winter, Duke Life's a Beach, Duke!Zone2 and maybe more, i forgot), and i think it deserved the review's taglines "Better than the original". while the story was so-so but who cares, the levels were all more bigger, and more detalied than Blood's. i loved it, but many Bloodites found CP frustrating, i dunno why, because they were tired of roaming around the first level with those caves and boat docks.

only bad thing about CP i can say is the buggy secret counters in some levels, some secrets could count as two, and some you could visit but not always trigger it. oh yeah and some new textures (the additional textures in those versions of blood were also very limited) were great too

now PLASMA PAK is special for me and some of the cult bloodites who creep around the Transfusion (formerly known as qBlood) Forums because it brought back the original roots of blood.

for some reason, a heavy bulk of PLASMA levels are from the BLOOD ALPHA period (there's a leaked alpha with all those early versions of plasma pack levels. the alpha itself feels more like it was heavily under heretic influence, it was more 'magic' and more 'medieval'), it brought back the monsters from Alpha - the Beast boss, the plants. and added some cool weapon modes

because it's strange and odd because there's no story, nothing is ever said why and what the fuck is caleb doing in the new episode. noone knows to this day. :) the point of Plasma that it's not and addon, it's more of a blast from the past. like a pack of what's been there and was removed.

the plasma has the art for caleb's beast morp and caleb's beast hands as a weapon, THEY HAD THIS feature in the early stages of development but it was dropped for some reason, the idea was upon killing numerous monsters caleb would go in bloodlust rage and transform into the beast running like mad slashing everyone just like the plasma pack boss, and painkiller done this idea beautifully :)

i think that's why plasma wasn't accepted that well, because it was just pulling up very old levels (and not updating them much, i mean there are tons of grey brick texturing, wtf) rather than making some new ones and cryptic passage is overall better known among the players. as for me, they are both valuable additions. cuz i love this game as much as quake1 =)

someone said Blood II had a good expansion.

i strongly disagree and imho blood II was VERY VERY RUSHED and the Nightmares addon looks more like an apology to the fans. which was VERY VERY SMALL, CHAOTIC, BUGGY and RUSHED. just like the original blood II game. although b2+xp had some cool features and moments but overall they're utter crap. 
Uhm.. 
you just posted 617 words about blood 1(!) exp pakcs in a thread about general ones. Congratulations, you just qualified yourself as an UBER-GEEK! Have a nice time and dont forget to bring us your price. 
You Counted The Words? 
Now who is the bigger geek? 
Emacs 
does it for me 
 
so what 
Megaman Just Defeated Gayman And Got His Powers: RAINBOW SLASH 
 
Emacs, 
eeeemmmaaacccss

I must fight the urge to reinstall Linux . . .

Oh God, the Perl Reference Guide is staring me down.

It's going to be a long night.

Thanks Megamam, thanks, a lot. 
MegaMa'am 
Ha. That's not really amusing.

:( 
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