Looking back on it now, it's hard to believe how addicted I was to Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords last year. From the moment I played the pre-release build I knew that this was the game for me, an ingenious mixture of puzzle solving and role-playing. No matter if it was on the PSP, Nintendo DS or Xbox Live Arcade, Puzzle Quest kept me coming back day after day, for months at a time. Thankfully my addiction to Puzzle Quest has subsided, thanks to a steady supply of triple-A titles. Now, thanks to D3's brand new expansion pack, I am starting to chase the dragon once again.
First and foremost, Puzzle Quest: Revenge of the Plague Lord is not a brand new game. Instead it's an expansion pack for the Xbox Live Arcade version of Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords. This is not a stand-alone product, this is a 700 point add-on that requires the already $10 game. Not that this is a bad thing, ever since completing the story I have been clamoring for more quests, more dungeons, more enemies and more puzzles. The good news is that this Puzzle Quest expansion pack definitely delivers the goods ... but at what cost?
As an expansion pack, Puzzle Quest: Revenge of the Plague Lord delivers on a lot of things people have been asking for. The game offers up a couple new bosses, a handful of new characters, some cool new enemies to capture, all sorts of new magic to cast and another 25 quests to conquer. And that's not all; this expansion also offers four new character classes, including the bard, rogue, ranger and warlock. No matter whether you just want to beat the new missions or start over from the beginning, Revenge of the Plague Lord has more than enough content to keep you going.
So let's say that you're like me, a big fan of the game that has captured all of the enemies and maxed out his character's level. If this describes you then you're in luck, because Revenge of the Plague Lord picks up right where you left off. You get the brand new 25 quests, the new enemies, new bosses and new magic. But the most important thing is that your character can now level up an extra ten levels, all the way up to level 60. This may not seem significant, but it definitely adds a few more hours of gameplay to what is already a phenomenal adventure/puzzle game.
But maybe it's been too long since you played through Puzzle Quest; I mean, let's face it, the original game came out close to a year ago. If this describes you then you're in for a good time, because the four new classes actually make the game feel a little different. Don't get me wrong, this isn't going to completely change the way you play the game, but it does offer enough of a twist to make you want to go back through it another time or two. The new classes are fun and interesting and they certainly have their own pros and cons. Best of all, you will see the brand new levels added in seamlessly throughout the quest, complete with an additional 50 achievement points.
Let's be clear, there is nothing about this game that will radically change the feel of Puzzle Quest. At best this is going to offer you an additional few hours of gameplay and some brand new options; it is not going to act as a sequel by any stretch of the imagination. If all you are looking for is some brand new content so that you can feel that Puzzle Quest addiction again, then Revenge of the Plague Lord will more than fit the bill.
Oddly enough, I found that some of this new content was a little hard to locate. This is not one of those expansion packs where you enter a new world that looks and feels completely different (i.e. The Elder Scrolls IV: Shivering Isles). Instead all of the new content just sort of fits into the pre-existing game, which means that you'll actually have to find it. The first set of levels weren't so hard to locate, however, finding the actual Plague Lord quests took some looking around. I noticed that I wasn't the only one having this problem, there were quite a few gamers on the various message boards who were confused and thought that this expansion pack only contained seven or eight new quests. I'm not sure if the developers could have done anything about this given the limitations of the original game, but a point in the right direction would have been nice (especially since this game comes with no instruction manual outlining what is new).
Unfortunately, this additional content does not come cheap. Puzzle Quest: Revenge of the Plague Lord rings up at a whopping 700 points, which is only a dollar less than the full game (which is significantly longer). Now granted, the 800 point Challenge of the Warlords has been reduced in price (it used to retail for 1200 points), but that doesn't change the fact that this expansion pack feels awfully expensive. That's not to say that there isn't a lot of great content here, because there is, however it's strange to see an Xbox Live Arcade expansion pack with such a high price point. I suspect that more people would be willing to give this a chance if it was 200 or 300 points cheaper (perhaps around the $5 point), which is a shame because there are going to be a lot of people that miss out on some exceptional content.
Either way, Puzzle Quest: Revenge of the Plague Lord is a worthy expansion pack that offers enough new content to make it worthwhile for anybody who loved the original game. As a recovering Puzzle Quest addict, I found myself quickly getting back into the swing of things without any trouble. This is a perfect stopgap between the old game and future Puzzle Quest games, but the high price is going to turn a lot of casual fans of the game off. If you can get past that price you'll find a spectacular expansion pack.
Revenge of the Plague Lord is a good stopgap until we get a true Puzzle Quest sequel, but its high price point may turn a lot of gamers off. Still, if you can get past the 700 point price you will discover that the new content adds a lot to what is one of the best games of the last few years!
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