Review

Spore Review (PC)

Spore. {Noun} A walled, single Ė to many Ė celled, reproductive body of an organism capable of giving rise to a new individual either directly or indirectly. Will Wright, known for The Sims, has been moulding a vision for the last four years. Maxis / EAís latest PC adventure is an attempt to bring forth a scale unforeseen in video gaming. It is a game that takes the player on a journey from microbe to space faring race. It lets you tinker, create, destroy, marvel, rejoice and laugh at everything you do. Itís the first massively singleplayer offline game ever. Does the ambition pay off, evolving the gaming gene pool or does it revert back to a primeval soup of hashed ideas?

Spore is split into five distinct evolutionary stages and the easiest way to work through the review is by taking each one in turn. Youíre got the cell, creature, tribal, civilization and space stage. Each rung in the ladder has an editor and creation options. You start at the bottom and thatís where we begin; the cell stage.


Celebration
Incoming

Youíre a microbe, nothing bigger than Bacteria. Youíre main aim is to survive and eat. Itís a simple existence which is explored with equally simple controls. Depending on your choice of diet; carnivore, omnivore or herbivore, you swim around eating your way through several growth stages. The more you eat, the bigger you get. Eventually youíll find nothingís too big for your appetite and the sense of danger relaxes. Youíre the predator opposed to the prey. Clicking a certain direction (or using the arrow keys) moves your creature among the currents. Along the way youíll find new creature parts and youíll be able to add simple defences and bits that increase your swimming speed. The best part? Seeing creatures in the background gradually getting bigger. Itís a gorgeous way of showing an impressive sense of scale.

Next comes legs and arms. In the creature stage youíre on land with one of two goals. You can either survive by befriending fellow creatures or destroy them in a flurry of cutesy violence. The former is undertaken through dance, singing, posing and the later through biting, spitting and poisoning. You can also dig for fossils, allowing you to improve your creature with more advanced parts. On occasion youíll be asked to migrate to a new nest. Thatís it. Thereís nothing more to the creature stage. Youíre stuck on a continent, surrounded by weird and wonderful creations. The gameplay quickly becomes repetitive and grinds into monotony. If it wasnít for the shared content, youíd be forgiven for switching off.

The game continues the repetitiveness through the tribal stage. After youíve garnished your creature with various tribal trinkets youíre posed with another two choices. You can conquer the surrounding tribes or charm them into submission with your musical skills. Your village can be upgraded with buildings which provide your tribes-people with upgrades. Thereís the option to carry more food, fish more fish, turn them into axe warriors, spearmen, healer shamans. Whatever your choice, youíll most likely find the stage a grind. Thereís not much skill involved. You just churn out new tribe members to replace the old ones while keeping the food count in the plus.


Rain of Death
Through the worm hole

Then the game becomes interesting again. The civilization stage takes place on a whole planet and lets you, again; wage war, conquer through religion or financially destroy the competition. You get to create your own vehicles (land, sea and air), buildings (factory, house and entertainment) and a city hall. Income is brought in through factories, which in turn need to be balanced with entertainment so the inhabitants stay happy. Capturing spice mines will give your coffers a tidy boost. The stage plays out like a watered down RTS. Itís a good stepping stone for those who may be interested in the genre, but arenít ready for anything hardcore. It doesnít take that long to get through once youíre on a certain path.

Space: The Final Frontier. Itís goodbye planet, hello universe. The final creator is unlocked and once youíve got your ship ready for launch, itís time to blast off into space. The space stage is by far the most complex and entertaining part of Spore. Playing out like a 4x Strategy game you move from star system to star system, conferring with other races, trading, setting up colonies, starting wars, earning badges, exploring and generally playing god. The game really shines. Navigation comes down to mouse wheeling in and out of planets. Itís a zoom system that works flawlessly. The scale is phenomenal and if you explore the whole of the galaxy youíll be there for years.


Tribal
WMDs

The real joy of Spore comes from its creation tools. You can create anything. Itís truly staggering. The editor is beyond simple and with practice you can churn out Maxis quality creations in no time. You can then upload videos of them directly to YouTube or add them to the Sporepedia, an online database searchable in game where you can instantly download anyone elseís creations. Your game world will be populated by them and theirs yours. You donít influence their actual game, just provide them with content. Itís such a streamlined process that youíll fail to appreciate whatís going on. Itís Sporeís saving grace.

Without the creation / sharing feature the game fails to hold much substance. Itís a broad scope of what could have been possible. For the hardcore gamer, youíll find little to hold you. Spore is a game to delve into over an extended period of time. Itís a game to bring gamers together and while it doesnít continue its strength throughout, it definitely shows what can be done.


Best Moment: Making Penis Monsters.

Videos

Comments

By V4ndall (SI Veteran Member) on Sep 15, 2008
V4ndall
The funny thing is that in reviewer's opinion the game returned to be interesting actually in a moment when I considered it to be most boring - the civilization stage, so it brings a conclusion that actually different people might find different parts most appealing, so maybe the strength of the game lies in being able to provide some fun for as large audience as possible... As for me I think it'd be better to make it some kind of pet sim (like virtual dogs etc.) where you can create your creature (given that in all reviews I've read and IMO the creators are the masterpiece of the whole thing) and just play with him for fun from time to time. The game would then present exactly what it is, and no one would be let down by oversimplification as it is now.
By ScythSoulces (SI Core) on Sep 15, 2008
ScythSoulces
Now this is a very funny looking game.
By Nicolas19 (SI Core Veteran) on Sep 15, 2008
Nicolas19
Well, I own this game, bought it for my godson, he's admires it. Too shallow, far too repetitive, but the crative parts just keep you coming back for more. Kinda funny, as I liked the Tribal Stage most - not like the author of this review - it had by far the best atmosphere.
By herodotus (SI Herodotus) on Sep 15, 2008
herodotus
"The real joy of Spore comes from its creation tools. You can create anything. It’s truly staggering. " That seems to be the most popular part of the game, and to think it's free in Australia.
By jhellie_baby (SI Newbie) on Sep 17, 2008
jhellie_baby
What are some strategies and cheats to build the strongest spore alien race and conquer the universe?
By lichlord (SI Core) on Sep 29, 2008
lichlord
good game

i know some cheats on this game ... but none really good th most i use is
moremoney(civ and space)
and
addDNA(creature)

cheathappens has made a trainer for unlimited complex it not free yet but soon it wil be can't wait t make a super creature :p
By Mandalorain (SI Newbie) on Nov 07, 2008
Mandalorain
The game is great i spend most of my time just randomly creating stuff. But even with me just creating mostly i still have 3 creatures that i took from cell all the way to space.

In some was i think people blew this game out of proportions and when they get it they are annoyed its not what the thought it was, but its exactly what Maxis said it would be.

Over all my rating is a 10............AND LONG LIVE GIM THE RULERS OF THE UNIVERSE...end of line
By nobuargaoda (SI Core Veteran) on Dec 07, 2008
nobuargaoda
Yes, the game is great. Looks like Impossible Creature, isn't it?
By Nicolas19 (SI Core Veteran) on Dec 08, 2008
Nicolas19
Impossible Creatures had more freedom. I don't like in Spore, that they dropped the idea that should've been the core: evolution. You don't evolve your legs, find them instead. You don't evolve to the next phase, miraculously get there if there is no one left to kill. And the charming... come on, have you seen any animals dancing, singing, clapping at each other?
By nobuargaoda (SI Core Veteran) on Dec 08, 2008
nobuargaoda
Hahaha, Nicolas19 you're funny! And i agree with you! I prefer Imp. Creature to this Spore!
By devel (SI Elite) on Dec 08, 2008
devel
Maybe you hate spore because of it's RTS component. I loved the creature stage where we could roam free, but when i got to a civilized community i didn't enjoy it very well, and since then i haven't played so i can¬ęt talk about Space stage. But overall it ain't that bad and people love it in one way or another.
By nobuargaoda (SI Core Veteran) on Dec 09, 2008
nobuargaoda
Ain't that bad, that's true....but about the creature creation, compared with Impossible Creature, I think Impossible Creature wins!
By richard58 (SI Newbie) on Dec 09, 2008
richard58
Very cool game!! mixing all kinds of games, which can sicken not the players!
Has very good graphics, and what enchants is the interface total we have with the game.
By lichlord (SI Core) on Feb 18, 2009
lichlord
impossible creatures is about fusing 2 animals to gget one spore is creating an plant/animal/bug and let it come intellegennt and so on...
By crawlroman (SI Core) on Mar 12, 2009
crawlroman
This game is one of my favorites=D
I LOVE it=D
By Hamarik (SI Core) on Mar 12, 2009
Hamarik
i plaied it on iphone and it looked after 2 days boring beacuse i reached space age !!!
By Wowerine (SI Elite) on Mar 12, 2009
Wowerine
You played it on iPhone, and yet you are talking about this game here (PC game), that you haven't played. So if I say I played Prince of Persia on a cellphone, and didn't like it, I shouldn't like the "REAL" game. :|
By slaythat (SI Veteran Member) on Apr 14, 2009
slaythat
Spore merges multiple run-of-the-mill building blocks into a big, entertaining game.

The Good:
Intuitive and comprehensive customization tools Oozes charm at every turn Impressively broad scope Great audio and art design.
The Bad:
Individual gameplay elements are extremely simple Early stages aren't very engaging