As you might have heard, Spore is here! After countless delays and backtracks one of the most anticipated games of the year has finally arrived. So what is there to do in Spore? Everything. You start by naming the planet that you are on, and choosing your creatures diet. The diet is important because essentially it gives you personality, i.e herbivores are generally good, omnivores being neutral while carnivores are evil.
After choosing you proceed to the Cell stage, this Pac-Man style stage has you scourging the oceans for bits or meat or plant depending on preference, but beware! Other creatures are hungry as well, and I’m sure you look like a tasty morsel right about now. Collect enough DNA points to evolve legs and make your way on to land.
This is where you potentially have the ability to alter your creature until the end of time, after this stage your creature can not go under any physical alterations aside from color of skin. What I enjoyed most about this stage was just how in depth the versatility can go. I’m talking about making anything your heart desires, ogrish looking fiends, to cute cuddly bouncing balls! Like toy poodles? Make an entire race of them. The possibilities are endless, and the great thing is you can share your creation online with other Spore enthusiasts. Personally, I went the carnivore type mainly because it seemed the easiest to go. Once on land, you begin to search your new found home for friends, or food, or both. As you progress your nest migrates and provoke you to follow. You encounter tougher creatures along the way, but make sure you collect all the parts from skeletons on the floor and Alpha creatures! Now although in this stage the parts you use affect how strong your abilities are, at the end of the chapter you can customize your creature to your wishes and it won’t affect their strength. (Atleast not that I noticed when I changed my creature three times between Creature and Tribal stages) So essentially, the more parts you have, the more unique your creature could look.
This is where the game changes between third person “shooter” mode to real-time strategy (RTS) mode. After making your permanent selections for creature appearance, your character dons a staff with a skull on it and you become a tribal leader. The essential theme of this chapter is to become familiarized with the RTS interface before getting to the more complicated stages. The only customization options here are changes you can make to the garments your tribe wears. Masks, axes, musical instruments and more are available, which each adding their own specific trait and upgrade. The main task in basically to conquer neighboring tribes and steal their technology, or make alliances with the neighboring tribes so they share their technology with you. (All while hunting or fishing local game to ensure food for your tribe and creating a steady amount of young which is limited as you progress) Whatever the case, this level proved to be very interesting and quite helpful to prepare me for the next level.
Whether you are good or evil, it really starts to show it’s presence here. Forge alliances, or conquer enemy cities. The entire world is up for grabs in this intense level of real-time action. My favorite part of this level is the customization of your city, and your vehicles. Now, like I mentioned earlier I went pure carnivore, so naturally my buildings looked like they were going to eat you alive. But the amount you can do is incredible, from Victorian or Old English architecture, to something that looks like it came straight from your favorite fantasy novel. Old-school or high-tech, towering buildings or quaint dwellings, the world is your oyster with your city being that precious pearl. The vehicles I found interesting because design really matters.(not that it didn’t in the rest of the game) I went authoritative for my conquering little race of people and my vehicles had police lights which I found to be an interesting touch, while mounted with enough firepower to blow up a city – which I did. You can customize cars, boats, airplanes and finally spacecrafts before venturing on to the final frontier – Space.
Just when you thought you were getting comfortable with the style of play, it changes a bit on you again. Not to worry, the begining part of this stage allows you to get comfortable. This stage allows you to customize your spaceships even further, and travel the galaxy searching for other lifeforms to dominate or make your allies. The goal of this stage is to reach the center of the galaxy and finally progress to being an ultimate being. This is by far the longest stage in the game, encompassing about as much time if not more than the other 4 combined. The game is fantastic but I won’t spoil any endings for you. For my last bit, I will share a list of pros and cons I encountered during the game and some links where you can find more information on Spore.
- Easy-to-use interface
- Immense customization options
- Runs seamlessly even on some lower end PC’s
- Good replayability (Herbivore -> Good, Omnivore -> Neutral, Carnivore -> Evil)
- Movement during Cell -> Creature stage feels realistic
- Ability to start new creatures at whatever stage you want (After 1st go-around)
- I cannot stress enough : Customize Customize Customize!
- At times camera can be difficult to control, esp. during Creature/Tribal stage
- Game feels like it was “dumbed” down to appeal to a wider audience yet sacrificing in the ideal potential of the theme
- Selection for buildings could have been more diverse in Civilization stage
- Gameplay seems geared towards age 8 – 16 gap, with simple controls and large interfaces.
- Gives hint of previously-evolved creatures at Creature stage, but no actual interaction – something I would’ve found interesting. (For example, an occasional UFO during Creature stage)
- Weapons during Space Stage have no noticeable effect on ship. (I added 13 guns for nothing. :[ )
- I felt like there could have been a stage between Tribal and Civilization (Come on – from stone axes to heavy hitting assault cruisers?)
All in all, game was fun. If it feels lacking or empty now, it is only because the developers left plenty of room for expansion. Multi-player anyone? This would atleast give the game some more credibility, nothing would be cooler than owning my own planet while sending crafts to take over Jimmy’s next door. Besides, with a galaxy to work with, who’s to say theres not enough planets?
Spore Official Site: http://www.spore.com/