Spore – Reviewed – PC

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By Philip Dunkley

It may seem that I am revisiting a realm of PC gaming that I have long since abandoned lately, but when a game like Spore is released; any gamer would be ignorant to not at least take a look. Now the reason I don’t play to many PC games anymore is purely because I run a Mac, and with limited supply of games in the country, I have cut back significantly. My surprise however was that this game comes packaged supporting both formats, which I like, so I thought why not, it should be fun.

Now I know that the Sims was a huge hit for EA, and with the popularity of this title, although never a fan, it was interesting to see how this would turn out.

Maxis were always known for their Sim based games, and every title had something to do with a specific genre, like SimCity focusing on city, and The Sims focusing on people. What no one really expected, was to eventually get to creation in a box, and this is exactly what EA have pulled out of the bag here, and to imagine what this game is really like, would mean one would have play it.

It started a few months ago with the release of the Creature Creator from EA, and by no means is this all that there is to Spore, it gives the player a good idea of the endless possibilities of creation. One only has to take a look on the Web, and you will see how many creations have been registered. Look into the Sporepedia, the online Database within the game, and you’ll get a pretty cool idea of what’s on offer.

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Here’s how the game plays out.

You will start off as a single celled creature, and will have to control your creation around an ocean, feeding on various things, be it meat for Carnivores and Green algae for Herbivores. As you grow bigger from all the eating, various new parts become available for you to add to your creature, making you faster and stronger. If you’ve ever played the game Flow, you have a pretty good idea of how this pans out. As you get bigger though, you will need to attract a mate, and create new hybrid creatures, and as you grow, so does the enemy, and this makes your creature more susceptible to attacks. But it’s not that difficult, and it does not offer that much depth, a theme that rears its head throughout the game.

After the initial stage, you will move to the Creature stage, and this is where your creatures start to take shape and character. Basically, it revolves around initially creating a land dwelling creature, and moving him/her around an environment to meet with other random creatures. This is enhanced if you are online at the time, as it adds the feature of using other player-generated creatures. You can then choose to either be friendly to other creatures on the world, or to attack them. Either way you will collect new parts once again, and evolve your character. As you progress through this, you will have other creatures join you in your quest for domination. It’s also loads of fun, but can get a bit tiresome at points.

You then move on to the Tribal stage, and this is where you get the opportunity to control tribes of creatures, and attack other tribes to gain evolution. It plays out like an RTS, but once again in a very simplified manner. It’s a basic version of conquer and expand, but still using the creatures you have created. It a fun section, but it still does not get to the point of great depth.

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You then move on to the Civilization stage of the game, and this is where you move into society-based control, keeping your residents happy and taking over wherever you can, either using force, religion or financial means. You will also be able to create structures and vehicles, all using the creator tool, once again with a huge amount of control. To me this was a great part of the game, one that I enjoyed.

The final stage of the game is the space section, where you create a cool space ship and head off into the galaxy, visiting worlds and heading of on various forms of missions, all in the name of galactic supremacy.

Now after reading all of that, it would seem that this game is a complex web of strategy, requiring a great deal of patience and a game plan that would make ex elite players cringe at the thought. But the complexity is not there, not at all really. It’s just a collection of games, simplified and combined, to create a game that won’t test you to the limits, but will entertain you.

The graphics in the game are good, not amazing, but the animations are what’s going to get you. The creatures are really cool, and the vibrant colors and textures will please most that play the game. The unlimited amount of creativity you get with the creator tools really impressed me, and the creatures created were simply awesome.

The sound is also pretty good, with creature sounds ranging from really cute to totally whacky, and the environmental sounds doing a good job. Don’t expect any blow your mind away surround mixes, but it’s not really that kind of game now is it.

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There is no doubt that the game has an appeal and entertainment value, but my question is for how long, and how long is it going to take before the expansion packs arrive. I enjoyed this game, but not enough to go down as legendary or anything. If you are into this type of genre, you should get more than enough entertainment, and the simplicity, for lack of a better word will appeal to many. The creator tools should keep you busy for hours though.

Gameplay: 8/10 [Interesting enough, varied gameplay]

Presentation: 8/10 [Not the greatest, but still good]

Sound: 7/10 [Some interesting sounds, generally good]

Value: 8/10 [It will keep you busy for a while]

Overall: 7.8/10 [A Solid effort, just missing that extra depth]

Last Updated: September 30, 2008

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