Spore. From the makers of The Sims, a game with endless ambition, announced years ago and evolved from a visionary concept to a mainstream game, accessible for everything and everyone. And that duality, combined with the extremely fast pace in which the gaming industry, and accompanying games and possibilities, has progressed have made that Spore isn’t the revolution we’ve hoped for.
Let’s call a cow a cow. Spore’s Creature Creator is without a doubt fantastic! Maybe the most fun part of the game and you can be busy for hours with it. Anyone with some level of creativity in himself (and aren’t we all in this age of Youtube) will in no time be able to make funny, crazy or real-looking beings. Ingenious is also that the resulting animations alwas feel real and hardly ever turn out wrong.
It’s unfortunate though, that next to the possibility to directly upload movies of your beings to Youtube, the only real community tools are those from SporePedia and the random appearing of other people’s creatures into your game. It does work the other way around as well. You can constantly adapt your creations which will then be uploaded to the global database so they can appear in someone else’s playing session.
The latter is of course very amusing, you’re constantly curious what’s the next thing you’ll discover and in the end that’s what the game’s all about. You’ll never feel part of a larger community though which is a bit disappointing with things like LittleBigPlanet just around the corner and so many other games with possibilities for co-op or working together. Not that Spore promised more, but the concept could no doubt be worked out more interestingly.
Concerning the gameplay unfortunately the same feeling remains. As you probably know by now there are five phases in the game. In Cell you need to navigate a simple brew while you choose to eat meat, vegetables or both. That choice decides on your future menu: herbi-, carni- or omnivore. During Creature you crawl onto the mainland and do pretty much the exact same thing: hunt or pluck your food. Meanwhile you personalise your being with found pieces of body. In the Tribal phase you get a lot of tools (like weapons) and powers, and you can control more beings and start conquering the way you choose. The almost last phase, Civilization, places you in a very simple RTS with the well-known basic elements. Fun here is that you can design your own buildings and give them a look&feel.
The above mentioned parts are well done, don’t take longer than necessary but in the end are only foreplay to the last phase: Space. That part is a lot deeper and you’ll need to discover, explore, conquer, defend, populate and terraform a ton of planets to expand your empire and map the universe. Trading, going to war and convince other people, there’s a lot to do in the final part of Spore. Think Star Control and Alpha Centauri and you know what to expect. The biggest criticism is that the player has to occupy himself a lot with repetitive tasks and maintenance that decrease the fun from the universe that consists out of 50.000 planets.
The graphics and music are very colorful, scalable for any type of pc and will provide a pleasing environment for both casual and hardcore gamers to start creating alone or with the kids and family.
Spore has to be bought for the accessible but powerful Creators, the SporePedia and everything surrounding that. The game itself, and the accompanying gameplay, seem more to be an extensive framework for this innovation; letting you create the beings and have other gamers show theirs. Nothing wrong with that, but a Sims, Civilization or deep playing experience is something else. It’s Fun and relaxing though!