Spore – PC review

So you’re the creator of The Sims. Your games are selling by the truck load, but still you can’t help shaking that feeling that you wanted to do more. You didn’t want to just allow gamers to shape a human avatar. You wanted to give them true god like status.

And so Spore came to fruition. Aiming to take in the life of your created species, from tiny single celled organism, through to space hopping behemoths, ambition is certainly the word to attach to this one.

With so much to do and shape, there’s even more to go wrong. But with a man like Will Wright at the helm, could this one have been anything other than a classic?

It’s a hell of a cliché, but each of the five different modes of gameplay in Spore could quite easily be sold all on its own.

The first Cell Stage proves to be a fantastic opening. A 2D overhead viewpoint is all you get of your tiny little organism. What follows is a game similar in style to PlayStation Network title, fl0w, as you guide your little creation around this pool full of fledgling life.

Depending on whether you’re heading down the carnivorous or herbivore route, you’ll be looking to scoff either red of green blobs. Urging your creation to swim through the water with a few handy mouse clicks, avoiding enemies, and obtaining DNA in order to grow and evolve your cell.

Evolving happens incredibly regularly at this early stage. You’ll soon start to become attached to your fledgling species as you attach eyes, fins, and various other body parts in order to give them the best chance of life. You can even give them a paint job if the mood takes you, with tonnes of options to tweak.

After a short while of this simplistic, but still thoroughly addictive stage, your cell is ready to head onto dry land. A pair of legs sprout from the rear of your creation’s body, and you’re ready for the Creature Stage.

This time its true 3D as you play in a World of Warcraft-esque game. Now your creature will start to take real shape, and you’ll start to learn some essential skills.

You start to come across other species and be able to truly interact with them. Using your DNA points at your nest (gained via various forms of interaction with other species and the landscape) – after a swift mating call to give life to an egg containing the next evolutionary step – you can equip your species with all kinds of body parts.

You’ll be able to be exactly what you want, and either befriend or slaughter all the species you come across. The former involves copying the actions of the species you wish to evolve a relationship with via a simple menus system. The latter forcing you to select moves and actions to knock their health points down to zero.

Now when you’re evolving you’ll start to notice more complex and powerful abilities appearing in your selection. Soon you’ll be in charge of an intelligent being and ready to discover fire. Sadly the number of hours it takes to reach this stage can start to drag a little too highly skyward. While shaping your creature is fantastic fun, rapidly clicking on other creatures can become a little tiresome.

Next comes the Tribe Stage which involves being in charge of a number of beings rather than merely one. You’ll defend your village, gather food, and attempt to build up your tribe to be the most powerful one on the planet.

The Civilization Stage plays much like the game it has stolen its name from, albeit in a more simplistic manner lacking the real micromanagement. Safe to say that by this stage things are getting a little more complex, and building relationships and your civilization to the point of being ready to head into space is a real test for the old grey matter.

Once you’re out in space things are starting to get incredibly complex. There are worlds to explore, species to interact with, and masses of military and trading options to choose from. This last stage certainly isn’t one you’ll breeze through in a matter of a half hour like the first.

So it’s pretty obvious that Spore is packed with possibilities. There’s just so much packed in there that it’s impossible to even attempt to give a basic run down of all without spewing reams of dialogue.

The online functionality is a major bonus. Play while online and other gamers’ creatures can become a part of your world, and vice-versa. Whether you only allow your friends to share, or open it up to the entire world, it’s incredible to see the huge number of design possibilities available. When you’ve seen a space ship blasting off into space that looks exactly like a teddy bear in a cardboard box, then you can say you’ve seen it all.

Verdict

But with so much here, it is unsurprising that there are a few flaws. The graphics, while a long way from poor, don’t hit the heights that we could have hoped for. Some weird designs will break the game’s animation system too, giving your creations a horribly jilted feel. And crashes are being reported by a large number of users, and with no auto save system, you need to make sure you keep regularly saving your game.

It might have a fair few flaws, and at least one of the five different variations of play will turn dull long before you get the chance to evolve. But Spore has that certain magical something that keeps you gripped. If you’re ready for a game to steal your life, then give Spore a try.