A disclaimer, of sorts
Unless you have stumbled across this review completely by accident, most of you have already known that one of the most highly anticipated and ambitious games of the year, Spore, was released about a week ago. Since then, Spore has received a fair mix of both praise and hostile criticism from the gaming community. Today, we will cut past all of the commercial hype and DRM sensationalism and get straight to what matters about any game: its contents, gameplay and whether it actually is a fun and entertaining title. The DRM issue will not be taken into consideration for this review as readers should make up their own mind about how they feel it. Unless it breaks gameplay, DRM issues should ever have any bearing or influence over the outcome of a review.
Bridging the gap
The very concept of Spore makes it a unique and ambitious title: it was designed to allow the player to create, control, and develop every aspect of their character and take it through multiple stages of gameplay representing the different steps of the evolution of life. You start as a single celled organism swimming around the Primordial puddle of goo and develop body, mind and technology to eventually go to the stars. This is accomplished by advancing the player and his creation through five different stages of life, each with its own taste, goals, and play styles.
Spore turns out to be more of a Jack of all Trades title, lightly skimming the surface of the different gaming aspects of arcade, adventure, RTS and Civilization style game genres. With Spore spreading itself out over so many different gameplay styles, one shouldn’t expect for Spore to be as detailed, in depth and as flexible as a normal, dedicated titles to a specific genre. Spore may very well have Civilization style qualities towards the later stages, but a full blown Civilization 4, its not.
The evolution of creation
In the beginning, there was goo. In this goo, was a cast of single celled organisms struggling for survival. One of these organisms is you, the player. From the very start, you are asked a question which sets your Spore down a specific road, do you wish to be an Herbivore or Carnivore? An important question since it will govern your goals in the coming stage. Once you are let loose into the world, you are moving non-stop in the search for food while trying not to become food for something larger than you are.
This first stage of the game is simple to understand and enjoyable on a fundamental level. It has been described by some as a Primordial Pac-Man. Our goal is simply eat enough to earn DNA points in order to grow and spawn. Spawning will allow you to spend those DNA points on newly discovered body parts that you may have unlocked during your time in the game. These parts aren’t just for show, they will help your little Sporeling survive into the coming levels of the Primordial Puddle. Eventually, as you complete objectives and much on your food of choice, you will have fully evolved for that stage and granted the right to crawl out of the soup and into the sand as you attach your first set of legs and swim to shore.
By tooth, fang, and dancing?
The Creature stage can easily be one of the more enjoyable sages of the game. With dozens of body part upgrades to find through exploration and combat, for the first time the player gets to really start turning their creation into something uniquely their own. It plays somewhat like an action adventure game where you control one of your created species. The goals of this stage tend to revolve around the interaction with other creatures already inhabiting the land. Regardless of the previous choice of being Herbivore or carnivore, you may either attempt to befriend the inhabitants by using social skills, such as song and dance or eliminate them through the use of tooth and claw.
No Pros and Cons at this time