Spore

a game by Maxis Software
Genres: Action, Simulation
Platform: PC
Editor Rating: 8.8/10, based on 3 reviews, 4 reviews are shown
User Rating: 9.3/10 - 8 votes
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See also: Spore Series
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Recently released on the internet - and present on this month's cover DVD - the Spore Creature Creator has turned out to be far more intriguing than we ever expected it would.

Just how engaging this utility is has been well commented upon before, with you dragging and dropping mouths, claws, horns, feelers and the like onto the body of your chosen beast You can put them anywhere, moulding the creature in an amazing number of ways, while you marvel at just how easy it is to drag out its original silly putty sausage body to your every whim.

What isn't so obvious though is how early the program puts life into your creation. There's no waiting for lightning to strike or an idle Igor to pat on the head. Put a mouth on and the halfformed creature will cough like a newborn or try an experimental whinny, put legs on it and it'll give them a stretch and smile in discovery. Just playing around with this toolset gives you a deep awareness of the countless hours that must have been ploughed into it to make it so simple, so intuitive and so damn slick.

About three-quarters of the appendages and body parts are locked off until you buy the full Creature 'Creator, but you still have the ability to store your creations in your personal page in EA's Sporepedia. Here you can also check out the million-plus monsters made by other Spore fans.

After the creation process itself there isn't a huge amount to do apart from making your beast dance around, mess about with the colouring or check out what its kids look like - but even this is infused with cutesy magic. When you've got three child-creatures on screen and you order the family to dance, sometimes one toddler turns out to be the thick one - it realises that his kin are halfway through a jig and then joins in out of time.

With a million creations already strutting online as we go to press, any fears that Spore was a bit too 'out there' for your average PC user have been quashed. Spore is going to make an unearthly amount of moolah.

Download Spore

PC

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Game Reviews

Without Actually Being in front of it and taking time to see what yon can do, Spore is hard to appreciate and understand. On paper, the idea sounds like a pipe-dream that could never become a game - and that's why it's all the more weird to play. When you see how much work has gone into the creature creation, from evolution from primal sludge to interplanetary colonist, you see that Maxis have created a game that is plain special. You can choose to go from the very beginning in the Tide Pool, or jump into space instantly, creating a race and heading to the cosmos. Spore is your sandbox, with enough buckets and spades to keep you very, very busy.

Primordial Whoop

In the Tide Pool Phase you start as your first creation, eating things and growing, adding dangerous body parts to your creature as you go. This phase is similar to Feeding Frenzy, but a lot prettier, with crab-like creatures chasing you down as you eat your way towards evolution across a watery, 2D expanse. In all honesty, this is somewhat peripheral and feels like a mini-game. Tilings soon change when you enter the Creature Phase, as you face the true creation editor, with the emphasis on making something that will survive in a 3D world brimming with life.

You're able to make creatures with four pairs of legs, three arms, gigantic snouts, gnashers like a crocodile, and even a big bum with antlers on it.

A series of mathematical equations judges the construction of each creature and how they'll walk, so each has a distinct strut or scuttle. Or, in the case of the monstrosity that was my first creation, a distinct hobble, with its four jaws (including two on its knees) clicking and clacking with each pained moment of life.

Ah, Real Monsters

The good news for my beleaguered Tarchnad,' was that you're able to edit your life-forms at any time. Once edited, mine confidently strode around the world, in an RPG-esque manner, befriending the occasional creature but mostly seeking to eat and destroy anything in his path.

Progression as a carnivorous (destructive) or herbivorous (friendly) entity depends on the creature's physical characteristics. Enemies have resistances and weaknesses, such as poisons, which various body parts can counter. Impressing other creatures is also based around this parts system. One puny monster walked up to me and sang a little tune, and Spore's UI insisted I attempt to impress him by singing back. Sadly, I had no mouth, so instead I decided that the only song he was going to hear was the melody of my claws squeezing the life from his fluffy little arse.

If you want, you can be a herbivore, gaining friends and avoiding predators, but everyone makes babies. From this dirtiness conies the chance to evolve, adding body parts to grow towards the point of sentience, where yon gain the ability to create things. There's a real feeling of life, with each race you create, and possibly make extinct, feeling utterly new and original.

So far the gameplay is somewhat simplistic, but the sheer scale of the world and the number of creations within its gorgeous vistas make up for this. And once you evolve, there's plenty more to do.

Tribal Warfare

The Tribal Phase, which is a bit like The Settlers, sees you building settlements, making enemies or friends with other tribes and collecting the main source of income (meat) by slaying local wildlife, and (somewhat disgustingly) from other creatures' corpses. You cease to control a single creature, instead taking control of an entire group to slowly mate and crawl towards a civilisation of, in my case, Bumantlers: crocodile-ducks with antlers coming out of their rear-ends.

The interface feels like a classical RTS, as yon create farmers to farm, diplomats to talk to other tribes, fires so that your Bumantlers can dance, and of course, spear-makers to make war with. Eventually, my Bumantlers became so numerous that they founded their own city, and Bumtropolis was born. At this point, the game ceases being about other creatures and their relationship with you, and starts being about your creation and its colonisation of the planet.

The Civilization Phase is like Sim City, with a bit of RTS when you're at war. You advance by taking over the planet through diplomatic, religious or military activities.

The religious aspects aren't yet in place, but we're told they'll allow you to indoctrinate other cities (using gigantic holograms, religious dances and the like), with the eventual winner gaining control of the entire populace.

In diplomatic mode, you can visit other cities and make peace with them, sharing resources and giving them gifts, CIV-style. The military aspects meanwhile are fantastically creative, allowing you to design your own war machines.

There are no premade units, with your creativity limited only by your stocks of Spice, the phase's currency.

Space Traders

When the planet is under your control, you can go into space - and, again, the spaceship is yours to create.

There are hundreds of thousands of randomly generated planets you can fly to, scanning and capturing life, and eventually creating your own colonies. You'll run into life ranging from simple creatures to fully-fledged civilisations, which you can once again either attack or befriend - gaining technology in the process. You can also create life on other worlds by planting trees and making the environment more hospitable, eventually terraforming them. Each world has a different combination of life, temperature, terrain and so on, and won't be a just-add-water civilisation-solution.

While the possibilities are clearly endless, we're assured that it will become possible at some point to finish' the game. Your eventual goal is yet to be revealed, but Maxis promise a full story arc with a definite beginning and end.

Creationism

Spore is not a hardcore game. At the same time, it's not really a casual game - you'll have to take time to do things, otherwise the game's value will be lost. That's not to say you can't speed through the phases if you want to, rather that there's a charm to the beautiful experimentation, and the sheer range of options is staggering. The result is that you feel a real sense of ownership of your creation - that's your little thing running around, not Murloc X or Mud Crab Y.

This is a step beyond The Sims' fake humanity. When you create buildings in the latter phases, they can be customised in thousands of ways, and using Maxis' Pollination technology, you can go online and receive a stream of new creatures, ships and themes into your universe.

Ultimately, Maxis plan to have a MySpace-style website that allows you to create 'Sporecasts' of particular groups of ships, housing, creatures or any other creations. A great example is the Alphabet Creatures - a selection of strange-looking monsters shaped like letters that's being shared across the internal Spore network as we speak. These As, Bs and Cs move distinctly, dance, squeak, and very much have their own 'life', and are editable once downloaded - each one is stored as a few kilobytes of data, as what you download is essentially their DNA: a code for Spore to manipulate. Pollination expands this further, in that it downloads creatures, vehicles, and other sets to populate your world with, making Spore what Maxis refers to as a 'massively single-player game? as your content is made up of other players' content mingling with yours to create a unique experience every time you play. An example is that in Creature mode, your world is made up of your species and others that you must make extinct to evolve - these, through Pollination, will be made up of downloaded content, changing each time you start a new creature.

All of this can start to sound like PR puff, and yet the freedom to create puts Spore in a genre unto itself, a sandbox universe that you can get lost in. The social networking features are more than a mere aping MySpace and allow you to interface with other users' content - we've actually seen it running, and it's real. Maxis have even hinted that you'll be able to export videos of your units directly to YouTube, and 3D models to the animation package Maya. The networking features are both in and out of the game, with a website giving you access to your Sporepedia, but your in-game version is more robust and allows downloading of creations and Sporecasts.

As Spore stands, it's unbelievably beautiful and mesmerising. Will Wright and Maxis may very well have created something with the mass-appeal of the original Sims, with elements to draw in tougher-edged gamers in the Civilization and Space Age modes - though their complexity does remain to be seen. Can the Tribal, Civilization and Space Phases really feel as robust and intricate as their equivalents in other genres? We'll let you know. For now, the excitement is electrifying, the possibilities endless, and our interest way beyond piqued.

When Spore was first released it was a huge deal and even after a decade, the game has a very dedicated player base. What I really do love about Spore is that it is the kind of game that is really impossible to just pigeonhole into one style of game. You could say that it is part god game, part sim game, part RPG and more all rolled up into one creature filled package! Spore is a game that is played in stages so let’s look at all the stages.

It Begins With A Cell

The cell stage is a great part of the game and one that is very easy to get into and does not last to long. You start as a simple cell and you need to fight off other cells so you can get food and get the parts you need to make sure that you are ready to grow. This is the shortest part of the game by far.

Little Critters

One thing we all know and love about Spore is the creatures! When you eventually evolve into a little creature, I found that the game takes on a kind of RPG feel. The goal here is to keep moving forward and evolve and become a real key in the world. You can make buddies with other creatures or you can fight them to show dominance. You even need to mate which is fun. You want to evolve your DNA enough to move onto the next stage, but you do not have to do this right away if you do not want to. Which I actually advise you do as this part of the game is a lot of fun and the most “game-like” of the whole game.

Wait Now It Is An RTS Game?

Next up you will enter the tribe stage of the game. Here you can have as many as 12 fellow creatures as part of your tribe. You need to survive and also conquer the other tribes and take over the world basically. There are plenty of weapons and there are also these larger and more epic creatures that you can encounter too. I think that an RTS game is the best way to think of this section of the game and it is a lot of fun from fighting to getting food!

Let Your Creatures Grow Beyond Your Planet!

Next up you can now start to move along in a more technologically advanced way. You can now use vehicles and so on. It is quite fun and destroying other cities just because you can and you want to show your dominance is a lot of fun. Even more fun is that after this you can go into space and start dealing with other planets! It is up to you if you want to befriend these aliens or if you want to destroy them so you can be the supreme force in the galaxy!

I think that Spore is a really fun game. It holds up very well and for the time it was one of the most ambitious video games ever made. I know that some people were turned off by this because of the insane amount of hype that was behind it. Still, this has been a game I have always enjoyed and I would love to see a sequel to it at some point.

8.5/10

Pros:

  • The game has a lot of charm
  • The different eras you play through each feel different
  • It has RPG elements, RTS gameplay and loads of variety in general
  • The game was very ambitious for its time
  • It is easy to get into and eases you in very well

Cons:

  • The game can be hard to get running well on modern computers
  • Not much of a story to hook you

Spore was highly anticipated before its launch and it did not disappoint a bit on its arrival. The magic in the simulator is to allow you to create a powerful and smart creature that will conquer the world from an organism of one cell. The evolution of a powerless cell to a powerful being is the main illusion of this game that attracts wide range of players across the world.

Design

Some people compare this game to Creature Creator but that it is only a fraction of the experience in Spore. Of course, creation tools attribute to popularity and fun of this game. However, the features here are enhanced for more reality. The early stages in the game allow you to create town halls, aircraft, and land vehicles that expose you to a world of propaganda. Religion is also mixed up in the creation process.

Beauty of the creations is dependent on your creative art skills. Depending on your expertise level, you have access to wings, mouth, legs, and arms among other parts of the body and different colors and texture to suit your creation. The goal is to produce a unique, pretty, and powerful being.

Creation tools

The tools can be used to create cartoons or original concepts of people. You are free to twist, resize and turn the structure of your creation to fit your preferences for the game. While you don’t have to emulate a powerful or beautiful character in existence, random choosing of parts may be unattractive. Of course, all the parts are beautiful and matching but you have to be considerate in choice of colors and shapes to come up with a sensible character. You need a beautiful beast to conquer the world.

Spore is about creativity. The tools are provided for you to deploy at appropriate times. If you have a liking for art and design, you have a lot to explore with the creation tools. However, the developers have also included complete designs to accommodate players without artistic skills. You can easily apply the designs on your creation tab to come up with a desired beast. Nevertheless, building with the vehicle tools is the most interesting way of playing Spores.

Besides, you are allowed to use other players’ creations and tools as inspiration for your creation. Actually, it is fun to check through previous players creations. It triggers many ideas on how to come up with an effective creation that guarantees you a win.

Gameplay

The first few hours of gameplay introduces you to an ogre with three arms. Be sure to make the ogre your friend because it might be the only creature on your screen at the beginning. Learn how the scales help the ogre roll up on the floor. Most players develop an affection with the hideous creature.

Spore can be accessed through Sporepedia, an online database that forms a community of players for sharing of ideas on beautiful creations. The platform is user-friendly; it increases your interaction level with other players worldwide hence ultimate game experience.

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