Spore, one of the greatest and most ambitious ideas in videogame history. But does it work? In short yes, however it may not be all what the demos given by Will Wright (the visionary behind spore and other games like The Sims and Sim City) portrayed it to be.
For those of you who don’t know, Spore is essentially a mash up of many game types, with the basis being evolution of a species, your species. Yes that’s right, you start the game as a singular cell in a 2D world. This stage is similar to Pac Man but with no boundaries, just fluid dynamics to guide you. As you eat more and collect body parts you are able to “evolve” your creature to the next level by adding new parts or rearranging old ones. Everything is procedurally generated on the fly, and at some point you will have control over everything, the plants, trees, rocks, water, music, creatures, colour of the planet and even its shape. Also added to this is the massively single player experience where other peoples creatures and buildings are added to your game depending on how you play and how you design your creature. This means that there is always stuff that can kill you along with stuff you can kill.
Eventually you progress onto land and into a 3D environment, where your main objective is to ally or defeat other nests of creatures, this is done through a rather simplistic button bash style game and is one of the main areas where spore fails to deliver on its vision. This leads onto a 3rd tribal stage which is the same but in a grander scale with instruments and weapons coming in to play. After this you progress onto the penultimate stage, the civ stage.
The civ and space stages are mostly the same, just on a different level of control, the civ stage allows you to do most things but the space stage allows you to do almost anything you like. This is the most accurately depicted stage of spore, you take control of a single space ship and fly round the 50,000 star systems in the galaxy, that’s endless hours of fun, with tools such as the genesis device and tractor beam.
It promised to be the most open ended game ever created and to a large extent it is, but in many ways its so simple (easy to get from cell to space in less than 4 hours) which lets it down. Although Will has now said that this was intentional as to persuade casual gamers it seems die hard fans of his work will be disappointed. It is more open ended than The Sims or Sim City but some how seems more of a tech demo or proof of concept rather than a game.
In conclusion it is a great concept and fun to play with, but far too simple to impress the hard core gamer.
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