Spore

Announced over three years ago, Spore was touted to be the final evolution of the “god game”.
Guest Reviewers - Staff Reviewer

Content at a glance:

GAME TECH INFO

Computer Platform: PC (Windows)
Produced by: Electronic Arts
Price Range: $41-50
Learning curve time: 31-60 min.
Age level: All Ages
ESRB Rating: E10 (Everyone 10 & up)

Reviewed By: Sean Domis
VOLUNTEER GUEST REVIEWER

Overall Rating: ★★★★½
Genre: Simulation
Christian Rating: 3 of 5 (average)
Gameplay: 5 of 5 (excellent)
Violence: 3 of 5 (mild)
Adult Content: 5 of 5 (none)


Spore


Where does one begin with a little game called Spore? Announced over three years ago, Spore was touted to be the final evolution of the “god game”. Many screenshots and videos later, the gaming world can finally sit down and play the magnum opus of “the Sims” creator Will Wright, but was it worth the wait?

All of Mr. Wright’s games have been about controlling and playing with life in differing degrees. In SimCity you controlled an entire populace of tiny specks; in the Sims you controlled a single avatar’s life; now in Spore, you can raise an entire species from a tiny microbe to a space-faring empire.

Cell Stage: In the beginning of the game you start as either a herbivorous or carnivorous single-celled organism and have to swim around in the primordial ooze, eating plant matter or meat and dying a lot. The Cell stage is rather cute and cuddly, even as you are skewering rival cells with your pokey bits. This stage is made to resemble old-school 2-D games such as Pac-Man or Dig Dug.

Spore

Creature Stage: Once you’ve scarfed enough grub, you slap a couple of legs onto your monstrosity and venture onto land. Once again, it’s eat or be eaten, befriend or annihilate in a vast and alien landscape. Your reward is new body parts and DNA points to spend on upgrading your creature each time it mates (a simple dance and some cute “Hey there..” posing, nothing XXX rated here). Every so often, your brain will grow larger which allows you to add another member to your pack. Once you’re smart enough to discover fire, you can move onto the Tribal phase. The transition is a humorous send-up of “2001: A Space Odyssey”.

Tribal Stage: Now that you’ve grown intelligent enough to handle tools, you can use them to conquer or befriend rival tribes with weapons and music respectively. You also get to design clothing for your creature, as well as assign different tasks to each one under your control, be it Farmer or Axeler or a Didgeredooer. As you conquer or befriend other tribes you gain a new head for your totem pole and any technology they possess that you do not. Once you’ve beaten or befriended enough tribes, you move on to the Civilization stage.

Spore

Civilization Stage: A simplified version of other RTS games like Rise of Nations or the Dawn of War series, the Civilization phase brings you into contest with other cities of your species that have popped up around your planet. Conquer, convert, or buy them outright using Spice, your currency for this stage. After you control 4 or more cities, your race conquers the skies and you can build airplanes/dirigibles. As soon as every city dances to the beat of your drum, you conquer Space as well, moving on to the Space Stage.

Space Stage: The end of it all, the true sandbox mode, and the biggest headache in all of Spore is the Space mode. Here you’ll make alliances, trade spice, establish trade routes, create colonies, terraform planets, conquer the weak and befriend the strong. You can do whatever you want to do, however you want to do it. The game offers you a few missions to get you used to each different way of getting ahead and then tosses you into the galactic waters to see if you sink or swim. There is an overall goal of getting to the center of the Galaxy, but most of the time you’ll be babysitting your colonies and allies. Thankfully a patch has been released that cuts down the ‘everything-coming-at-me-at-once’-ness that defined the Space stage, but it still would be nice if the stage was as Sandbox-y as Mr. Wright promised.

Spore

That is the major problem with Spore: it’s just not as good as Will Wright led us to believe. We expected a transcendental life simulator and what we got was a cutesy, made-for-everyone game that is just four other games combined,(Pac-Man, Oblivion, Civilization, Sins of a Solar Empire) watered down, and made easy for the masses.

The editors found in the game are a different story. Thankfully, they deliver on their intended promises. Half of the hype over Spore was that almost all the content would be made by the player; from the creature you create to the vehicles it drives and the houses it lives in. The massive Sporepedia (with millions and millions of entries) allows you to see what and how things have been made by other players. Called a massively-multiplayer single-player game by Mr. Wright, you do get a feeling of community when you see your galaxy populated by other people’s creations.

Spore’s premise is on that of Exogenesis Evolution, i.e. life existed inside a meteor or a comet and, when the carrier collided with a planet, was released and slowly achieved sentience. Evolutionary dogma in Spore is presented in a way that would make Darwin pitch a fit, so it’s nothing for us to get worried over. It’s almost as comical and over-the-top as Pokemon and their “evolution”- mystical transformations that have nothing to do with Darwin’s theory.

If you can lower your expectations and go into Spore with an open mind, you’ll find a fun game with all the charm and humor we’ve come to expect from Will Wright.

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Year of Release — 2008

[tags] 4.5 stars, Simulation, PC (Windows), E10 (Everyone 10 & up), Electronic Arts [/tags]

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Eden Communications or the Christian Answers Network.

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