#873 Spore

Posted: 3rd April 2019 by Jeroen in Games
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773rd played so far

Genre: Life Simulation/Strategy
Platform: PC
Year of Release: 2008
Developer: Maxis
Publisher: Electronic Arts

It sounds like a Molyneux-like pitch, a game where you start off as a bacteria-like organism, evolve and grow a civilization until you reach space. It was, however, proposed by the other sim genre great, Will Wright from SimCity fame, and other games like it.

It’s a promise nothing can keep up with, but I’m still looking forward to trying it and seeing how it pulls it off – after all, it hits all of my buttons, and at the time the buzz was big enough.

Our Thoughts

The best way to look at Spore is that we’re playing five separate mini games that link to each other. You start with the cellular stage, a version of flOw where you eat creatures, gather their DNA and create your basic creature – including deciding whether you become a vegetarian or carnivore. You take that basic form with you to the next stage, the creature stage, where you ally or defeat other species and set up your own tribe that way. It’s a stage that takes a while, because the power curve isn’t that smooth – I certainly had an hour or two of struggling more than we’d need.

The tribal stage that follows is even more annoying – you have to bribe or conquer other tribes – but the bribe option was easy enough that it felt a bit exploitable. It was a road bump, again, with the fourth stage feeling more interesting. At that point, you enter the Civilization stage, as your tribe is more established, which is a far simpler version of the namesake. You set up cities and start mining funds as you take over others one city at a time. You can do it through military, religion or trade, the former two acting something similarly with some different units and the last mostly requiring a lot of gold investment. It’s decently fun and while at times clunky it was probably my favourite of the phases.

The final stage, into space, broke on my game… and I couldn’t really be bothered to replay the amount I’d need to. From what did work, there’s a large chunk of game here still, with a lot of upgrades and technologies, a decent trade system and more to explore. It’s expansive, but it sounds like there’s not necessarily much of an end to that either.

The nice thing about this is the continuity – your creatures get taken along between the stages and each bit of design you do carries over to the next stage. This lets you make not just your own unique creatures, which is cool enough, but also clothing designs, buildings, vehicles and so on. It’s nice to give it a particular style and even without too much work gives you something that looks decent. Obviously, modders took this much further, but even the base game gives you loads of options.

Final Thoughts

How do I judge this? The individual minigames are from meh to decent. The creature customization is pretty engaging and, in my case, can lead to some horrifying results, and the way it carries over between these is quite nice. It means the sum is better than its parts and Spore is still enjoyable, just perhaps not as much as the promise initially implied.

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