Will Wright has given us games that we play over and over again for some sick reason I believe. The Sims for example, a game where you play god, controlling people’s lives, shaping their destiny and making them woohoo (alam niyo na yun), I’ve played the game countless times. Now Mr. Wright gives us a game where we can shape the evolution of an entire species and control the destiny of the galaxy!
Spore is the game’s name and even named after a part of the reproductive processes of small plants and bacteria, there’s nothing small about its intentions. I can sum up the goal of the game in one word, GRAND. You literally control the evolution of a species of your own creation and guide them to the stars.
The game begins with you designing a microscopic organism. You swim around in your micro-sized environment eating, killing and avoid being killed as you unlock more body parts to use. This part of the game is quite simple and its simplicity is the fun of it all.
Later, you develop legs and start to walk on land. As you try to befriend or attack other species in the hopes of domination, you gain allies, foes and body parts to continue your evolution in a mini action adventure game. Unlocking body parts is quite a chore though, especially at harder game difficulties.
As you grow in intelligence and become sentient, you move into tribal stage as you start using tools to build small villages. This part of the game is like a mini Real Time Strategy game. You gather resources, befriend or fight against other villages, and have a chance to further your village into a small town.
Then you enter the Civilization stage. Your town has grown into a city and your species has become the most dominant in the planet. Yet each city will vie for total world domination. It then becomes your job to convince those cities to join your side either by conquering them economically, religiously or using your military might. I prefer the military and blow the enemy to dust with nukes (yokyokyok). You will also get the chance to design buildings, cars, boats, planes and houses which is the most fun in this part of the game. The creative possibility of the game is endless.
Finally as you’ve conquered the world, it’s time to conquer the stars. Your specie will discover space travel and you will have to create your own space ship. This is where the game truly opens up as you move from star system to star system encountering other civilizations, conquering or annexing planets, terraforming (making a planet habitable) and unlocking the mysteries of the universe.
Graphically speaking, Spore isn’t exactly a technical marvel. It runs on most PCs smoothly. It even runs on my lady’s laptop. Yet, it looks like a well polished game especially when you’re creating stuff like your species. It gets high scores for the cartoony yet accessible feel of it. The game shines at keeping the graphics simple yet stunning which is an irony to say the least.
The sound isn’t exactly notable but acceptable. I have lots of fun listening to other species “talk” though, with a series of grunts, squawks, screams and they all try to resemble recognizable speech.
As for gameplay, Spore feels more like a collection of 5 games in one. All of these “mini-games” feel like they’ve been done before and way better in other games. The gameplay in these “mini-games” aren’t exactly revolutionary and notable yet when taken together as one, offers a compelling game.
Replay value? This is where Spore shines. The game features what it calls the “Sporepedia”. It is an online database of all the creations; (using the built in editors in the game) vehicles, species, buildings, of every spore game owner in the world. You can upload your own creations too and share them. The Sporepedia allows the integration of other people’s creations in your own game. I, for example encountered a species in the space part of the game that was made by a guy from Japan (at hindi giant robot – pero mukhang kalaban ni Shaider yokyokyok).
As said, there are no limits to the user generated content. As of this writing, the species created by users of Spore have overtaken the total number of known animal species on Earth. Crazy but true.
Spore has one big and fatal flaw and I can summarize it in three letters; DRM (Digital Rights Management). Since it’s published by Electronic Arts, it’s protected by Securom. This piece of badly written security software will only allow you to install the game a total of 5 times (3 pa nga yan noon, dinagdagan na). After that, you will have to call EA customer support and plead your case to them. It has gotten so bad that someone had the brilliant idea of suing Electronic Arts since they discovered that Securom leaves malicious data in your system to monitor your installations.
Overall if you don’t mind only installing it 5 times, and you absolutely love playing god, Spore is for you. Just don’t expect us to worship you though. Yokyokyok
Graphics – 9
Sound – 8
Gameplay – 7
Replay Value – 8 (would have been a 10 if not for the securom problem)