Published on September 11th, 2008 | by Greg0
Spore: Rise and Fall of the Obscuritan Empire
Spore really isn’t a traditional game- but from the guy behind The Sims and Sim City, what would you expect? It’s challenging, engaging, truly replayable, and easy to pickup. But it also winds up being frustrating, boring, and very inconsistent.
As with previous games from Maxis and Will Wright, Spore lends itself to creativity and exploration – and towards storytelling. As you progress through various stages of evolution, Spore allows you to continually tweak the world. At first, you are just a small, tiny piece of it- but you eventually gain the ability to shape and control the planets and expand your galactic empire. My Obscuritans began as humble, insectoid omnivores, and quickly found natural enemies in the larger, ape-like Mandobors. After some tough times scrambling for food, in the tribal stage we managed to drive the Mandos to extinction- though we would later find them on another planet…
The major fault with the game lies with how little your modifications actually matter. Sure, you can add a dozen legs to your creature, or spikes, or suction cups- and watching the game animate your new creation never gets old. But beyond the early stages of the game, those features have little effect. Spore doesn’t simulate evolution, despite being clearly based on an evolutionary framework, one that explicitly shows you growing from a bacterium to a land-based animal, and then a tribe, and so on. A core piece of evolution- random mutations- is completely absent, so that even though you “breed”, you only manually change your appearance throughout the entire game. And the game doesn’t truly seem to exemplify “survival of the fittest”.
Is it fun? Yes! Is it deep? Not so much- but as usual, expansion packs are sure to be on the way. And half of the fun (and a neat bit of technology) is seeing what other people have created- the game automatically downloads the creatures and spaceships and buildings of other players. Expect to see much more of this!
Note: Spore has been released on many platforms, and the above review refers only to the PC version, not the iPhone, Nintendo DS, Mac, or mobile versions.