Gaming 195

Published on September 11th, 2008 | by Greg


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.

About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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