Spore Review

September 15, 2008

Finally getting my hands on Spore over the weekend, I thought I would do a little review of the game so far. I've had a chance to play through all of the stages (except for completing the space stage) and going a carnivorous route as well as trying the herbivore route.

For those who aren't sure what Spore is, the game gives players the opportunity to create a race of beings that start out as cell organisms that land on a planet from a meteor and evolve into beings that can eventually dominate the starting planet as well as reach into space and later colonize planets. The game plays through 5 stages (Cell, Creature, Tribal, Civilization, & Space) with each stage having it's own type of game genre but also retaining some overall similarities such as how you advance from stage to stage or how you enhance your species.

Cell Stage
The Cell stage plays very simple, you move your creature around to eat your type of food (green for herbivores, red for carnivores), you look for new parts to collect for your creature, and you avoid or do combat with other cells that are in your pool of primordial soup. For being the first stage and also a rather quick stage, this stage is a lot of fun quite simply for the sense of scale that it brings as your fledgling organism grows up. You can often see much larger organisms in the background and when you grow up, they will dynamically change and reflect your new size. At one point I was being chased by another carnivore and I grew up, turned around and swallowed my persuer in one gulp. 

Here are a couple of tips I've noticed for getting through this stage no matter what your food type. Make sure you aren't slow, look for ways to speed yourself up so you can quickly attack or flee from persuers. Defense can be a good offense, make sure you have defensive spikes or shocking parts around your body that have a good length to them, for herbivores this is especially important and I've found having them on the rear of your creature is good when you are being chased, often other cells will attack from behind and run into your defense. Also don't be afraid to search far and wide looking for new creature parts. As a carnivore I killed a much larger herbivore and was rewarded with a new part besides lots of food.

Creature Stage
The creature stage is very similar to the cell stage, but there is a bit less chaos. You get a nest which is your base of operations and as you progress you can add to your pack so that you aren't a lone individual fighting in a strange world. Depending on your path, this stage can be a little more difficult. I've found that carnivores can quickly go through this stage as you can run around hunting almost any other species you come across. Planties have a tougher time as you have to impress other species to earn points and depending on the amount of attributes you have spent in areas like singing, dancing, charm, and posing some species will be hard to impress. You continue to hunt around the land looking for new parts to add to your creature, they are most often found near other species nests which provokes contact with them for good or ill. There is still a sense of scale at this stage of the game as well. One of the most fun things I encountered was an "elite" version of a T-Rex I made back in June with the creature creator. I heard a loud roar and found this very large animal bearing down on me, he ate one of my pack but I managed to survive with a large grin on my face and exclaiming "That was fucken cool!".

Tribal Stage
After your species becomes the dominate creature in your area, you evolve into a primitive collective that is capable of wooing or eradicating other tribes on your planet. You stop altering your species itself, but rather change how they are dressed. You gain technologies and new clothing apparel from other tribes. How you dress yourselves help with socializing, gathering, or combat and the technologies allow you to outfit members of your tribe with different tools. The tools range from combat, social, or gathering oriented. Your main sources of food remain the same, animals for meaties and plants for herbies. I was a little dissappointed that carnivorous races can't eat other races, I guess they didn't want hints of cannibalism in the game even though it really wouldn't count. Since they knew they would piss off all the Creationists out there, not sure why not just push the envelope a bit further. Anyways, I found the tribal stage to be my least favorite and a little boring as far as the RTS style game play it brings. I've found members of my tribe not eating when they are hungry, or even my chief getting stuck and not engaging in combat.

Civilization Stage
Once you move into the civilization stage, you no longer are evolving the look of your race, but begin to craft buildings and vehicles to help conquer the rest of the planet. So far I've played this through as warrior and religious based cultures and they both really play exactly the same. You need to gather resources and take over other cities. Land based cities can create land and air based units, while cities with sea access can create ships. There seems to be more depth to the building of other houses, factories, and places of entertainment within your cities but it doesn't seem to have any real affect to the gameplay of this stage. Basically get lots of resources, get lots of units, and take over the enemy. It seems to be best to rush through this stage and get to space as that's what seems to be the longest stage of the game.

Space Stage
I've only just recently reached the space stage and it almost seems a little overwhelming. You start out by creating your space ship in the similar fashion to creating vehicle units from the Civ stage. Once ready, you get a small tutorial to get you the ins and outs of piloting around as well as a basis for some of the types of missions you will be doing in space. Being able to colonize planets, investigate ruins of other civilizations, capture, study, and eradicate animal life are just a few of the things you get to do. There are lots of items you can add to your spaceship as well as lots of rare animals to collect and what looks to be hundreds of planets possible to explore.

Final Thoughts
Overall the game delivers what it promised. While a few of the stages don't really feel like more than bumps in the road to get to the space stage, they don't take very long to complete and do provide some interesting challenges. The large elite creatures still exist in the Tribal stage and are fun to hunt as payback from when you were chased by them in the creature stage. Don't play any stage expecting it to be a good RTS or good Civ clone or anything like that, they are just very basic knock offs of those types of game play, familiar enough that you don't need a long tutorial but also very basic as to what you can do with your bases and units. For some reason achievements exist in the game which reward you for certain accomplishments based on the type of species you develop. Since this isn't an Xbox game and unless you are playing around with Raptr, achievements are really only for yourself.


Cards By Jenna said...

OMG, if I play this I will get addicted! Don't let me get hooked! I'm already hooked on viva pinata, I don't need another addiction...

<3 Me