Review by TeishuKyokai
"Spore: Worth Your Time And Money?"
I, like many others, were looking forward to its release. I had followed the game for many years and was extremely excited when I was able to purchase it. I soon, however, was sorely disappointed in this game.
Game Play - 6/10
I will review each phase separately as each stage is separate from the others and consists of different game play elements.
Cell Stage: Though it should be more appropriately called the "multi-celled organism stage," we will leave it as it is called by the creators. You start by picking a starting planet and choosing to be an herbivore or a carnivore, though both are relatively the same. You kill creatures and eat their meat, which I thought looked like red eggshells, or you eat free floating algae, some of which is clustered on bushes. I found that to be rather repetitive and there is no other way to progress than to eat. From there you are able to unlock various parts to improve your creature, where placement of the defenses is important and speed is a needed asset. You will eventually eat enough so that you grow a brain and are able to progress to the land. I found this stage to be one of my most favorite, very interesting designs, but it was over far too quickly and the parts that you unlock have very little purpose in the next stage.
Creature Stage: Welcome to the land, because you are never allowed into the sea again. The parts that you collected in the previous stage don't matter because you can go around and collect the shiny bones on the ground to unlock new parts that are devastatingly better than your previous ones. Of course you can also unlock parts by using social or aggressive abilities on enemy creatures, but it is far easier to just wonder around picking up parts. I believe this creates an undermining of sorts because you the player get rewarded for finding random bits of bone and when it comes to progress further, you have to socialize or be aggressive to progress. But what is the point when I don't get reward for it in the first place? As you collect parts, you upgrade your creature and can choose to either be good or evil. The same as all the other games, you can dance, pose, etc. or bite, spit, etc. Based off of this, you get DNA that allows you to buy new parts and progress though the game, unlocking a pack system that makes it easier to socialize or kill. Though I did find it stupidly easy to just kill everything, after all socializing requires exact duplication of what the species you are trying to socialize is doing and that can get rather annoying. I would just rather beat the snot out of the creature than mimic it. Eventually, after repetitive steps, you progress to the next stage. Overall, this stage is fun. You can create a creature and see it progress, though evolution doesn't matter, since I can change from a shark-like creature to a dragon with just changing of a few parts. Be sure to choose your creature precisely, because you can't change him once you progress.
Tribal Stage: Ready? Here we go. This stage mimics a typical RTS game, in that you gather materials to make more tribesmen, and that is it. You don't need lumber or gold, nor can you select and make a hotkey function for a certain number of tribesmen. I found that to be rather annoying. Just like the previous stage, you can either socialize or beat the snot out of an opposing tribe. Once you do, you get more parts or clothing to customize your guy with and more buildings. Though the clothing matters for now and you are limited in the number of buildings you can possess, after all, there are only 9 of them. Once you ally with a certain tribe, you can't break that bond and strike them down however, and the fight system consists of telling your 9 tribesmen to go to point B and attack. Sheer numbers can win most of the time and I found that stone axes will get the job done plain and simple. After you kill or ally with all the tribes, you progress into the next stage. This stage is rather the same as the previous. This includes the social and aggressive choices and the fact that once you progress, your parts don't matter anymore, and so all your customization doesn't matter. By the way, you might want to make sure your guy looks his best, because you can't change it once you move on.
Civilization Stage: Sweet, your tribe increased in size to create a city. This stage operates like the RTS that you might be more aware of. You can customize your buildings (because I am a building designer) and your land, air, and space vehicles (because I am a vehicle designer) and use them. You collect spice and either takes over by economic, aggressive, or social, I mean religious means. But there is no point in that because you get completely overpowered abilities that can literally take over a city in a single shot, so there is no need to use your vehicles. Once you unite or take over the world, you move on to the next stage. Unlike the previous stages, you can further customize your buildings later, but you can't customize your vehicles and will never see them again, well, maybe the boats
Space Stage: Your civilization realized how to fly in space and so you got to this stage, congrats. You can now customize your space vehicle. Too bad you have to go on tedious and repetitive missions. The scenarios include: saving a planet from a disease animal (because killing 5 animals saves the whole race), saving a planet from pirates (though they will just come back in 2 minutes), and that is it actually. You can't invade a planet like you might have thought, because only your space ship goes into space and you take over by firing at a city till it surrenders. Socializing only lets you ally with the other races on other planets that you didn't populate because you created the universe and doesn't do anything else besides allowing for trade routes that take over slowly or getting some of their ships to join you (though they don't do anything besides fire if you are under attack, though the pirate and opposing ships are incredibly weak and require little effort to destroy. They are also very repetitive looking and unoriginal.) The goal is open ended and you can colonize, though I thought that just means more save me from the pirates than anything, and you can customize planets with new colors and change the terrain. You can customize other animals, etc. You unlock more impressive weapons and abilities by repeating the same actions over and over and that is about it, besides the endless repetitive planets.
The audio includes animal sounds, ambient sounds, city sounds, and all the normal sounds that you would expect from creatures, cities, or vehicles. There are even fun musical bits for when you mate and progress from one stage to another or do something special. There is no overriding musical choices though and no real soundtrack to speak of.
Graphics - 9/10
The overall designs and looks are beautiful, exactly what you would expect out of game that has been polished over and over to look good. But that is all I feel that it is, it just looks good.
Replay Value 5/10
Whether you play as an herbivore, carnivore, or in-between, you have done it once, you have done it enough. The supposed best part of the game is the most lacking, without much in the way of change, it always comes between two decisions, social or aggressive, meat or plants, it doesn't matter, because it will stay play the virtual same.
The downfall of this game I feel was the huge hype. This game was supposed to be the end all and be all, but it had fallen short and burned. But not only that, the repetitive nature of the game and the fact that overall your customization only amounts to cosmetic effects really hurts. No matter if your creatures has four legs or two legs, he moves the same, there are a set amount of abilities and no matter how hard or long you play, you are just playing the same game over and over. I suggest renting it or borrowing it from a friend. Though be careful about that how SecuRom thing.
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 09/11/08
Game Release: Spore (US, 09/07/08)
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