Review by ReploidProtoman
"While It Was Interesting, It Was No E.V.O."
To start off, I bought this game the day it came out, and I've proceeded to play it every day since then. After bringing three counter-balancing races up to the Space Age, I feel I have the experience to review this properly.
Spore has a decent, easy to load, graphical interface; and I like that. The only problem is that it could have been much more at the highest settings, but they opted to make it universal. While this is good, it's also lazy. Now the reason I give it at least an 8 is simple: The variety between planets never ceases to amaze me. Each planet can be a wondrously different place than the last. In many ways it's hard to describe how epic the feeling of watching a planet change as you terraform it in real time. Simply put, I am not disappointed in what I got in this category.
Cell Stage: 8/10
This is one of two stages in which your species is actually able to physically evolve. In the cell stage, you play a big like the old SNES game E.V.O. Search For Eden; in the respect that your character must defeat other organisms or eat simple prey, which may be plant-life, in order to gain more DNA points and gain access to more parts. These parts are unlocked whenever another organism is killed and you're character successfully makes physical contact with it. The only reason I didn't give this is a ten is simply that you only have three parts in four categories to chose from. One of which, the eyes, doesn't effect the gameplay at all.
Creature Stage: 9/10
This was my favorite stage by far; the Cell stage being the second and Civilization stage being the third. This is the stage that was represented in the Creature Creator. Unlike the cell stage, this stage focuses on relationships with other creatures. The relationships being, quite frankly, allies, enemies, or dinner. That's all there is to it. When you meet another species, you must either perform a ritual of the four benevolent skills (singing, dancing, charming, and posing) or simply attack and kill between three and six of them each time. Each species will give you a different amount of DNA points for completing these tasks, and parts will be given to you as well. The most important part of this stage, though, is to find the skeletal remains of other species and scavenge them for more parts. This stage can have a lot of variety to it, but it's not overly complicated and isn't excessively short.
Tribal Stage: 5/10
This stage is the one in which your creature will become part of a group, rather than a single controlled unit. The objective of this stage is to encounter other tribes, as they appear, and either perform for them using instruments, or attack them outright. The instruments, weapons, and tools are acquired by befriending or destroying other tribes. This stage has about as much complexity as the Creature stage mixed with the Cell stage, then divided by half. This stage is both short, and seemingly pointless, as when you are done, even if you ally all the other species' villages, you will never see them again later in the game.
Civilization Stage: 7/10
I give this one a seven on the grounds that you have three different styles of playthrough, sort of, to chose from (Military, Religious or Economic); and by chose, I mean it's determined by your previous stages' behavior. This is the stage in which you have land, sea, and air vehicles to create, as well as four types of buildings. You're objective consists of converting, destroying, or purchasing other cities from rival civilizations. Unfortunately, it is essentially like a demo for a much larger RTS. While you may have powers, high customizability of vehicles, and town micromanagement to ensure maximum profitability, you do not have an extensive amount of enemies, nor a lot of variety in how the game will play out each time you come back to this stage later on. For what's it's worth, this stage had a huge amount of potential; they just didn't manage develop it all the way to fruition.
Space Age: 3/10
This stage is my least favorite, and the most amazingly potent migraine inducer I have ever known. Other races you encounter will either be your allies, your enemies, or completely neutral to your existence, to the extent that you, usually, chose to have them act towards you. The point of this stage is to use tools in order to play an economic game of spice merchant in order to unlock achievements, which will in turn grant you access to all the tools and items you will need to combat a preset enemy of this stage: The Grox. They act as a major, recurring enemy for your civilization and their allies. Needless to say, there is a lot, and I do mean an enormous, amount of space in which to work in this stage. Unfortunately, it very, very repetitive, and only remotely important as you realize that you cannot continue customize your ship no matter how you behaved in previous stages, in order to fit your style. It has access to the same items no matter how you play. Essentially, this stage hosts the graphical powerhouse of the game, as well as the astronomical wonderment that I described earlier. Terraforming is both joyously entertaining, and mind-crushingly disappointing at once. For after your first six planets you may come to realize how little effort you actually need to put into the planets in order to make them profitable; and how that is the only thing that really matters about any given planet you control: How much money can you make off of it?
Replayability: 10/10 or 3/10 depending.
Simply put, this category means something entirely different in most other games, whereas in Spore, it is dependent upon the player. There is no reason you can't have six different civilizations at the Space age by the end of a week of playing this game; and yet there is always a little bit of entertainment that I still find playing it right from the Cell Stage up.
+ Very Unique Style.
+ Heavy diversity between creations of different players.
~+ Timeless feel that may last for years to come.
- Quickly reaches the end before most players are ready to finish the game.
- The majority of the effort that you put into a creature means very little in the final stage of the game.
- Not a very different game each time after you played as carnivore/military, herbivore/religious, and omnivore/economic races.
I gave this game a four simply because that's how it feels after reaching the end for the third time. Like there is a lot to enjoy, but it's over so quickly that I feel I could return it and not miss it the next day.
Final Note: I look forward to copycat efforts done in Spore's likeness in the future, it's been far too long since we've had games based on evolution and all the unpredictability that can come from that kind of experience.
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 09/25/08
Game Release: Spore (US, 09/07/08)
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