Review by Pruvmerong

"Well worth the wait."

Despite the initial complaints about this game, this game has indeed lived up to most of the hype.

Spore is a game that takes you on an epic journey of evolution. You begin as a single-celled organism and guide your creation as it grows, evolves, gains sentience, and ultimately sets off to explore the galaxy. This game has been in development for several years, and is one of the most highly anticipated games of all time. Spore is perhaps the most ambitious game ever created.

Gameplay - 9/10
There's a lot to be said about Spore's gameplay. It is perhaps the most varied of any game in recent years. The game is divided up among five main parts, each with its own style of gameplay.

Cell Phase - You will spend your first hour or so swimming around in a colorful 2d environment. This phase of the game is very simple, reminiscent of of the classic game, Pac-Man. Your goal is to swim around and feed in order to gain DNA points. The type of food you consume will depend on whether you chose to start out as an herbivore or carnivore. Along the way you will come across token-like objects that will unlock new part upgrades to spend your DNA points on. Once you've collected some DNA points, you can call a mate, and you are taken to Spore's first editor.

In the Cell Editor, you can spend your DNA points on a number of various parts for your creature to enhance its abilities such as speed and defenses. You can freely arrange the parts on your cell's body however you see fit, and adjust your cell's color. Once you're satisfied with your changes, a new creature will be born reflecting those changes.

Overtime, a gauge on the bottom of your screen will indicate how far your cell's growth has progressed. Once the gauge is full, you can proceed to the next phase of the game.

Creature Phase - Your creature now evolves legs and makes its way onto land. Gameplay now takes place in a lush 3d environment. Your goal remains the same: Gain DNA points and unlock new parts to upgrade your creature. However, there are two ways of gaining DNA points which will depend heavily on whether your creature is an herbivore or a carnivore. Either by making friends with the other local wildlife, or hunting them down and feeding on them, your creature will continue to grow.

The Creature Editor is similar to the cell editor, except it is now in 3d. There are also many more types of upgrades. Upgrading your defenses or social skills will give your creature the core abilities it needs to grow. But there are also many other upgrades such as faster feet to increase speed, or you can even add wings to take to the sky. There are countless combinations, and no two creatures you create will be the same.

As you roam the lands, there are plenty of surprises in store. It's not uncommon for natural disasters or UFO sightings to occur. It's small details like this that gives the creature phase it's charm. Your creature's intelligence will grow as the progress bar fills. Once the bar is full, it's time to move on to Spore's third phase.

Tribal Phase Your creature has now become sentient, and has obtained enough intelligence to begin cooperating with other members of its species. You no longer control a single creature. Instead you control a small tribe of them in an RTS-style game of conquest. Your goal is to take control of the entire continent either by annihilating the other tribes, or making friends with them. Either method will gradually unlock new tools for your tribe to use such as musical instruments for impressing other tribes, or weapons to help destroy them. You no longer collect DNA points. Your only resource is food, which can be used as gifts to help win over other tribes, or it can be spent to buy new tools for your tribe. Eating food also restores your tribe members' health and energy.

At this stage of the game, you can no longer make physical changes to your creature. Instead you get a clothing editor to adorn your creatures with primitive clothing. The various types of clothes increase your stats such as your social skills, combat abilities, or your effectiveness at gathering food.

As you take over other tribes, your Hut and your Totem Pole grow larger. Once you have control over the continent, it's time to progress to the next Phase.

Civilization Phase Your small village is now upgraded to a modern city. You will design a city hall, houses, factories, and entertainment buildings. You no longer control your creatures directly. Instead, you will control land vehicles, boats, and even airplanes (which are rather fun to design) in an RTS-style conquest to take over the world. You can send your vehicles off to other cities to destroy them, trade with them (and eventually take control via financial superiority), or convert them religiously. The method you use to take over the world is up to you.

The highlight of this phase is the Vehicle Editors. You are given a large choice of building blocks, weapons, and various parts to create the vehicle of your dream. A separate editor exists for land, sea, and air vehicles. It is a lot of fun designing vehicles that reflect your race's personality, or simply recreating your favorite Hollywood vehicle.

As you take over other cities, your own creatures will populate them. Once you're the last race standing, you will move onto the fifth and final phase of Spore.

Space Phase It's time to take to the stars as you design a UFO. The space ship editor is just as engaging as the other editors. You will have all of the parts and building blocks from the other vehicle editors, plus many new ones. Take your time creating your UFO, because it's where you'll be living for the rest of the game.

The Space Phase combines RTS-style conquest with real-time action. The galaxy is enormous, and you're given the freedom to explore it, interact with other races, and expand your empire. You can take your ship to any star or planet you set your eyes on. As you complete various tasks such as missions for other races, terraforming, trading, exploring (the list goes on), you will earn badges. As you earn more badges, new tools, weapons, and upgrades for your UFO become available for purchase. Your goal is to beef up your UFO, your wallet, your empire, and your list of allies as you make your way to the center of the galaxy, where the mysteries of the universe await.

Graphics - 9/10
The graphics in Spore are very modest. You can expect to find the environments lush and colorful, but not incredibly detailed. There is a lot of variety in every aspect of Spore's graphics. The graphics earn extra points for being very well optimized. Unlike the vast majority of new PC games these days, Spore can run smoothly on almost any relatively modern PC.

Sound - 8/10
The music in Spore is relatively simple, yet charming, reflecting the situation you're in. Speech in this game is very much like The Sims. Creatures speak in a humorous gibberish dialect. The variety in speech types is lacking, so you will often come across two races who sound exactly the same. Overall, the sound in Spore is well thought out and adds to the overall charm of this game.

Technology - I won't bore you with the details of the technology behind Spore. However, it is definitely worth mentioning that Spore's programming is nothing short of a great feat of technology. Many aspects of this game are procedurally generated, and everything just works. Want to create a 7-legged creature? No problem, it will move in a realistic fashion. Another important aspect of Spore's technology is its online content. As you play, the game will populate the galaxy with creatures, vehicles, and buildings that other players around the world have created. Furthermore, everything you create is uploaded to the central Sporepedia database, and your creations will be seen in other player's games. It's innovation such as this that sets Spore apart from other games.

Other Notes - Spore certainly has its fair share of technical and balance problems. There are many complaints concerning SecuROM, crashes, glitches, and gameplay problems that hinder the game. However, Spore should not be judged based on these issues. It is highly likely that they will all be solved in upcoming patches and expansion packs.

Overall Score - 9/10

For a game that has been hyped up for several years, it's hard not to notice its flaws. However, upon closer inspection, you'll see that the players have been given almost everything that has been promised. And anything that has been left out is likely to be included in future expansion packs. Spore is a game that almost anyone can enjoy. The editors alone make it worth buying this game, even if you don't enjoy the rest of the gameplay. Overall, if you're a gamer on any level, this one is definitely worth checking out.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 09/09/08, Updated 09/12/08

Game Release: Spore (US, 09/07/08)

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