It’s here, it’s here! Spore is finally here! Jump from the rooftops, swing from the rafters, w00t from IRC and perform other rituals to express glee, disbelief and celebration!
Or, if you’re like me and are suffering from an awful pre-winter, post-holiday cold; cough, sputter, attempt to smile and then collapse back into your office chair, sending up a billowing cloud of dust, shed human skin and germs. Cough, cough, die. Ugh.
So! Spore is here and the excitement is so palpable that you’ll probably need a wet sponge and a convincing excuse to mop it all up in time. Will Wright’s magnum opus is here, allowing players to follow the evolutionary cycle of a creature of their own design and push it through billions of years of evolution.
Of course, an evolution simulator doesn’t sound like something to get excited about…but this is a game coming from the team who made it big with City-Planning Simulators and Family Simulators. There seems to be nothing that Maxis can’t do, a point it has tried to prove with the massively complex and hugely ambitious Spore.
I’d like to take this moment to damn all my colleagues for proving something to me first though – that nobody ever listens to a damn word I say.
You see, I didn’t want to write this introduction and to be honest, I didn’t even think I would need to. Spore is a big deal and has been massively hyped over its ball-crunchingly long development cycle. It’s the follow-up to The Sims and even my little sister is looking forward to playing it. They even had Robin Williams playing it on TV for chrissakes. And yet, at more than a dozen points during my playing through, Harry, Richard, Tim or Jamie would wander past my desk and wonder aloud what the hell I was doing.
“Spaceships? You’re building spaceships? I thought you were supposed to make aliens ‘n’ stuff?” One or the other of them would say, eyes rolling in their skulls like eight-balls spinning off the cushion and missing the pocket with a total lack of hurry. Yes, you build spaceships and aliens. And tanks and planes and clothes and boats and houses and civilisations and more. Did nobody read my super-long preview? Did nobody even edit it?
So, here’s Spore in brief. You start as a single cell and then you grow and grow and grow, evolving and revolving and so on until you’re ruling your entire planet and venturing out into the cosmos in your space ship, searching for and abducting alien species. Yes, it’s probably the same description as has been used a hundred times before, but it also happens to be the best.
In fact, if there’s anything wrong with that description – and one has to assume there is based on the reaction of my fellow bit-tech writers – then it’s that nobody is really thinking about it in great enough detail. You have to go through all the stages in between, OK? It isn’t just that you start as a cell, then you design a creature and walk around for a bit and then BAM! You’ve got a space ship and you finish the game.
Oh no, nothing worth doing is ever that easy. Instead, you’ll iterate on your creature a dozen or more times before you even get it out of the primordial goop and onto dry land. Once there you’ll socialise and antagonise the other species on the planet, growing alongside some and rendering others extinct. You’ll design homes, clothes and seed relationships for your tribe, then plan the structure and growth of your civilisation, then...
Well, then you’re probably best off just skipping to page two and we’ll cover the whole thing properly.