Spore: Hands-on Preview

Written by Joe Martin

February 13, 2008 | 07:59

Tags: #evolution #exclusive #hands-on #preview #sandbox #simulation #spore #the-sims #will-wright #wil-wright

Companies: #electronic-arts #maxis

Spore: Hands-on Preview

Platforms: PC, Nintendo DS, Mobile, Mac
Publisher: Electronic Arts

Spore. Games don’t come any more ambitious than Spore and although the premise of the now in-famously delayed game and magnum opus of Will Wright is fairly simple, the actual realisation of that concept has proven incredibly difficult.

The idea behind Spore is this; you are God, the Alpha, Omega and Almighty. You are omniscient, omnipresent and capable of creating a rock so big you can’t possibly lift it. Then you can lift it. You’re God and that type of feat is your bread and butter.

Specifically, you are the God of a particular species that you will design, craft, sculpt and guide through from primordial ooze to inevitable extinction.

You start off small, designing a single cell and guiding it through the cesspool in which all life must begin. As time passes you use evolution as the tool by which you will shape the destiny of your creature for better or worse. A mouth here, a leg there, and a twist to the torso – you slowly create the creature you want. You can do that. You are God.

Spore: Hands-on Preview
Spore is perhaps the most ambitious game ever

From there, the game expands ever outwards and you will move from guiding a single cell or creature to encouraging a small tribe, then a city. In the climax to this universe in a box you’ll be aiding your civilisation in spreading to other stars and planets.

Such game concepts are truly the things of dreams – open, sandbox worlds with almost limitless possibilities and completely open setting. The game says to you; “Here are the tools, now do as you wish.

Unfortunately, with such an impossibly complex design even getting the basics of the gameplay right can be a daunting task in and of itself and, even with the full might of Electronic Arts behind him, Will Wright has struggled to get Spore working. The game, which he has reportedly been planning for the last decade at least, has suffered numerous delays. At the start of this year we gave it an honourable mention as a game which we thought would definitely turn out to be vapourware.

Now though, it looks like we may have to admit that we were wrong. Not only has EA confirmed that Spore will be out in time for the holidays, but the game is now in a fully playable state. All that is left to do is polish up a few glitches, test it and load it with content before release.

Spore: Hands-on Preview
The Cell Stage is where the full game begins

How do we know that, I hear you ask. Simple; we’ve played it—nearly all of it.

There are five stages or levels to Spore and we’ve played them all on the PC, as well as playing on the DS and Mobile versions of the game – though the latter failed to make as much of an impression, to be frank.

The first level is a basic arcade type game where players guide their single cell about its existence, helping it eat other creatures and grow. When it has grown enough it jumps into the Creature Stage, where players zoom their view out and manage the more complex needs of their creation. Survival skills must be complemented by socialisation skills as players enable their creature to build a tribe.

In Tribe stage the game zooms out once more and players are no longer controlling a single alien. In this stage it’s more like The Sims as you monitor the needs of a small tribe as they carve out a niche in the alien landscape. The penultimate stage of the game is the Civilisation Stage where it transitions from The Sims into Sim City and you’ll be controlling whole cities in cultures.

The last stage is the Space Stage where you hop off your polluted little rock and find new playgrounds to party in.
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