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


From the creature phase things start to get a little more or less interesting, depending on your tastes in terms of game genres. If you find detailed simulations to be less interesting than quick arcade action then Spore is going to get progressively less interesting the more you play through it.

Fortunately, the more you play, the more editing there is to do. By the time you reach the Civilisation and Space Stages then there’s plenty more content creation to do to help break up the micromanagement. You’ll get a chance to design vehicles, buildings and later, UFOs.

Designing all these structures is essentially very similar to the Creature Creation stage, except you don’t start out with a torso for a starting point. Instead, it’s down to players to place simple geometric shapes down, tweaking them and adding detail until you get the look you want.

Now, that style of editor may sound simple, but it can be as complex as you want. It’s very much like Lego in that it can be as involved or simple as you want. If you’d rather get down to the nitty gritty of running an entire culture and have your industries ticking over the way you want then all you need do is draw a cube and add a door.

Spore: Hands-on Preview Flying Porcupines Spore: Hands-on Preview Flying Porcupines Spore: Hands-on Preview Flying Porcupines Spore: Hands-on Preview Flying Porcupines
Content creation can be as simple or as complex as you like

If, on the other hand, you want to do something a little more satisfying then, well, the possibilities really are endless and you can make your designs as crazy as you like. Personally, I always had a thing for Arthurian legend growing up so I made my City Hall resemble my own idea of Camelot.

Unfortunately, I kind of forgot that theme by the time I got round to creating a UFO and my spaceships ended up looking more like rolled up porcupines that had sat down on a jet engine. Watching a big spiky ball take off while surrounded by medieval castles is an odd experience.

By the time I got round to the space stage though, I had other things on my mind than how ludicrous the world my imagination had built was. The Space Stage of the game is arguably the most explicitly driven part of the game and unlike the other stages of the game it has goals which are directly given to the player via the race they have created.

Spore: Hands-on Preview Flying Porcupines
Players get a chance to build every aspect of their world

As you fly your UFO around the world expect to have the head of your own Starfleet on the screen telling you what they need you to do – everything from scanning flora to abducting and probing fauna.

Chatting with some of the folks from Maxis, it was hinted at that although Spore doesn’t have an endgame or an overall victory scenario it may in fact have a way to win in some way. EA and Maxis were both closed-lipped on details, but there are definite suggestions of such a thing in the Space Stage where the game starts to feel more goal orientated and less like a playground.

In my opinion, the Space Stage is where the game starts to feel most like a game too and where the graphical style of Spore is most appreciable. The cartoony presentation and bright colours look OK, but not much more when you’re zoomed in on the Creature Stage.

By the time you can see the whole planet though the world is starting to get filled up with cities and buildings of your own design and the look of the game is at its most awesome. The contrast of the white clouds, green land and inky blackness of space in particular looks pretty awesome – especially since it’s filled with flying porcupines.
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