Have you ever sat down for a project and had so many ideas that the final product ended up becoming a blundered mess of ideas. The more I heard about Spore throughout its development cycle the more I worried that this may happen for Will Wright (the creator of games like The Sims and Sim City) latest title Spore. More then anything Spore is an evolution game, a game that changes and adjusts with you and challenges you every step of the way. Was Maxis able to gather all of their ideas together to form a cohesive final product, or like so many developers did they fall into the trap of having to many good ideas? Read our full review to find out!
Let me get one thing straight right out of the gate, Spore is a gigantic game, and is by far the toughest challenge that Maxis has ever dealt with. Sure making a human simulation game fun like they did with The Sims was an amazing achievement but to make a game like Spore work would require sheer brilliance. Being that Spore is such a large and complex title let me have you keep in mind that similar to a game like The Sims everyones experience in the game will be somewhat different so you are mostly hearing about my extended experience in the game.
With that being said, the game starts off in the cellular level, and to be honest in terms of instructions, the game sort of just throws you in there. Spore was created however as a game that anyone can play like many of Maxis previous titles so the gameplay in Spore is rather easy to figure out on your own. The initial stage in the game is the cell stage where you play an overly simplistic arcade style game where you grow your cell and develop your cell to basically get the groundwork in for the rest of the game. This stage is by far the shortest stage of the game but at least gives a nice introduction into the game.
The cell stage is rather short and for good reason it is really just an old school arcade game. Things start to really get interested when you hit land, when the game turns into an action game. This isn’t all that deep of a level in the game either as you end up doing a lot of the same actions over and over again (similar to the cell stage) and similar to an MMO you do a lot of the repetitive action here to get to the bulk of the game.
The next area of the game is where things start becoming an overarching look to what I think people expected from Spore. This next area called the Tribal mode is where you go to a real time strategy portion of the game. This is where things for me got a little dicey. The first few areas seemed like they were just warming the seat for you but the Tribal mode goes a bit to simplistic for my taste buds. Really there are two options here you either can attack or remain friendly with others inhabiting your area of the planet. For anyone that has played a RTS game will be right at home with this portion of the game.
Then comes the civilization mode which is basically just adding additional features to the tribal mode. It is here however that the scale of the game gets a bit larger and instead of just paying attention to an area your now looking at an entire planet. This is one of the deeper areas of the game and this is where you will start to spend a lot of time and this is where I really started getting into Spore. It was a much deeper RTS experience and required a lot more skill and strategy.
But the real winner in Spores multilayered gameplay was the Space stage which is considerably longer and this is when you get a real sense of the overarching gameplay of Spore. The gameplay here is huge it is like an MMO but in a single player form. You can now start to expand your creation to other planets by taking them over or through more civilized take overs. This area of the game is gigantic and it really does offer up an experience that I believe people expected from Spore.
One element we have not brought up yet about Spore is user created content. Much of the experience is created by you the user, so having an expansive user created back-end for Spore was really one of the biggest things to be excited about. Obviously EA and Maxis came out with the Spore Creature Creator that was released a while ago and gamers really seemed to enjoy it. Now everything in your game can be shared with others and vice versa, and even with the game just being released this is having a huge impact on the game.
Sure I may be harsh on some of the early aspects of Spore, and at times I did have my gut telling me the guys and gals at Maxis went for to much here, but then I sat back and remembered we need more companies to take great risks like Spore. The gameplay was made for “everyone” and in that respect they really did succeed in a big way.
One thing that Maxis has done well ever since the early days of SimCity is create a really open and appealing world for the user, and thus is even more the case with a game like Spore. You know it is a tough line to cross people don’t always gravitate to different and what Maxis did was keep a lot of the underlying tones of Spore really open and friendly. To do this they made a lot of the colors bright and soft and the creatures really more on the teddy bear side of the spectrum, even when they are trying to take over the world. The visuals aren’t graphical hogs but they do enough to make for a really solid visual experience.
Spore starts out extremely underwhelming, I thought at first that Spore may just be a big bust for EA and Maxis. But let me assure everyone reading this that this feeling goes away in a hurry because you start to realize how great the vision of Spore was and how amazing putting this vision together really turned out. I have a feeling that the real hardcore gamers may have a problem with the ease of Spore, but I think for the middle of the road gamer that does mind just a great experience Spore will be a ton of fun for them.
As I have said a few times through this review the initial taste of Spore isn’t as strong as I would have liked but the deep and long lasting experience of Spore more then makes up for it. I am not sure if Maxis necessarily met all the expectations of this extremely hyped game but in many ways it really opens the door for developers to be creative and go after further ambitions then doing yet another first person shooter. Sure Spore may not be the perfect game but its an amazing accomplishment and one that I think everyone should really check out.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.