Spore still evolving, but it’s worth the wait


Hands-on preview of long-delayed life simulator shows it lives up to hype

Mar 08, 2008 04:30 AM

Special to the Star
Among the countless sequels, shameless movie tie-ins and Grand Theft Auto copycats, video game fans perusing the shelves at their local electronics store will soon find a box adorned with the simple word “Spore.” A player will take it home, install it on their laptop or desktop PC and launch the most refreshingly unique digital playground they’ve ever clicked through.

That is, if the six-years-in-the-making epic lives up to the extraordinary hype swelling around it when it launches on Sept. 7.

And from what we’ve played already, it should.

Spore (www.spore.com) is the brainchild of Will Wright, the creator of such commercially successful and critically heralded franchises as SimCity, considered the original “God game,” and The Sims, the best-selling computer game series of all time with nearly 100 million units sold worldwide.

Electronic Arts’ Spore, however, is Wright’s deepest “life simulation” to date. This Windows PC and Mac game will let players create and nurture creatures, build communities and relationships, and advance a tribe until it’s capable of travelling to other parts of the world and, eventually, throughout deep space. Consider it hands-on evolution, where you can not only customize the way the creature looks and walks and shape the civilization’s buildings and vehicles but, more importantly, guide your being’s behaviour, which will decide its fate.

Mirroring the evolution of life on Earth, Spore is divided into six main phases – from the “Tidepool” phase, where players control a micro-organism, through the “Creature,” “Tribal,” “City” and “Civilization” phases, to the final “Space” phase, where you can visit other worlds in the galaxy to colonize new planets and moons, develop peaceful relationships with ETs or initiate an intergalactic war.

Just as players of The Sims enjoy fooling around with the built-in editor to create a unique family, Spore lets you fully customize the look of your creatures with hundreds of drag and drop objects, ranging from facial features and sensory organs to arms and legs to body shape, texture and colour.

For example, one gamer may create a red, bulbous spider-like organism with huge teeth to rip the flesh off of others, while another may design a slender yellow-and-blue-striped mammal that prefers soft vegetation. In other words, the physical attributes you choose for your creatures will directly affect how they walk, what they hunt and how they survive. Oy, if only Darwin was alive today to see this.

Because no man is an island, players who reach the Space phase will visit planets populated by other Spore players in an online component. You can even “bookmark” your favourite places to visit or view a YouTube-like “Top 10” list of most popular worlds.

The Game Guy will keep you updated on the latest Spore news and developments as we anxiously await the game this fall.


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