So you may have noticed a certain lateness in my posts yesterday and the complete lack of any so far today. There’s one pretty good reason for that, and it’s only because I had to get some grocery shopping today that I’m even taking a break to write this article. I’ve been playing Spore. A lot.
For those unenlightened non-gamers about, Spore is a game that lets you create a creature at cell level, fighting (or merely biting/stabbing/electrocuting/poisoning) your way out of the primordial soup until you are big enough and mean enough to grow some legs and take the fight to the land. Of course you could choose to pick the route of peace and economy, but I’m an impatient person who likes explosions.
From the cell level you become your creature and take on an almost MMO like stage where you must earn DNA (experience) points before advancing your creature. Eventually you have wiped out enough other species and made friends with the baddest of them that you can form a tribe. So follows a clearly Populus inspired stage where you hunt, gather and make war. Once you’ve either befriended or destroyed enough other tribes, you move onto civilisation.
Much like a widely expanded version of the tribe stage, the civilisation stage requires you to buy, convert or destroy 9 other cities before you can invent space travel. While this stage is the most irritable of them all (you create vastly superfluous buildings that you feel you have to make beautiful) it is over mercifully quickly, especially since for the last 4 cities I was given a bomb to blow them all up…
In a quick aside I’d like to praise Maxis for the creators. Each one is so versatile and enjoyable that I’m not even thinking about spending time in them as a downside for the next time I play the game. I haven’t tried the plant creator yet, but some of the stuff I’ve seen in the galaxy so far has made me want to go back and try some new stuff. This game is going to eat up way too much of my time…. anyway…
And so you’re thrown into space. The space stage is much like an amalgamation of all the other previous stages, just much more difficult, and much, much cooler. As my tribe of odd creatures began to explore the galaxy I discovered I was surrounded by countless space faring empires that were much better established me and had called dibs on all the good solar systems, the bastards. The beginning of the space stage really is a struggle, with you desperately trying to get enough planets terraformed to be able to afford the seemingly hugely overpriced items needed to expand your empire. I think I’m just out of that situation, with enough planets supplying enough resources to make the wait for the next cool toy not too long, but man, it was rather tought to begin with.
Of course the main reason for this was that I was placed beside one of the most evil bastard races in the galaxy (or at least my section of it). My line of planets seems to run parralel to their’s, and they just choose to attack me ALL THE FRIGGIN’ TIME. It’s pretty annoying, but I’ve got enough allies that I’m now able to buy them off to kill the twats. You see, this is why the space stage is so brilliant; even thought the previous four stages are rather low on depth, they do make the moments when you dip your fingers into them in the space stage much more rewarding. My only gripe is that there isn’t any sort of automated way to get your cities to build themselves, although there could be, I’m just not advanced enough yet.
I suppose that’s my main gripe with the game so far. I’m expected to do everything for my civilisation. We don’t have any other spaceships going around destroying things or helping me out when our planets get attacked, and when a city gets a little banged up I have to replant all the buildings. That, and a lack of autosave, are the only things stopping me really enjoying Spore as much as I should (the lack of autosave really hits hard because I get so immersed in the game and then something causes it to crash – not fun).
The fact that I’m considering starting up another race just to see how else I can do things is testament to how fun the game is. Each time I play is going to be unique, and that makes it worth far more than the paltry sum I paid for the game, even if I wasn’t able to be reimbursed the money I paid for the creature creator because EA charge far too much. So go out, get the game, lock your door and enjoy the hell out of it.