Spore was launched by Maxis in 2008. Despite being a ground-breaking game that deserves much of the praise it’s been given over the years, especially given the period it was published, I think several of its unique features fall short. Even though I love the game, it’s clear that some of the stages seem to have been far more carefully thought out than others, not all of them being created equal, which results in it falling short in mainly the later stages of the game.
Spore is unique for the most part, in that it covers a wide range of gameplay genres, bonding them into a complete experience as you grow your lifeform from a tiny cellular being to a universe exploring species – and Spore does it fairly successfully… though simplistically.
The cell stage, which is the initial step, is by far my favourite. A game that just employed this aesthetic, perhaps with active multiplayer, would be incredibly cool to see. You start off as a simple multicellular organism, and your only options are to either consume your way to the top of the food chain, run away while foraging for plants, or combine the two to become an omnivore, which is probably the best way to be. Your body transforms as you play, growing bigger and stronger as the surroundings change and adapt to your new size.
Once you reach a certain size, your tiny cellular organism can swim to land and enter the secondary stage, also referred to as the creature stage. In this strange fusion of first-person shooter style gameplay and role-playing games, you advance your species by finding the bones of those who perished, eliminating local wildlife, or befriending them. Even though I adore fighting and ganking my way to the top, this level is not that fun for me since I feel that being friendly is the best strategy for collaborating with other species rather than eradicating them.
The first two stages of EVO: Search for Eden, in which you develop from a simple life form into one of the planet’s most powerful species, are similar to these two phases, so I enjoyed the nostalgia!
The third and last step that I really enjoyed is the tribal stage. While other people might like to play as a friendly vegan pacifist, I find it to be more exhilarating to battle my way to the top against other tribes. Peaceful relationships take away from this stage because, in my opinion, they simplify things too much. There must be war, Games Workshop said it, so it must be true! Nothing beats the pure adrenal thrill of trying to survive a raid by a massive gank mob of individuals who are frequently more resilient than you. When you rob someone else, the animals steal your food and kill your wailing children. It’s very challenging, and I feel without this challenge the stage isn’t nearly as fun.
The fourth phase is a total failure. You won’t notice how bad it is until you grow old at your keyboard because the battling is so easy and takes too long, making fighting a game that can only be won with money, and lots of it. Economy is key in this stage and once you’re mastering it, which is not hard, you are going to shine. The faster out of this stage the better, as it’s really, really boring and awful.
The space age, the fifth stage, lets you explore the vastness of space. You can, among other things, expand and destroy civilizations, abduct animals – which you may have seen happening previously, visit strange new worlds, and more, although the less revealed about this one the better. There’s a lot to do and it does kinda make up for the other stages!
I think Spore is a terrific game overall. It is full of amazing ideas, that make it an enjoyable and fun game overall. The fact that the initial and last stages are by far the greatest with so much boredom in-between causes it to fall short. It’s a lot of fun to grow up as a tiny creature in the cell stage and make it through to the creature stage, where you go on land-based adventures. I wasn’t as interested in this one, despite the fact that it was reasonably engaging.
Whilst it wasn’t the hardest thing I’ve done, it may feel overwhelming when you’re under attack from all sides in the tribal stage, and I think this is because I’ve been playing the game on the hard difficulty option. Other options will probably make it a little more fun for the player.
The civilization level is the most demoralizing because it seems like a never-ending standoff, and if you don’t move quickly enough, you may get trapped in a never-ending cycle for hours until buying your way to victory. I wish this one didn’t exist to be honest. But that’s only my personal thoughts.
The universe on the space stage is quite different and has a lot to offer… I really enjoyed this one since you get to kidnap people in the same way that lifeforms were kidnapped in earlier periods, which makes it hilarious in and of itself. No longer will I be probed, but it’s probing day for everyone else!
Although I wasn’t a fan of the middle, the game has a lot of other positive qualities that I’m sure will appeal to many others. Spore is a fantastic game that elegantly depicts a race’s progress from its most basic beginnings through its ascent to the heavens. Most people would probably enjoy the game because of its thoughtful design; if you don’t like one stage, you might like another.
At the time, Spore stood out from the competition, and it’s simple to see why. It is amazing how sophisticated and well-designed everything is. I find it unfortunate that parts of the game’s stages, especially the civilization level, lack the scale and appeal of the others. To be clear, this is a small issue with a fantastic game. Spore from Maxis receives a strong 6.5 out of 10.