Spore Review: Was Spore Worth the Wait?

Well, it has been three years since Will Wright, head of Maxis and legendary game designer of all the “Sim” games, introduced the world to Spore. If you are interested in a summary of how the game works, I’ll point you to this article. If you want more information about the social networking aspect of Spore, check out here. This is a review of Spore, including how well it does those things and if it will appeal to you.

Just so it’s clear, Spore is unique. There really has never been another game like Spore. The main distinction, besides having five connected “stages,” is Spore’s use of procedural animation. This means that whatever creation you make will animate differently depending on how you arrange its parts, and this is definitely cool.

Another good thing about Spore is the way it integrates creativity with function. All of the editors allow you to customize the way your particular creations look, and they are all very flexible. One downside, though, is that the further along you are, the less the editor really affects gameplay. For example, in the cell stage of Spore, the parts you place have a direct impact on how your cell will do, but in space, it doesn’t matter how you arrange your spaceship parts–the spaceship basically behaves the same way in all cases. This is counterintuitive, because there’s a lot more gameplay options in space stage than in cell stage, but less customization for your avatar.

Now, the real question is, what kind of a gamer are you? There was a serious lapse in communication from EA and Maxis on the type of game this would be. For those who need deep, satisfying gameplay, this is not for you. I repeat, Spore is not a deep game. Spore is especially not for you if you couldn’t care less what your creations look like, because a great deal of the “gameplay” is simply designing the various creations populating your game world.

If, on the other hand, you enjoyed the standalone Creature Creator, and you wished you could see your creatures moving around and interacting with others made by other players, you will love Spore. The game is almost more of a toy, and Will Wright is famous for saying that he tries to create products that let people do with them what they wish. It’s debatable how well Spore does this, however. Designing your Spore creations has nearly limitless options, but gameplay is much more rigid.

Sound and music, on the whole, is excellent, and really complements the experience. Graphics are appropriately crisp and the animation is usually convincing. Spore does have some stability issues; on the Spore forums, you can read about crashes, sluggish frame rates, and sometimes even bizarre, game-stopping bugs. Be sure your system meets the system requirements.

There’s one more important thing to know. Spore ships with DRM (Digital Rights Management), which aims to protect EA and Maxis from piracy of their games. The particular variety they use is called SecuROM, and it is controversial because it is rumored to install “root kits” and doesn’t go away if you uninstall the product it came on. The other problem is that Spore only allows 3 activations. This means if you install it on two different computers, you have used 2 activations. If you use up all your activations, you have to call their technical support to get another. While it’s meant to stop piracy, it is actually an inconvenience for paying customers. Pirates have already cracked the full game and stripped it of its DRM. One advantage of this is they don’t require you to have your CD in the drive, but that isn’t much of a consolation.

On the whole, Spore is fun and pretty, but its lack of depth will probably keep it from attaining the same success as the Sims. Because the game implements so many brand-spanking-new concepts, it’s not surprising that it isn’t quite up to the level of gameplay of genres it borrows from. This is one that I would recommend you keep an eye on at the very least. There are promised expansion packs forthcoming, and maybe they will fill in some gaps in gameplay, as well as increasing the number of parts in editors. Pokemon go accounts will create an environment in which the interaction of the players with new people will be increased. There will be saving of the time and efforts of the players.

To summarize: Spore has a lot going for it, especially because its concept of evolution is refreshing and unique. The gameplay does fall short, but the editors are top-notch, and if you are creative, the editors alone might justify the cost. If you are all about gameplay, expect to be disappointed by Spore’s simplicity. To appreciate it, you have to look at the game as a whole, rather than its individual parts. This doesn’t mean there’s not a lot to like about Spore. Watch for Will Wright and Spore in the future; the concept is solid, so all that is needed is a better implementation.