By Chris Wood
The computer game SPORE was just released to large acclaim by the overall gaming journalist community, with the exception of Ben Croshaw and some very critical Germans. They claim that it lives up to the hype that had been built up over the years. It is a simulation of life, and its ultimate goal is that of reaching out into stars. But it fails at this many times during the game; mainly with the jumps between stages jarring and not maintaining a sense of gradual evolution. Plus the fact that SPORE has the depth of a kiddie game at best, and the depth of a web flash game at worst, leaves it with a bit of a dumbed down feeling. This is a let-down in the final stage of the game where, for me, it completely fell apart.
The promise of SPORE was that one could take a singlecelled organism and evolve (or intelligently design) it into a sentient, space-faring species. To its credit, the design tools allow you to create a large amount of various multi-colored creatures and their various toys, but it doesn’t allow you to experience the evolution from sea-creature to land-walker. Nor does it allow you to create a race of intelligent sea-dwellers. The fact that this limit exists is contradictory to the freedom that the games creator, Will Wright, touts so much in his design. This type of forced change in gameplay is a problem throughout the game, and one cannot escape the conclusion that he may be holding back for the eventual horde of SPORE expansion packs, which should not even be coming out given the length of time that this spent in development. And speaking of the development cycle, the gameplay for a game that took this long to come out is simplistic to the point of almost being condescending. To progress through a stage in the game, all one does is repeat one action over and over again; that’s it. And once the bar is filled up, one can progress on to the next grind-quest of the game. The final stage is more open compared to the others, but with the amount of clutter it throws at you, it’s a disappointing mess. From what it should be — a grand view of space and freedom to explore the stars, it turns into a micro-manage fest that won’t let you check out the stars and your neighbors without demanding your attention every five minutes. It’s really a shame because this game had promise to be great, and it just settled for infuriating mediocrity.