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Saturday, 6 September 2008

SPORE Review

Sorry for the 3 week absence; life has been busy-  ah screw it.  You know that I don't give a damn and I know that you don't give a damn; the reason why you're reading this is because your either at work and bored out of your bloody mind or you've got some serious mental issues.

Now that we've got that over and done with, it's a game review!  Yay!  When was the last time I've had one of these?*

*Answer:  Last one was the Mario Kart Wii Review in April.

For those who have lived under a frickin' boulder for the last 5/6 years, SPORE is Will Wright's next game after the cash-cow that the Sims have become.  First shown a while ago (a long while ago) at GDC it quickly become one of my own (and plenty others) most look-forward to game.  The whole concept seems mind-blowing, it could've been five different games but no.  Its all packaged in one single game.  A damn good one at that.

It didn't really provide the seamless evolutionary advancing that Will Wright was boasting but it does a damn good job.  Splitting it into stages makes it more casual-friendly and is much easier to have a favourite stage that you can jump into easily.  The 5 stages are: Cell, Creature, Tribe, Civilisation and Space.  Here's a little summary of each and what I thought of them:


Cell:  What I thought was going to be the most boring stage but it turned out quite well.  Things just worked as you ate more and more things.  And payback was literally a bitch in this one as it was amazingly gratifying when you devour a creature that was larger than you previously.  I found numerous times where I was playing through this stage and was shouting:  "HOW'D YOU LIKE THAT, HUH?"  and "SUCK IT, BITCH!" or something along those lines.  All in the name of good fun...

Cell is quite fun.  Nothing to complicated, which is good to start the game with.

Creature:  This is arguably one of my favourite stages.  It's a step up from cell definitely.  You have more things to consider and you finally get a 3D space to roam around in.  Changing your creature is seamless; all you have to find is a mate.  Which is much easier in SPORE than in real life, mind.  It consists of just clicking a "Mating Call" button and heading towards your nest.  Simple.  At first, the other creatures that are close to your nest are pretty weak (probably that way deliberating to ease players into this stage).  But about halfway through the stage, it requires you to move nests.  I'm still not sure why, since the one we were using next to the sea was fine I reckon.  Maybe we had defiled that nest so much with the "making babies eggs" and other things.  Oh and if you explore around, this should be the first stage where you'll get to meet an epic creature.  Named appropriately as it's basically a giant version of a creature.  And it can be any creature on that current planet, which means there can be some crazy results.  Another thing I liked about this stage -and that Will Wright boasted about several several several times- was the community features.  It uses other creatures made by some other players (or your own sometimes) to populate your world.  Which means the game has an endless amount of creatures to use so you'll hardly ever meet the same one twice.

Yes, upside-down creatures are possible.  As well as penis creatures it seems...

Tribe:  This is when things started getting a bit... iffy.  It basically plays like something like Age of Empires but stripped down to it's basic elements.  You can gather food, fight, hunt, fish(if you have the tools) etc.  The purpose of this stage is to either conquer the other villages or ally them.  And I've found that allying them is much easier whereas conquering takes a heavy toll on your numbers (which starts at 6 and eventually maxes out at 12).  Although it seems to drive you towards conquering as it seems much to easy to make them angry at you.  Then it requires an offering of food to allow you to even begin allying them, oh and you do that by equipping the members of your tribe with instruments and playing a note-hitting mini-game for their pleasure.  But that's not what bugs me most, it's just that they always come at the most awkward times to raid your village (when I'm trying to ally another village, or attacking one - basically when most of my tribe is out).  Now, I'm unsure if this is clever AI seeing as they can tell when your village is unoccupied or if it's just a way to rack up the difficulty artificially.  But it doesn't become such a big problem as the game gives a notice when the raiding party sets off from the enemy village.  The only potential problem I can see is if you have the slowest creature in the world and it'll take you forever to get back.  Overall, this stage has it's ups and downs and certainly plays well.  Although it seems dumbed down a bit so most people (people who don't normally play games, or people who tried to play this after playing the Sims) can get through it.

A music mini-game.  Yes, that's how you get people to like you.

Civilisation:  This is the stage that I'm more meh on.  It does the job well, but I feel it's pretty similar to Tribe phase just with some new mechanics.  Your village becomes your city, your tribe members become your vehicles etc.  Now though, food is no-longer the currency.  It's Spice.  Yes, the thing you sometimes place on your food is coveted by Sporians from all over the galaxy.  And you obtain this from Spice geysers that are on your planet by using your vehicles to click on them.  At first your limited to land vehicles, then sea vehicles and then finally air.  Obviously, you'd need to be next to the sea to make sea vehicles.  At first, this stage is a real pain in the ass.  Then after you obtain 4 cities, you get air vehicles.  It's just a matter of building a fuckton of them now and rushing every city one at a time.  Yes, my eventual strategy was just forcefully obtaining cities by building the most air units I can and blitzing each city one at a time.  It's a shame really, as this stage had quite a lot of promise.

This could be your city!  Or you could have a city of penis buildings... the possibilities are endless!

Space:  The final frontier phase.  The stage where most people would be spending their time, it brings an absolutely boundless longevity to the game.  This is where the game comes into it's own.  You can literally do anything after the tutorial (which you can skip), provided you had the tools that is.  I haven't unlocked every tool yet, but what I have does look promising.  You can sculpt planets, carve out canyons, raise mountains, create oceans.  Additionally, you can change the colour of the land, sea or sky.  And finally you can change the temperature and density of the atmosphere of the planet.  This is the most important factor, as it's the one that decides whether creatures and plants can reside on that particularly planet.  There are different tools to do all these things, and seeing as you'll be unlocking them only occasionally, so you're not overwhelmed by them.  You'll obviously encounter alien races (notably one race that seems to act as the galaxy super-power and occupy the centre of the galaxy), and you can choose to be friends or enemies.  If you become friends, you can open trade routes or form alliances (doing so will grant you one of their ships to join you as a side-kick of sorts - meaning you'll eventually have a whole spaceship posse to wreck havoc on planets on).  And if you become enemies... well, you blow the crap out of each other.  Simple, really.  BUT WAIT.  This stage also boasts the most annoying thing ever to grace this game.  Remember the thing in tribe where they would attack you while your out, well the space stage takes it to a whole new level.  It seems every five minutes, there's a call of help from a colony or ally where their are pirates, that superior race I mentioned earlier or an enemy species are attacking.  And it becomes a real pain.  I've found sometimes that I was attacking the final planet of one species and I get a notice that the same species was attacking one of mine.  Now, wouldn't it be much more intelligent to pull all your ships back and have a last stand on your final planet?  Apparently no, as I take out the few ships on the planet and destroy their civilisation.  If anyone wants a comparison, just think of it as the blue shell from Mario Kart Wii.

Expand your empire!

Overall, the game is good.  No, scratch that.  It's great.  And out of the 5 stages, you're bound to love one of them.  Personally I love the Space stage since it gives you boundless freedom.  But I've found some people that prefer the creature stage since it's not as complicated.  Each stage gives you something different to think about.

The creators though are brilliant.  They work amazingly and I would probably pay for a game just with the creators in.  They're easy to use and really efficient.  I'd highly recommend it to anyone with some good creativity, they're remarkably easy to get a hang of.  Even if you have 5 minutes with the game, try out the creators.  It's a pro tip.

Anything that I liked is the scope of the game.  The opening cinematic is nicely done and sets you in the mood for the cell stage.  And after each stage, the camera pulls out a little.  From the tide-pool, you pull out to see a small part of the continent.  Then you pull out a bit more to see the whole continent in the tribe phase.  The camera then pulls out to the entire planet.  And finally you reach space.  There you can choose to scroll and focus on a tiny part of any planet or alternatively, you can scroll all the way out to view the whole frickin galaxy.  And you'll be wowed when you first do this.

The game also seems complete to me and not rushed.  I haven't encountered any slow down at all or frame rate problems and I'm running it on my laptop!  I've only had it crash on me twice, the first time it was my fault and the second time it was one of my friend's fault.  The first case was I wasn't running it as administrator (I'm using Vista) and after the cell phase, the first time I get into creature is freaks out on me.  For some reason I can play the cell phase without being an administrator.  The second time was an online friend (that I won't name) who decided to make many large conversations while I was playing.  I didn't know at the time since I was playing fullscreen, but when the game finally crashed the first thing I see is my taskbar filled to the brim with 50-odd conversations.  That probably overloaded my laptop and it ran out of CPU resources when loading things.

To be honest, I haven't properly finished the game.  The object of the Space phase is to reach the centre of the galaxy.  And judging by the looks of it, it'd take forever unless I decided to blitz there and ignore everything else.  Oh and apparently our solar system is in the game as well, although I have yet to find it myself.

The game also applies an achievement system, much like the achievements in 360 games.  There are the run-of-the-mill achievements for completing the phases and also some crazy ones like finding Earth or losing 5 planets.  All in all, I won't give this game a score.  As to different people, it'd have different scores.  For creative people, you'll have endless opportunities to unleash your creativity in the creators.  Whereas some less-creative people can just take some content from the creative people, if that floats your boat.  In the end, it's one of those: "You've got to try it!" games.


[EDIT]  I forgot to give you an update on what’s been going on in my life.  And I’m too lazy to make another post, so here’s an update.  Let’s get this done with quickly shall we?

  • The film we’re doing for the Meniscus Film Festival is in the editing stages.  We just got it onto the computer today in fact and was going to start editing when we were distracted by a game sale at Morrisons (my friend picked up Brawl for £15 and Guitar Hero: On Tour for £12!).
  • For anyone wondering, FUCKTARD hasn’t had an update.  It stopped at Gavin but he went on holiday and now I’m not even sure what’s going on.
  • I’m thinking of dropping Computing because I can’t be asked anymore and I’ve got enough to deal with already.  Although I may still continue for a bit just to see where it goes.  I haven’t done the project either… *sigh*  I’ll have to make something up tonight…
  • Wow, I just noticed that Twitter gadget on my blog’s sidebar.  It’s been 110 days since I’ve updated it…  Looks like it’s going to stay that way too.  :P

That about runs down my life right now.  Hectic, to say the least.  So much to do, so little time…


tajzai said...

hey how can i do a link exchange?

WJUK said...

Wait, wha?

You mean the blogroll thing?


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