Spore

We take a look at one of the most conceptually fantastic games the world has ever seen...

You don't need us to tell you that E3 is packed full of more games than you can shake an outsize third-party joypad at - an awful lot of which are follow-ups to earlier titles or clones of already-proven franchises.

But amid the sometimes tired deluge of sequels and copycat adventure games featuring 'gangsters' who steal cars and shoot innocent pedestrians, there can be hidden gems.

Will Wright's Spore is such a gem. Locked away in a dark, compact demo room behind the main hustle and bustle of the show floor, this is quite possibly the most impressive game at E3.

Developed for PC, at its core Spore is a strategy game revolving around the development of your species, then the development of your civilisation and then your continual exploration through a universe so staggering in size, you could literally play it forever and still only see a tiny part of it.

So you start with a simple amoeba and develop it into a unique creation by combining a collection of shapes and limbs.

You can create a creature of almost infinite diversity thanks to the unique shape generation system that allows you to stretch and scale each part, and then when you're done creates the creature and even correctly identifies and animates crucial joints and limbs. It's quite impressive.

But it doesn't end there.

Next, as you breed these odd creatures, a sense of personality, community and culture develops requiring you to create their civilisation. You do this in a similar way to before, using base shapes and stretching and combining them to create a truly individual world.

But then what?

Well, your creatures will eventually develop transport, allowing you to leave the gates of your kingdom and explore the outside world. At which point you'll eventually stumble across other creatures and civilisations generated at random by the computer.

You will marvel at the vastly different look and behaviour of the creatures and look on in wonder at how different their city is to yours. And then you'll conquer them.

But not necessarily using weapons - you can conquer them via other routes such as economic power and dependency, for instance. But mostly, to be safe, you'll want to kill them. This is a life simulation after all and what does life seem to do best? That's right, destroy other life.

Many games would stop here, but not Spore. Moving on, you'll soon discover flight and space travel and, rather than traversing the globe on your buggy, you can view the whole world from space.

Zooming out further you can see your solar system and even explore other planets, although that's only fun when using your spacecraft to abduct species back on earth and then drop them on to a non-atmospheric planet and watch them explode.

Eventually you can upgrade your craft so that it can construct colonies on planets lacking an atmosphere and, more impressively, you can buy a 'Genesis' upgrade that can turn a dead planet into one with an atmosphere and full ecosystem - just like in one of those late-Shatner-era Star Trek films.

In doing this you can colonise other dead planets and move your species around a bit. But why stop there? Why not zoom out further and view all the stars in your star system? And then zoom out to see the entire galaxy? Not enough? Then zoom out further and see a universe full of galaxies.

Each of the hundreds of thousands of stars that exist when you're fully zoomed out can be explored. You can go anywhere and each solar system is different - some with life, some without.

You search for life by hovering your radio wave sensor over a star system - if you hear noise, something is there. You can then go there and explore, see the different type of creature and collect its data, and then either leave again or kill everyone, colonising the planet for yourself.

The point, though, is that there are hundreds of thousands of star systems being generated by the game, many with life on them. And given the unique way different creatures can be generated in this game, you're never going to see the same thing twice.

The computer will randomly generate species and, considering the sheer size and scale of the game, you could be seeing new creatures on new planets in this game for the rest of your life - this really will be the game that will never end.

This is not speculation. We've seen this running and, soon, so will you. The only question is - how is Will Wright ever going to justify a sequel?

Topics

We recommend