ENJOY THE TOY
I recently interviewed Rod Humble—I’m pretty sure you know Rod, he’s the head of EA’s Sims studio (and, coincidentally, author of this month’s Game Whisperer column). He told me that he has attended focus groups comprised solely of men who regularly play The Sims—men who, even as they sit in a focus group for men who regularly play The Sims, deny regularly playing The Sims. With 100,000,000 copies of that game sold, it stands to reason that a healthy chunk of PC Gamer readers are also in that category. Even two former EICs of this magazine “played the sh*t out of The Sims,” as one of them explained it to me (pardon his French).
Above: It's chow or be chowed in Cell phase. Add body parts like spikes to make yourself less savory-looking
As it was with The Sims, it isn’t right to judge Spore in the context of so many of the other games we judge. Adding mountains to a planet needn’t “advance” the game—I’m having fun just sculpting mountains. Adding 32 guns to the spaceship I created doesn’t actually seem to improve my chances in combat—but I had a great time creating something that looked so funny. So, I can only do a couple of hours of fetch quests before I’m kind of over it—during those two hours, I have a great time. And, more important, I’m always excited to spend another two hours on it later.
Above: A Civilization phase hostile takeover. All your base are belong to us!
I wonder if most PC Gamer readers whose regular diet consists of hardcore fare—whose lives are spent on Team Fortress 2 and StarCraft tournaments—will end up playing the sh*t out of Spore (pardon my French this time). I hope they will—I certainly have been. It may not be my perfect PC game, but I think it’s well on its way to becoming one of my favorite toys. And if there’s one thing we could all use more of, it’s time to just… play.
P.S.: A Note From Our RTS Guru
In the process of creating a form of real-time strategy gameplay accessible to even RTS-averse gamers like Kristen, Spore’s Civilization phase is infuriatingly simplistic to anyone who’s accessed an RTS in the past decade. There are only three units to choose from (land, air, and sea), reducing it to a near-literal game of Rock-Paper-Scissors (in fact, someone’s probably already made units that strongly resemble rocks, paper, and scissors). Standard interface features like control groups are completely absent, and balance-wise, there isn’t even a hint of how religious or industrious societies are supposed to knock down swarms of militaristic societies’ air units. And of course, the lack of multiplayer is really going to hurt replayability, especially once you figure out that even in hard mode, the AI doesn’t bother to defend its resources. This is definitely a strategy game built for people who don’t like the things that are generally considered to make strategy games interesting. -Dan Stapleton
PC Gamer scores games on a percentage scale, which is rounded to the closest whole number to determine the GamesRadar score.
PCG Final Verdict: 91% (Editor’s choice)