Spore review

  • Gorgeous game world
  • Extremely enjoyable audio
  • Charming as all get-out
  • Rudimentary gameplay
  • Lack of direction
  • Where's the autosave?


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.

Best regards,


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)

More Info

Release date: Sep 07 2008 - DS (US)
Available Platforms: PC, Xbox, PSP, DS, PS2, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii
Genre: Strategy
Published by: EA GAMES, Electronic Arts
Developed by: Maxis
ESRB Rating:
Everyone 10+: Animated Blood, Comic Mischief, Fantasy Violence
PEGI Rating:
Rating Pending


  • Muddawg90210 - April 29, 2014 4:50 p.m.

    Where is the PS3 version
  • wulibo - February 24, 2011 4:20 a.m.

    still my favorite game of all time, despite how bad the Mac version works.
  • coratican45 - May 12, 2010 10:17 p.m.

    Also, keep in mind that, although space stage is a little boring at first, once you get more into the game, it gets more intriguing, although it does take awhile.
  • coratican45 - May 12, 2010 10:12 p.m.

    You know, Space stage is actually pretty hard. And the game does put more emphasis on creativity. I think it's worth it.
  • narutofreak1 - December 17, 2009 11:12 p.m.

    im thinking about getting this game... yes im definitly getting this game.
  • Kingpin - October 31, 2008 2:40 p.m.

    I bought this game, and its really not all that great
  • RawOysters - October 29, 2008 3:57 a.m.

    I was very disappointed in this game. The heavy handed DRM aside, it was very simplistic and somewhat childish. I expected a much more scientific based game that would be a challenge. Instead I got a kids game that was boring as hell. Felt like I wasted $50. Would not ever consider wasting money on an expansion. Gave it to my 10 year old nephew.
  • Supernose - October 15, 2008 8:39 a.m.

    Looks like a good game, I just wish I had been told that Online Activation Required before my wife bought it for my birthday and sent it to me while I'm Deployed. Now I've stare at it and wait another month to play it.
  • hostile17 - September 25, 2008 7:18 p.m.

    I read this review in PC Gamer and was not surprised that they have already dropped their short lived "DRM Warning" labels. I am sure EA is a huge advertiser with them, and I notice they had some exclusive Dragon Age material in this month's issue. As evidenced by the review bombing at Amazon, gamers take this seriously, it is sad that PC Gamer feels they have to not upset their advertisers. I won't be renewing my subscription next time around, the net has more up to date info any way.
  • infinite doo - September 14, 2008 8:26 p.m.

    I played this game a crapton since it came out and all the way through it is awesome. However, you have to play your strengths; if youre a carnivore, be EVIL or else everyone will destroy you, If youre social, be NICE or everyone will pwn your weak creature; and if you try do do omnivore and don't immediately get owned youre better than me because I tried to do it but it labeled me as carnivore in creature stage, then social in tribe, so i got stuck with a religious society (NOT my style) and then ecologist in space. Also, make sure you save A LOT because the game will NEVER save for you, so if you die or royally screw up an alliance (don't ever go to war if you can help it until you have upgraded all the weapons to lvl 2) then youre just screwed. I had to replay 5 hours of gameplay because I forgot to save and decided to do so just after an assault on an enemy planet. however there were so many ships my comp pulled me out of the game, and when I put my cursor over the top left of my screen I got the spore cursor even though all I could see was my desktop, and the game was paused so they didnt kill me, but there was no way to switch back from the desktop to spore and I had to turn off my comp to fix it. and that was just after I had gotten all the lvl 2 weps and lvl 4 health =(
  • Yo2252 - September 12, 2008 10:05 p.m.

    I hope like hell this game works on mac.
  • djsizzlefresh - September 12, 2008 8:01 p.m.

    Spore is PIMPIN
  • KING_RUBE - September 11, 2008 1:18 p.m.

    I bought the game yesterday - here's my quick thoughts. At first i thought it was quite short because i gt to the space stage within a day (apparent last stage in game) only to find out that what took me a day to do on one planet i would have to do to a whole universe to even think about completing the game. its actually an endless game i feel that it mite just beat the sims in the best game of all time, its got way to much potential not to, it doesn't get boring like the sims does. That's why no body is going to see me for a very long time i will be in me room with my fridge TV and mac book with spore burning through the driver. 5 ***** stars - defiantly a very impressive game. K.R.
  • lordkemo - September 9, 2008 6:55 p.m.

    Tyler, Thanks for the reply. PC Gamer has been a favorite of mine for a long time. I am wondering though if there was a reason that the extremely restrictive DRM was not put into the review? Do you guys consider it to not be part of the game? I'm not accusing, just wondering.
  • lordkemo - September 9, 2008 12:57 p.m.

    Please review every part of the game. I have read on many forums and websites about how EA will, as of now, only allow 3 installs of this game total, unless you call them to get permission. Don't you think this is an important part of the game? I mean your computer gamers, don't you have to uninstall and reinstall games all the time. How did this little fact get missed? You say in your review that you can hardly find anything wrong with the game. I though you guys were going to release information about games that contain DRM? I hope this was more of an honest mistake as opposed to not wanting to lose those EA dollars.
  • Crossfire66 - September 6, 2008 12:30 a.m.

    Spore actually looks so fun that it might be the first "real" PC game i buy.
  • Kyon - September 5, 2008 11:45 p.m.

    Ah, so it's actually out, then? Thought this day would never come. I wonder if the DS version's as good.
  • georgeguy - September 5, 2008 10:45 p.m.

    WHERES the AUTO SAVE?? lol nice review awsome game but my comp sucks so got to pray for a ps3 version
  • Crossleft501 - September 5, 2008 7:30 p.m.

    been waitin on this game for the last 4 years and looks like it was worth it for the most part
  • Wizrai - September 5, 2008 7 p.m.

    Very long, but very objective. Love it.

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