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Jan 15, 2008

Playing with Spore%26rsquo;s electronic clay nearly a year ago, we were struck by just how complete the character creation tools were. Spore%26rsquo;s remit, to take a species from microbe to UFO, may be massive but back then it felt ready, and real. Stretching out flesh, bolting on limbs, arranging faces- it all worked.

Then, nothing. The game went back into development. New hires (Soren Johnson, the lead designer of Civilization 4 was the last high-profile addition), and no news pointed to a game in trouble. It%26rsquo;s understandable. Spore offers six stages of life to play with: beginning as a microbe, you%26rsquo;ll swim around in primordial soup, dodging other microbes. Eating other nasties accrues DNA points, which, once you%26rsquo;ve reached a certain %26lsquo;score,%26rsquo; enable you to access the first creature editor. Graft on a face, legs and teeth to your microbial stain, and you%26rsquo;re able to leave the sea.