Spore - hands-on

A few feet will begin to tap in the audience, and those suitably impressed will defect to your side - it's a bit like a Fisher-Price version of The Hunt For Red October. Once you hit the magic number 15 in your personal brat pack, you'll be free to enter a new age of buildings, cars, aeroplanes and modern-day sphincter-spyhole (or whatever) shenanigans.

The whole tribal trip lasts around an hour-and-a-half (it'll take about eight hours to get your charges all the way from amoeba to interplanetary explorers). It's all great - butwe reckon it's worth noting that this is a game that's drifted ever closer towards the mainstream market as previously unseen mechanics of gameplay have been introduced.

The dancing, the waiters, the carnivores in humorous poses - Spore has always been family-friendly, but now that's more apparent then ever before. There's a distinct saccharine smell of The Sims here.

What's more, being a hardcore PC gamer, aswe know you are, you'll likely find that, while the fundamentals of the game may have been polished to high heaven, your brain has been taxed far more heavily by titles elsewhere on your hard drive.

Although, admittedly, they may not have let you present an elephantine, bipedal omnivore with a new mouth. C'est la vie.