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Spore - updated impressions

Oct 31, 2007

Knees shouldn't go at that angle. What's he thinking? How many mouths? We mean, surely one is enough? And what the hell is that doing there!?

Spore is a sight to behold: a strategy game made up of a cluster of gaming styles that take you from a protozoan swimming in a primordial soup to the commander of a spaceship, all in about eight hours.

We're introduced to an amoeba, a purple blob with big cute eyes squidging across a microscopic world. There's been a lot of evolving since Spore's initial showing a couple years ago. The world is sweeter, more childlike. Edges are beveled and shiny. It glows like a kid's toy.

The little purple creature is collecting DNA points, which is the currency you spend in order to evolve. To do so, changes need to be made: even at the cellular level there are a lot of enemies swarming around, and with each stage of evolution there's some necessary tweaking to be done. Spore exists for this tweaking; Will Wright's vision is of a virtual Play-Dough, which is now a little clearer in how it works.

When you're editing anything in the game, you're given free reign over the structure. The initial plan of just dragging out shapes and forming bodies has been tempered slightly: now there are anchor points to pull around, which is how, following this particular creature's swift evolution from purple blob to many footed land-crawler, we ended up with knees at an acute angle three feet behind the body and a tail somewhere near the forehead. The DNA points collected in the level are your currency: body parts cost points and they all have their relative strengths and weaknesses. The overall power of your creatures is set here, so choosing better running feet over better jumping ones, or hands over claws, sets out the strengths. At the cellular level, faster swimming bits and teeth are all that's needed.