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Spore Preview

publisher: EA
developer: Maxis
genre: Strategy

PIV 2000, 768MB RAM, 6GB HDD, 128MB video card
ESRB rating: E

release date: Sep 07, 08
» All About Spore on ActionTrip

I guess no other game before has ever allowed you to play a 'god' the way Will Wright's Spore does. The demonstration of this unorthodox title at E3 unveiled more details about the game. Spore combines several different genres in an effort to simulate the process of evolution from the very creation of a single microbe to the galactic expansion and colonization of other worlds.

The demonstration followed the life cycles of a microscopic organism in the primordial soup, behaving according to the basic laws of nature. In its evolution, the microbe fed on smaller organisms while in the same time struggling to avoid being eaten itself (much like daily life in the ActionTrip offices -Ed.). After a while, your simple cell is allowed to evolve, which is where you can access the creature editor and perform certain modifications on your creature. Further evolution of your creature will turn it into multicellular, more complex living form, which will do its best to obey the simple rules of 'eat or be eaten.' After it's evolved enough, your creature will finally be able to lay an egg and decide about the direction in which the next generation of your creature is going to evolve. This process allows a lot of freedom, leaving the specific attributes you'd want to ascribe to the creature to your own imagination. The most interesting thing about it is that, no matter how you decide to design your creature, the AI will take care your creature, including how it is animated and making sure it behaves according to its bodily modifications. Even if you go wild with the number of eyes or legs, the animation will always respect the rules you've set. It's amazing that the most improbable creatures look real and very believable. If you eventually decide to get rid of your creature's fins and replace them with legs, the game will continue on land and the creature will be forced to fight for survival. On the other hand, as Wright suggested, you may decide never to leave the water and build an underwater kingdom instead, with the race of super intelligent dolphins. (So that's what the sneaky bastards have been planning all along. That explains why the dolphins have been so eager to befriend us.)

Once you have turned into an advanced form of life, the game will shift into 3D and continue on by putting new challenges before your creature. The world you'll move in will be inhabited by other creatures needed to complement the food chain and the biosphere of your planet. Every creature is uploaded to an online server, the role of which is to populate your world with fitting creatures. The thing is, all that you've created will be available for other players to see (in case you're connected to the Internet), and you will even get to see how your creations stack up against other players' creatures online.

But let's get back to the game. At this stage, your creature learns new things and gains new experiences the combination of which eventually leads to learning new behavior patterns and strategies. The strengths and weaknesses of each creature are in balance with their environment and other creatures that inhabit the world, meaning no creature has any apparent advantage or disadvantage over the other. Slowly, your creature will progress through several generations, engaging in the fight for survival by fulfilling its basic needs, mating, and trying to avoid being exterminated. It's quite simple, really. Evolution will prove to be an unstoppable process, slowly taking the game to the tribe level and introducing other features. Instead of concentrating solely on one creature, you are now allowed to assume control over the entire tribe, forming a primitive community and maybe even engaging in a conflict with rival tribes (Like France -Ed.). It was awkward and yet quite normal to watch the three-legged alligators or whatever they are gather fruit; the entire premise seemed rather fun and inventive, despite the fact it simply translated the authentic evolution of life on Earth into a video game. (OK, I am pretty sure the three-legged alligator bitches weren't that common in those days, but that's just my assumption. As far as we know, the history as we know it may be completely wrong.)

In any case, the demonstration made it obvious further advancements are possible for your tribe. The many upgrades you'll be able to purchase with time will help your small tribe advance into a full-grown civilization, where a lot of micromanagement will be involved, and you will need to build the infrastructure. The editor is multifunctional, so it will allow you to purchase and organize buildings, but also to buy different weapons or manage your finances.

The gameplay will gradually increase in scale and scope, granting you control over an entire civilization. The contact with other civilizations is maintained through many aspects, where building a strong military force is just one of the means that will help you make your civilization prosper. Your race will evolve further, making economical, cultural, and technological advancement that will eventually lead to your building ships and eventually space ships, continuing your exploration of the living world and the expansion of your race onto other planets. All the time, the extent of freedom you are granted in creating your race and your cities, as well as in modeling your civilization, is amazing.

In your exploration of the universe, you'll come upon planets created by other players, which are uploaded to the server. You will be able to choose the peaceful approach or the military approach, which will result in either war or some kind of alliance. If the planet is uninhabited, you will be able to colonize it, thus expanding your influence in the galaxy. Every planet is distinctively different from others, and there's no way of telling what you will encounter on it.

The possibility to colonize other planets and even abduct alien forms of life is only a small detail in the ultimate struggle of your race to dominate the entire universe. Somewhere between the one-cellular stage and the terraforming of distant planets, your ambitious race has definitely become a bit megalomaniac. One must admit that the entire concept of creating life and watching it evolve through many different stages sounds incredibly addictive (or very boring depending on how fast the game moves -Ed.), leaving the player so many possibilities to experience and so many things to explore on so many levels. Wright's Spore will tend to merge a life-simulator with strategic, management, RTS, and other elements in order to create a unique gaming experience dedicated to the evolution of a single microbe into an intelligent, technologically advanced creature bent on conquering the universe. Judging from what we've seen, taking part in this complex process will be an interesting experience.



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