|Dev: Maxis Software|
|Pub: Electronic Arts|
|Release: April 26, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
Playing the game in co-op mode makes the game way more fun. You can play with one to four players, and each additional player gives you a hefty XP and item boost. It also ups the difficulty of the enemies, but overall the game becomes much easier with a few buddies around. Still, there is a bit of grinding involved, so be prepared.
At level 10 you unlock PvP mode, and I didn't have fun with this mode. Moreover, I haven't met anyone who has had fun with this mode yet! There are no balancing mechanics involved. Anyone, of any level or any skill, can go up against anyone else. This means that more often than not you'll either destroy your opponent or they will destroy you. Oh, who am I kidding, more often than not you just get destroyed. There's no real point or purpose to PvP either. Sure you got bragging rights and all, but co-op is just more fun.
The presentation of the game is nothing special. The best graphics can actually be found in the character editor. The environments are all kind-of bland. You just hop from generic sci-fi stereotype planet to generic sci-fi stereotype planet, and it never gets much more interesting than that. A couple of my friends tell me I'm being too hard on the game and that some of the environments are pretty, but let me say this. I didn't like Avatar. I don't want pretty, I want interesting, and I didn't get interesting.
The sound is okay, but that's all it is. There's a little voice work in the heroes' grunts and catch phrases, but not much. The music is similarly nothing special. It's good quality, but it kind of feels like stock sci-fi adventure music.
Now I know I'm coming down a little hard on the game, so let me wrap this all up in one neat package. Darkspore is fun. There are lots of flaws with it, but at the end of the day it's still fun. The character customization options really stand out, and the feeling that you actually have such massive control over your stats, abilities, and even eyeballs, is really enjoyable. Sure, the game never gets to the level of depth that games such as Baldur's Gate or Diablo get to, but it's a decent diversion when all is said and done.
But that's all it really is, a fun diversion. Maxis really doesn't have the whole "storytelling" thing down yet, and a couple serious errors in pacing and online play prevent this game from becoming a classic. Most likely, we will all have some fun with this game for two to three months, and then the community will dry out as we start waiting for other big action RPGs to be released. If you are interested, you might as well pick it up now while there's still a thriving online community. You could do a lot worse, but you could do a lot better. I wouldn't regret buying the game, but I certainly wouldn't be missing anything if I didn't.
I think we have to just admit to ourselves that Spore and Darkspore are really not the grandiose sim-everything games Maxis wanted. They are just fun little wastes of time, and there's nothing wrong with that.
Angelo M. D’Argenio
CCC Contributing Writer