|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Maxis||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Electronic Arts||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sep. 7, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
The Civilization Stage is similar to the previous mode, only on a larger scale. With the technological advancements available to your beings, you can now design land, sea, and air vehicles as well as buildings. Keeping your cities productive requires constructing a mixture of industry, residential, and entertainment buildings - and defenses, if foes get too close for comfort. This time your creatures have broken off into different competing factions, and you'll have to unify the planet through force or friendship before launching into the reaches of space. The black and white ethics continues here as well, though it's far easier (and satisfying) to build a dozen units and go wipe the planet clean of opposing factions.
It's also worth noting that all the gameplay decisions and tactics you choose to take have an impact on what kind of society your creatures evolve into in the later stages of the game. At any point, you can also open up and view a history of your species' evolution that tracks their milestones and tendencies.
When your creatures finally do leave the planet, you'll find the Space Stage to be the largest, lengthiest, and most complex section of the entire game. A few minor plot elements begin to kick in here, and exploring the vast cosmos is as open and full of potential as you might expect. There are tons of planets in countless solar systems to mold and colonize, new species and civilizations to interact with, wars to be wrought, galactic trade routes to be formed, alliances to be forged and broken, creatures to abduct, and lots more to do.
Playing through each section in order, the cool variation in perspective and graphical style becomes readily apparent. Visually, things look good through most of the evolutionary journey, but there are moments where the graphics just simply pop. There are particularly memorable moments to be found in the brief Cell Stage, where subtle creatures and unusual fluctuations in scenery are just below the surface of the foreground action. This is also true of the final Space Stage, when the beautiful sunset reflects off the shimmering ocean of the spherical planets. The creatures themselves, regardless of unique designs, are incredibly endearing. They exude personality and charm at every step of the adventure.
While some of the individual evolutionary phases in Spore are either too short or could have been further developed, the game as a whole is truly remarkable. The sacrifice in depth in some areas is disappointing, but it's not unforgivable when considering the bigger picture. No matter which way you look at it, Spore is a thought provoking gaming experience and a truly unique exercise in simulated evolution. It certainly outstrips Will Wright's previous work in terms of scope and promise; even if it falls slightly short of the mark on execution. Still, there's no reason why Spore shouldn't be on the top of your to-do list. It's time to evolve.
CCC Staff Contributor