First impressions of Spore

I loaded up Spore last night for the first time and played for about two hours, here are my first impressions and some screenshots.

Spore is touted as an open ended game where you can form your species in to pretty much anything you want, from tree hugging hippies who dance and sing and generally make everyone nausious to murderious bloodthirsty predators who eat the hippies for breakfast.

I decided early on that my species would be a warmongering genocidal carnivorous race of predators hell bent on ridding the world (universe) of all other life forms in the most violent way possible, I think maybe I just need a hug.

Anyway, I was well on my way to this goal as my first single celled organism formed and began hunting for prey. The first stage of the game revolves around finding food (chunks of meat floating the primordial ooze) and other single celled organisms in order to take their traits, you can also find body parts or DNA by eating parts of the meteor which crashed in to the planet you inhabit and began the cycle of life.

My first creature, pictured here was built for destruction. The huge spikes are a self defence mechanism (I wasn’t the biggest fish in the pond, and the bigger ones all wanted to eat me!) and a double mouth, all the better to eat you with my dear.

Spore_2008-09-03_22-00-53

During this phase you are constantly reminded that you are not the biggest fish in the pond, you can see the blurring giant organism in the background in the image above but luckily there are layers of life in this phase so something that big doesn’t care about eating me, yet.

After chowing down on cow like prey for about 10 minutes and discovering the ability to spit poison and shoot lightning out my butt, I evolved to a land based being, dragging myself from the ooze on to dry land. Thus the Creature phase began.

The Creature phase isn’t that different from the single celled phase, you hunt, you kill, you eat, you evolve. There is another dimension in this phase where you can attempt to use social skills (Song, Dance, Charm) to befriend other species and have them join your tribe. I attempted this several times but my “built to kill” creature, pictured below (in various states of evolution), was not build for dancing so I just ate their faces instead, same end result, sort of.

CRE_Meatbag-06e90ec8_ful CRE_Meatbag-06e90ecb_ful Spore_2008-09-03_22-21-29 Spore_2008-09-03_22-46-01

The aim of this phase if to befriend or destroy other species as you make your way around the landmass, each new conquest give you DNA and body parts with which to build on your own creature to make them a better fighter, tree hugger or somewhere in between, whatever floats your boat.

The sense of achievement is done in a way that it keeps you going without getting bored of doing the same thing over and over, each new genocide you inflict yields some new DNA for you to build on your creature, be it a new mouth, legs, feet, opposable thumbs, bigger brain, lightning shooting butt attachment or whatever. I think in the two hours I played I spent about equal time in the creature designer and chewing on other creatures livers.

As I practiced and became more familiar with the creature creator my species (which I named Meatbag) got more and more intricate and changed designs in quite radical ways as I found new body parts and discovered different ways the designer allowed me to fiddle with the anatomy (oh, that sounds wrong) of the new life form.

Here is the final result so far, the yellow weirdo on the left (as oppose to the pink weirdo on the right) was my first attempt at a sentient pac-man, failed..I’ll try again when I have some morebody parts.

Spore_2008-09-03_23-52-05 Spore_2008-09-04_00-00-46

You can see more screens in the gallery, click below:

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EDIT: The Spore official site is actually pretty cool and includes a personal page which documents your own creatures evolution, the animation below isn’t clickable, which is odd, but you can subscribe to the RSS feed for my creatures. Here we go, a link to all my creatures and my profile.
 
EDIT 2: It seems that my stupid ball thing with spikes has been Eclipsed by some absolutely amazing creations, check these out, they’re all made in the creature creator: 
 
EDIT 3: There’s a lot of internet hate at the moment for the game, and I do agree with some of it, here’s a great post from the SA forums which sum it up pretty well.
This game is horrible. I cannot believe that this simple shit is the result of five years and who knows how many millions of development dollars. Here’s the whole thing:

Cell stage:
Swim around, eat meat or plants.
Eat enough meat/plant, get a little bigger.
Kill cells that have something you don’t, get their DNA.
Repeat until you are about ready to barf.
I liked it better when it was called O’DELL LAKE.

Creature stage:
Run around collecting little DNA bits out of skeletons.
Meet a new creature either a) eat them and they go extinct or b) try to impress them and usually fail because it’s really tough to get the right skills for each one.
Stick on more parts that you have found.

Tribal stage:
Plunk down city buildings.
Gather food.
Go to to other tribes and either dance/sing to impress them or kill them.

Civilization stage:
EASILY the least sense-making portion of the game.
Convert other cities using religion or economics or just military force, it’s all very wtf, generally.

Space stage:
Fly on uninspired missions to do boring things.

It’s fucking tragic, and not really fun for any length of time. You will never have enough DNA to really make a complicated awesome creature the way you want, it will always be this complete pain in the ass to try to balance what you WANT with WHAT IS NEEDED TO SURVIVE. Creating the minor works of complicated art like in the CC is really not possible.

and
Fable was at least sort of fun on its own merits.

Unless you’re autistic with the creature creator this… not so much.

I agree with most of that (so far, I’m only up to creature stage, but luckily I am autistic with the creature creator, how long that will last remains to be seen.
 
…and the final word to all the nerd ragers claiming they have once again been deceived by famous game designers (from NEOGAF):
 
Exactly! It’s clear to me that many people here approach the game completely wrong and have totally different expectations from it than was ever promised to begin with. No wonder you hear many negative comments. This game is first and foremost about creation. Creating your own world and sharing it with others. It was also very clear beforehand that this game would consist of completely different gameplay styles. No wonder it doesn’t feel contiguous. It isn’t exactly supposed to be.

This is no hardcore evolution sim, strategy game, or tycoon. It’s all about creation, exploration, socalizing and simple fun. No more, no less.

 

To put it more succinctly:

This game is not COD4.