Spore: First Impressions [Update with screenshots]

The (very) long awaited Spore from the creator of the Sims and Sim City Will Wright has gone on sale in Australia today, with the rest of the world to follow.

I’ve only just installed the game so what follows is first impressions only, with a more complete review to follow. Also be updating this post as I progress.


Joint PC/ Mac DVD, 4GB install on the Mac. Quick on a Mac Pro.

Post install, it decides to take over both of my 22″ monitors, and none of the usual tricks seem to work in terms of forcing it into a Window. There probably is a way, just haven’t found it yet, and there’s no option in the game itself.

First stage: single cell

Boring. I can see why they offered a creature creator. You swim around eating stuff and other creatures, gradually growing and being able to add body parts. You have to avoid bigger creatures, and sometimes that can be a challenge when you end up wedged between several of them. Eventually you get to the point where you can go on land…and in my case, that meant I only had enough credit for one leg. However I did manage to hop on land.

Second stage: land

Just like with the creature creator, you have a home base, or nest if you like, with a number of the same critters like you. Graphics are good; not brilliant, perhaps slightly ahead of World of Warcraft. I presume at this stage or others you can register online and play against others…haven’t tried this yet.

You have a home map that opens up as you explore, with? appearing in the locations of other creatures. You can eat other creatures (presuming you’re a carnivore) or after the first progression level, friend them through imitating their call.

Unlike the first stage, game play offers extras, like attack options and new parts for your creature. In the carnivore mode it feels a little like World of Warcraft as well; walk around finding things to kill and/or eat to gain points towards progression.

Conclusion (so far)

It’s a solid game. You can apparently jump in at various stages so it’s easy to ignore the boring bits. Like any Maxis game, layout is well considered, and there’s that compelling need to progress. A strong point is that game play is fairly quick, for example it took me less than 20 minutes to complete the first stage. I don’t think it will win many awards, but fans won’t be disappointed.

Update 1: game play gets harder on the second level, including creatures that group hunt you. Still stuck trying to get past it.

Update 2: quit for now, will revisit tomorrow. Past a certain point in level 2, the game becomes challenging. You have to radically experiment with your creature to see what works best to overcome other creatures. Couple that with the need to discover new items via glowing bones, so in my case, I’m strong on a number of things, but I suck a singing, which is required to friend other groups. So far: love it, although getting past this point is starting to become frustrating. Might start a fresh next time and not start from level one and see if this gives me any advantages.

summary though: if you’re thinking about it, buy it.

Update 3: Command + return throws Spore into a Window.

Update 4: installed on my Macbook Pro, a lot slower than the MacPro. Discovered that you can’t jumped ahead without completing every stage…annoying, and I can’t find a Mac cheat yet. Screenshots as follows in the omnivore mode, which isn’t quite as much fun as the carnivore option, unless you prefer singing for creatures as opposed to killing them.