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Spore Review

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September 18, 2008 1:50:35 PM

Review by Travis Meacham.

Spore, Will Wright's much-hyped follow-up franchise to The Sims, is finally out. Casting the DRM controversy aside for now we take a critical look at this highly-anticipated PC exclusive that takes gamers from cells to space.

http://www.tomsgames.com/us/2008/09/18/spore_review/

More about : spore review

September 18, 2008 3:01:11 PM

Someone who doesn't like The Sims and Spore? ? ? ?

Shame on you!

J/K

I hated the Sims, I don't want a game where I watch someone else listen to music and watch tv, and I haven't been the least interested in spore since I tried the creature creator. I am wondering how much flak you might catch from other posters though.
September 18, 2008 4:49:03 PM

Were you able top register and create a game account? Did you get access to the online content? You make no mention. I bought the game and it is now 3 weeks and the only reply I get is that the serial/game key appears invalid and my registration is rejected. EA is no help only saying they know they have a problem but have no time frame to fix or explanation of the cause. I give the game a 3.5 score as one of the major disappointments of the year.
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September 18, 2008 5:49:10 PM

Quote:
Were you able top register and create a game account? Did you get access to the online content? You make no mention. I bought the game and it is now 3 weeks and the only reply I get is that the serial/game key appears invalid and my registration is rejected. EA is no help only saying they know they have a problem but have no time frame to fix or explanation of the cause. I give the game a 3.5 score as one of the major disappointments of the year.

Poor Travis, I don't think it's possible for you to give a bad enough review of any game without getting criticized for not rating it bad enough. Maybe your scale should just be -1 to -10 pointing out only how bad every game is.
September 18, 2008 6:22:17 PM

A fair review, i think. Spore tries to be everything and ends up being nothing. Not to mention the horrible DRM.
September 18, 2008 6:22:45 PM

I haven't played it yet (I won't unless I find it in a bargain bin for less than $10), but I know someone who has. They gave it a 5 out of 10 - in the same ballpark as your score.

Unlike so much of the "must buy" hype that seems to have been bought and paid for to maximize release day sales -

thanks for an honest review. Its so rare nowadays.
September 18, 2008 6:33:02 PM

Quote:
everything and ends up being nothing.

I certainly woudn't call the game nothing. It falls short in a lot of areas and because of the massive scope of what this game tries to cover there is a lot left to be desired. But I wouldn't say the game is nothing. I've only played through first two stages and there's definetly some value there. The amount of customization alone is something of note.
September 18, 2008 6:42:58 PM

"some value there" isn't exactly high praise for a game that has 31 out 33 reviews at gamerankings at 80% or higher.

I'm just getting so sick of reviews that are designed to sell first, analyze second.
September 18, 2008 7:07:23 PM

I haven't played all of the game and can hardly give a comprihensive evaluation. I've also skipped parts of Travis' review because I'd rather experience the game unbiased since I'm already playing it. I'm not about to say the game is a 8, 9 or 10. But I've seen enough to know it's more than nothing. Your right that there are a lot of reviewers who inflate scores to please publishers which is why I try to avoid using them to influence my purchases. But even worse are the user reviews and comments which often times come from people who've never even played the game.
September 18, 2008 11:22:57 PM

I might check it out if I can find it for sale for around $20 or $30. I have a feeling I'll enjoy it for what it is. I liked the Sims 2, even though I barely played it. And of course, SimCity is awesome even though I haven't played that since SimCity 2000. I think one of the things these games are missing is a fun multiplayer component. Like two-player cooperative or competitive modes. The Sims Bustin Out for consoles had a simple multiplayer feature, but somehow it made the game more fun to me.
September 19, 2008 11:32:24 PM

To me the most fun in spore is the creature creator. There is almost an infinite number of combinations possible.
The space part of the game is highly repetitive once you have 20 or so systems colonized and 99,99,999 spore bucks. After that point is reached you protect your colonies from attacks from the Grox and pirates, try to stop eco-disasters and explore the galaxy to either make allies, remain neutral or make enemies and destroy your enemies' colonies on their planets, including the Grox. I have seen no end to the extent of the Grox area of influence.
September 20, 2008 12:57:10 AM

purplerat said:
Quote:
everything and ends up being nothing.

I certainly woudn't call the game nothing. It falls short in a lot of areas and because of the massive scope of what this game tries to cover there is a lot left to be desired. But I wouldn't say the game is nothing. I've only played through first two stages and there's definetly some value there. The amount of customization alone is something of note.


It falls short because of the horrible DRM, simple. Spore was cracked the very same day it was released. Hit the stores in the morning, cracked in the evening. Sad. The 3 install drm does nothing against piracy, only make it so that people who actually paid for it can't use it. The crackers rewrite the drm so that it doesn't exist in their games, but you have to deal with it in your paid copies. :na: 
September 20, 2008 3:52:11 PM

Farrwalker said:
To me the most fun in spore is the creature creator. There is almost an infinite number of combinations possible.
The space part of the game is highly repetitive once you have 20 or so systems colonized and 99,99,999 spore bucks. After that point is reached you protect your colonies from attacks from the Grox and pirates, try to stop eco-disasters and explore the galaxy to either make allies, remain neutral or make enemies and destroy your enemies' colonies on their planets, including the Grox. I have seen no end to the extent of the Grox area of influence.


Just get to the center of the galaxy and finish the game. The space stage should be torn apart and re-made. The micro-management it demands is horrible. Manually add every single turret destroyed in every colony of every system? Riiiiiiiiight....
September 22, 2008 8:37:16 AM

Sounds like they've got a good basic idea, but it's not quite been executed properly.

Spore 2 should be awesome :) 
September 22, 2008 10:34:24 AM

I have played through all of spore, and I have to agree in the most part with the review.
Basically, the creature and vehicule creators are awsome tools and the global spore universe is imo rather well made and functional, regardless of wether one likes the cute tones selected by the game.
However, the gameplay on each game phase is terribly poor and needs to be drastically reworked. I think the worst one for me was the civilization stage, but all of them need to be reworked to provide a decent gaming experience and to allow for more possibilities.
Beside, I feel that the connectivity between each phase, and the consequences one phase should have on the other should also be increased.
Overall, I was disapointed with spore, it provided much and had impressive ambitions, but in the end, maybe beacuse of the scope of those ambitions or because it is too casual friendly, it failed to deliver.

On a side note, the space stage was not without remembering me of the games Elite and Wing Commander Privateer whitch I both enjoyed back in the days. Unfortunately the game is botched in spore, but I would really like to see the same kind of game up to modern standards and well realised .
September 22, 2008 3:38:45 PM

dagger said:
It falls short because of the horrible DRM, simple. Spore was cracked the very same day it was released. Hit the stores in the morning, cracked in the evening. Sad. The 3 install drm does nothing against piracy, only make it so that people who actually paid for it can't use it. The crackers rewrite the drm so that it doesn't exist in their games, but you have to deal with it in your paid copies. :na: 


[sarcasm]Wow dagger you really hit the nail on the head. There hasn't been any discussion of Spore's DRM. I never thought about it that way![/sarcasm]

But there actually is a difference between evaluating gameplay and arguing some extraneous element like DRM, price packaging etc. It's unfair to try and diminish the actual gameplay as being "nothing" because you don't like some seperate aspect that has nothing to do with the actual gameplay. There are plenty of threads discussing Spore's DRM so why not just leave it out of a true discussion of the games actual gameplay and content.

September 23, 2008 10:18:19 AM

Purple - I made the same suggestion in another thread and was shouted down. Apparently DRM is "the biggest issue in PC gaming at the moment" and so every thread needs to discuss it at length.
September 23, 2008 1:17:04 PM

Well DRM is certainly an issue and it's fair to make note of it. I think Travis did an excellent job doing just that in his review. But let's not make the whole discussion about that. If somebody is really concerned about the DRM there are plenty more threads to go over that topic. But people who actually have played the game obviously have gotten past the DRM issue one way or another so there's no point in arguing it here.

Besides that I've had a tough time getting past the creature stage. Not due to difficulty but mostly because that stage it seems is the most innovative and offering the best new gameplay. The later stages seem to be much more like other games but I'm concerned that they lack the beef.
Even so I wouldn't call this a must have, especially for the hardcore gamer, but I think with the endless content and possibilities this game presents it's worth having in your collection. I own the Sims 2 and probably haven't played it in 2 years. To me games like these are always worth having even if you don't play them all the time because you can just pop them in and know that the game won't be the same-old, same-old.
September 23, 2008 8:20:14 PM

Well... a patch is out. You have to use the EA download system to get it, or you can find the exe file on the net. Let's hope some of these problems get fixed.
September 23, 2008 8:31:54 PM

Dogsnake said:
Were you able top register and create a game account? Did you get access to the online content? You make no mention. I bought the game and it is now 3 weeks and the only reply I get is that the serial/game key appears invalid and my registration is rejected. EA is no help only saying they know they have a problem but have no time frame to fix or explanation of the cause. I give the game a 3.5 score as one of the major disappointments of the year.


I have never been able to play an EA game online because I always got the invalid key or this key already in use error...

I try to avoid EA as much as possible.
September 23, 2008 8:40:15 PM

Quote:
I have never been able to play an EA game online because I always got the invalid key or this key already in use error...

Sounds like you might have a thief close by.
September 24, 2008 12:03:30 AM

purplerat said:
Quote:
I have never been able to play an EA game online because I always got the invalid key or this key already in use error...

Sounds like you might have a thief close by.


I wasn't pirating if that is what you are implying...
September 24, 2008 3:59:56 AM

Sorry I wasn't implying that you were pirating the game. But the chances that every EA title you've every bought gave an invalid/already-in-use key error are pretty slim. If you're telling the truth about that it would seem to imply that somebody is targetting you specifically to steal key codes for your EA titles. But in all honestly I'm really just joking around and I doubt every EA title you ever bought did that unless you only every bought one or maybe two and were very unfortunate.
September 24, 2008 10:41:12 PM

purplerat said:
unless you only every bought one or maybe two and were very unfortunate.


Yeah I have only bought 1 or 2, I guess I made it sound like I had gone through a bunch of them. I was kind of miffed at EA. I was so excited when I popped those disc's in and then boom ''Invalid CD-key or CD-key already in use''.. :fou:  Aaaaaarrrgh!!!!! *beats head on keyboard*
September 24, 2008 11:38:45 PM

I agree with Travis Meacham's review.
Except that I disagree with his conclusion or assumption "The Space stage has a lot of promise and I would have enjoyed all the planet development, race relations and exploration if not for the mundane trading chores, unrelenting harassment early on from enemies and awful ship-to-ship combat." Most of that sentence I agree with other than the space stage having a lot of promise.

After playing the space stage for about 6 hours and getting 14 systems in your empire and earning 99,999,999 sporebucks, the game becomes highly repetitive and boring. Sure you can destroy Grox planets, defend your planets from pirates, the Grox and save your planets and allies planets from eco-diaster, but that is about it. I believe if Mr. Meacham had played the space portion of the game for 12 hours more he would agree with me.

Spore is not a game I want to keep playing.

Due to the severely limited license that you get when you buy Spore and the limited amount of stuff to do in the game, I feel it is worth $9.99 rather than $49.99.

I would give it a 6 out of 10 rating.
September 26, 2008 12:32:50 PM

Excellent and honest review. I would have been a little less charitable, but only a little bit.

First the obligatory comment on DRM:
For me, the DRM alone was a deal killer. Because sucky games can not be returned, I feel forced to use torrents to test games out; the exception is when there is a fully working, but time limited, demo. If I like it I buy it. If I do not, I delete it. I buy roughly 90% of those I am interested enough in to DL (50+ titles thus far). I will never buy a game with SecuROM, but that is just me. I just do not see the point, the theoretical purpose is to limit piracy, but it does not do this. It was on torrents on the same day it was released. Do a little research on where SecuROM and how SecuROM does its thing. I am not advocating piracy. I think Piracy is just plain bad, but so is screwing up your customers PCs. I own every game I play which does not include a rootkit. I would strongly encourage everyone to continue to strongely object to this form of copy protection. Instead treat those who are willing to buy your product as valued customers. Consider that "Sins of the Solar Empire" sells well without any DRM; it has copy protection, but it is simple and easy to live with for those of us that paid for it. EA's goal should not be to STOP piracy, but to sell the most games possible. And, to treat your customers in a way so that they are likely to come back again and again. Copy protection should be used. But, no copy protection should be tolerated which in any way changes a customer system. No copy protection should be considered which is not uninstalled with the game.

Second the game itself: (assuming you use the latest patch (v1.01, reduce all scores by 10%+ for the original version)
The game itself (excluding the aweful space stage) is simply but fun. The creator aspects are the most fun through out the game. The exception being space. I loved making little creatures, tanks, and so on... The later stages in paricular were increasingly easy and short lived. But, still enjoyable in a very simple way that even kids could enjoy.

The amoeba stage was limited, but "ok". The only reason this was "ok" was because it was just the entry point in to a theoretically better game.
Grade: C- (5 of 10)

The creature stage is the first of the land stages and are probably the most fun. There is the hunt for genetic material. The evolution and design of your creature.
Grade: A (9.5 of 10)

The tribe stage and The civilization stage are more or less the same. You no longer control an individual but a group. First tribe members and later vehicles. Not as much fun. Not as long lasting and very very easy. It took me less than an hour to do both.
Grade: B- (7 of 10)


The space stage is so broken that it is hard to believe the same people are responsible for it and the rest. It is ultimately boring, tedious and very frustrating. It should be possible to establish infrastructure which does not require you to to be both explorer and bulk transport. Similarly, there is only 1 ship. And, the AI attacks several worlds at once fairly often. For 2 hours or so it attacked roughtly every 2-3 minutes. The AI was willing to take 20-30 times the amount of money I had as a bribe before they attacked. But, that was the only option. There was no way to scale this down. There was no way to make colonies that could defend themselves from even the mildest incursion.
Even the building / design which was occasionally fun in the previous versions is no pointless. You design your singular (and only) space ship, but the design has nothing to do with function. You would do just as well with a box. I could go on with other flaws, but enough said I think.
Grade: F (1.5 of 10) (If this stage were a stand alone game, it would be the worst in many years)

Overall grade: c- (6 of 10) (with a very bitter taste since the final version is SO very bad)


If they fix the space game to be a bit more like Elite, Master of Orion, or some other semi-fun game and remove SecureROM I would buy this game. But with the DRM, no buy not at any price. Even with NO DRM (not the same as no copy protection), but a the space portion still as broken as in the latest patch (v.1.01) I would not buy it or reccomend it. It would honestly be better to have an option for the game to just have a big party celebrating your victory at the end of the civilization phase.
!