Posted: May 19, 2014
An asteroid hurdles through space, speeding past alien spacecraft who follow it, attempting to scan it for any life. Within seconds, the asteroid is out of sight, and enters the orbit of a planet. Catching fire, it slams into the ground, creating a crater from the impact. Hundreds of small fragments explode from the asteroid, scattering themselves around the planet. Some land by cities of sophisticated, lizard-like beigns, others by curious tribes who begin worshipping the fiery rocks, and by clueless creatures who poke and lick them. One particular fragment lands in a small pool of water, and you crawl out - a small, slithery cell who's main goal is to survive.
This is Spore, the tale of how your microscopic race can go from scavengers getting enough food to barely survive, to a thriving empire that controls the entire galaxy. The game is based on five stages: Cell, Creature, Tribe, Civilization, and Space. Cell station is where your journey begins. There is little customization in this stage, except for the basic shape of your cell and organelles. Once you become the top of the food chain, you evolve legs. Stumbling onto land, you enter the Creature Stage.
Here is where the true customization takes place. You can collect various parts from skeletons scattered around the planet and add them to your creature. You can make a huge, strong behemoth who crushes his enemies with his gigantic claws, or a small, nimble beign that flies and steals food from his enemies before they notice he is there. You can create your creature based on your species' diet: omnivore, carnivore, or herbivore. Besides the customization, Creature Stage introduces a huge skill in the game that is incredibly useful - friends and foes.
You can choose whether to impress other races and become friends, or attempt to destroy and annhilate them. You have to be wise as to who you attack and who you ally; making enemies with all the weak creatures could end up with them evolving into way stronger creatures and destroying YOU. Once your brain has increased, your species can begin laying out the foundations for a tribe. Here is where the friends and foes system comes into major effect. To complete the Tribal Stage and become a civilization, you must complete your Tribe Totem Pole. For every tribe you defeat or ally, a new totem is added. This stage goes by rather fast, and prepares you for Civilizational Stage.
Civilization Stage takes inspiration from Sid Meier's Civilization series. Your goal is to control every city on the planet, whether through religious, economic, or military means. Religious races can convert the race into believing your civilization is their leader, and is considered the easiest way to complete the stage. Military is just brute force; when it comes to the guns in this, size DOES matter. Economic is peaceful; you start a trade route with a friendly city and eventually buy their city from them. This takes longer than the other two ways but can be very helpful in the long run.
Once you control the planet, you can launch a space project, starting the Space Stage, which is endless. All the choices you've made in the previous stages add up to decide what class you are in the Space Stage - perhaps a battle-crazed tyrant, or a religious zealot out to convert everyone to the teachings of Spode. During the stage, your goal is to go from the Captain of your Space Project to the Omnipotent Beign of the Universe. On the way, you'll encounter the Grox - a cyborg race who hate all and arguably are the antagonists of the game. (If hours of work are put into it, you could make them your ally- if you ever do, I commend you for your bravery.) Between space pirates, colonizing other planets, upgrading your fleet, and stabalizing your funds, this is by far my favorite stage. Overall, this is a great game for creative people and truly lets your imagination soar.