INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
Time Out SEPTEMBER 19-25, 2008, 2008 - by Andrew Johnston
Will Wright, the creator of SimCity and The Sims, has never been one to play it safe: While it's true his biggest hits inspired endless sequels, many were initially written off because they didn't fit into an established genre. Spore, Wright's longtime dream project, is his most daring title yet: Part science toy, part strategy game and part design tool, it's one of the most unique computer games in years.
At the heart of the game is the creature creator, which players use to design a cellular organism as goofy-looking (or not) as they please. DNA points serve as money, which is used to buy upgrades that provide new abilities, eventually allowing one's creation to escape the primordial ooze. After making it onto dry land, it's time for the "creature", "tribal" and "civilization" stages - each a game unto itself - before Spore turns into a space exploration simulator complete with terraforming and intergalactic commerce (the journey can take from five hours to a couple of days).
The randomly created "generative" music by Brian Eno is just one of many technical innovations: Players can upload their creatures to an online server that also lets them download the creations of others for use as enemies or allies, one can subscribe to a friend's creations via an RSS feed, and a dedicated YouTube channel hosts user-created videos of their creations in action.
Wright may have thrown in everything but the kitchen sink, but none of it gets in the way thanks to an intuitive interface that makes it easy to use or ignore as many features as one likes. Spore is not without issues - the length of the chapters could have been better balanced - but the way it moves video games forward as an art form makes most of the problems moot.