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VINE VOICEon September 7, 2008
See those older 5-star reviews from 2006 (two years before the game was released)? Well, they had a reason to be excited. Spore was supposed to be a revolutionary experience, combining multiple genres while concentrating on evolution and genetics.

Fast forward two years and here we have the finished product, ready to be installed on our hard drives.

First of all, the game incorporates a draconian DRM system that requires you to activate over the internet, and limits you to a grand total of 3 activations. If you reach that limit, then you'll have to call EA in order to add one extra activation. That's not as simple as it sounds, since when you reach that point EA will assume that you, the paying customer, are a filthy pirating thief. You will need to provide proof of purchase, reasons why the limit was reached, etc, etc (it has all happened before with another recent EA product, Mass Effect). EA, of course, is not obligated to grant you that extra activation or even provide that service. In a couple of years they might very well even shut down the general activation servers, because "it's not financially feasible" to keep them running. What you will be left with is a nice, colorful $50 coaster. And you will be required to pay for another copy/license if you want to continue playing.

This basically means that you are actually RENTING the game, instead of owning it. The game WILL stop to function in the future. That's inevitable, because even if EA keeps the activation servers going, there IS going to be a time when EA will simply cease to exist because of financial issues or federal laws (like most businesses eventually do).

Second, the game was dumbed down to oblivion. Evolution doesn't even matter anymore. For example, you can add as many legs to a creature as you want, but the multi-legged creature won't be any faster than a single-legged one with higher leg stats. This gameplay element makes "creating" your creatures entirely pointless (cosmetic only, because everything is based on stats), and brings you about the same amount of excitement as dressing up a plastic doll.
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on September 9, 2008
This game has some revolutionary concepts, such as automatically shared user content and amazing design tools (that were already introducted and perfected, and some would say superior by Galactic Civilizations 2 years ago).

However, there is no 'game' here. As some people put, the 'game' amounts to over simplified tasks that are monotonous and repetitive. The creature stage isn't as fun as you would imagine, as not all the parts are available, and even if they were, you are encouraged to use the 'highest stat' part effectively limiting you to maybe 6-10 parts to place onto your creature.

Why would you use a cool looking mouth with a social rating of '1' if that means that you can't befriend the other tribes and hence progress in the game?? Basically, many of the parts become useless, no matter how good they look. Furthermore, other creature nests (only one nest per species) are arranged with weak creatures immediately around you, and progressively higher level creatures at increasing distances. How predictable. Basically, its designed so that you only explore or run around your immediate nest. I always imagined finding random creatures walking around, hunting, eating, grazing, finding mates, etc. Nope. All creatures basically hang around IN or NEXT TO their nest. How lame. So basically there is no mixing of the creatures. Creatures dont wander around the world as you would think. They are all found in clumps and really only have limited interactions with each other (limited since they only interact [partially] with surrounding nests, as they dont wander around the world)

The civilization stage is HORRIBLE. Basically it amounts to the most simplified and boring RTS I have ever played. Quickly grab a few resources, and then keep clicking on 'create vehicle' and send it to the enemy city. Repeat the last 2 steps endlessly and you have the game. No strategy, no thinking, no variety. You might as well have a script do this for you.

Then there's the DRM. Let me just clarify what people are saying by adding, it not only counts installations, but changes to your hardware ! Upgrade a system component (memory, CPU, vid card) and you are out an installation. Not that it matters because its really a pretty bad game (except for the creation tools) Nice job. Basically I just paid $50 for a coaster.
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on September 7, 2008
I played with the creature creator a bit and had a good time. I long ago pre-ordered Spore and have not had time to look further into the game as it approaches release. When I finally did, a few days ago, I discovered that they are implementing the absurd SecuROM DRM.

I have no interest in paying full price for a game that I will be severely restricted from being able to play at a later point. Presuming installation is flawless, the current restriction to "three installs" is something any user will exceed long before their interest in the game does.

In my situation, I would be installing it on my desktop and my laptop. I would only ever be playing one of these systems at a time so there would be no violation of the ridiculous EULA most products have. Only one instance would ever be operated simultaneously and only by me, the owner (well, renter as EA and SecuROM would have it). This would mean that as soon as I ever had to reinstall an OS on my desktop or laptop, I'd be screwed out of the game unless I wanted to buy it again for full price (and what happens if you want to enjoy the game a few years down the road and re-install it)?

Think about that for a minute. Even if you never upgrade your hardware or buy a new computer or use a different computer -- how often (presuming you're using Windows of course) do you reinstall your operating system? And each time, you have to reinstall the game. If you're an XP user, you'll probably install the game. Then you'll upgrade to Vista. That'll be another install. Two down; one to go. Then you may need to re-install vista from scratch for any number of miserable reasons. And that will be your third strike. You better hope that you never *ever* need to change or adjust that system for any reason if you like Spore.

Imagine applying this to other products. What if you could only watch purchased DVDs on one specific DVD player and once you've played it on that system, you could never play them on another one. No lending them to your friends. No buying a new player. No watching it on your payer in different rooms. No selling your used DVDs. And if your player dies and you buy a new one, you'll have to re-purchase the movie. Wouldn't that be silly? Perfectly good content that you have physically sitting in your hand that you paid handily for and have every right to own and use... only... you don't own it and can't use it.

I only wish I had known this sooner. It is already in the process of being shipped so I can't cancel the order. Once it arrives, you better believe I'm going to hand it right back to the UPS driver and tell him I refuse to accept delivery.

This is truly unfortunate. I'm a fan of Will Wright, even if some of his more recent games have not been geared toward the traditional simulation or Sim City fan and have been aimed more at the "decorate a bedroom and play house" crowd. I'd love to give Wright my support. But EA is making that impossible with this ridiculous scheme. I'm not a thief. Don't treat me like one.
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on September 12, 2008
I've been a fan of Will Wright for many years and when I first started hearing about Spore years ago I was very excited.
I watched the videos and they looked superb. I downloaded the creature creator and it too was excellent!

Finally the day came when Spore was released and I went to my friend's house to play it. I was super excited!
He said it was so lame that I could have it. I didn't listen to him and was overjoyed to have been given his copy! I rushed home and installed it.

I played through the whole thing hoping in vain that it would get better but feeling the bitter sting of FAIL with every passing moment.

The Cell phase- A pretty and cute rehash of the PSP game "Flow".
Lasted all of 20 minutes with the only consequence being choosing a mouth and a diet.

The Creature phase- The best of all the levels, but that's not saying much.You painstakingly created a creature by grinding through a bland "world", and performing the same repetitive actions over and over again; killing or charming creatures that all hang around sullenly by identical nests. By the time you "level up" your creature and are ready to progress to Tribal phase, you get a nasty surprise.

Tribal phase- All the stats you grinded for in the Creature phase are now useless and you now get to play an insultingly simplistic, kiddie version of Age of Empires or other similar RTS games.
Again you must repetitively charm or attack other creatures but this time you are viewing your painstakingly designed creature as a speck from a bird's eye view. You get to dress your creature in clothes now (only a few choices) and Tribal phase is over faster than you can say "WTF?"

Civilized phase- Now you have a crappy template city and you design your buildings, ships and such with the sweet editor only to once again view them as specs. Now you're playing Starcraft but the shiny, shallow kids version. Why did I design all this cool stuff again? I can't even see it and I'm bogged down by a boring, linear clone of an old game.

Space phase- You are now trapped in your speck-sized spaceship for the rest of the game and can only get out as a clunky "hologram" that cannot interact with anything (but can be killed by other creatures for some reason.) You have ONE ship and spend your time jumping from star to star looking at planet after bland planet and running errands for aliens who appear as icons similar to games released in the early 90's.
So that's it. You can visit and terraform planets (which more or less all look the same) and look at other colonies, trapped in your spaceship and constantly under attack from "pirates" of whom you must destroy using the buggy space laser system. You can create another dull planet if you like to contain another template "city" but that's it.
That's the end.

The whole game is a collection of 5 unoriginal, regurgitated, simplistic and insultingly easy minigames with a nice custom content editor that serves no purpose whatsoever in the game itself.
All the customizable content is 100% cosmetic. For looks only and nothing more.

My extreme disappointment can barely be verbalized. The videos of the game still look superb and EA doubtlessly reserved these features for the real cash cow - expansion packs.

Hey, Will. Make a Sims 2 style Spore with lots of complexity, voluntary combat, interaction,variation and surprises and you may have something.
Right now all you have is a lousy collection of minigames and a whole lot of disappointed fans.

Glad I didn't buy it and hope my review saves others from the total let down that is Spore.
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on September 7, 2008
With 1 computer we were planning on playing Spore with our seperate logons the same way we play other games. But that's a big no go! EA has seen fit to not allow multiple logons ON THE SAME COMPUTER!! So we have to settle for limiting ourselves with sharing the universe. This would be OK if it were just the 2 of us but I'd like to let my son play too. But with 3 of us we're limited to 2 planets per and will end up unlocking things that the other 2 haven't earned yet etc...

This user limitation is just dumb. Does EA expect families to have 1 computer per family member?!? I'd love that but can't afford it.

I will be attempting to return the game. Maybe later on we can buy it again when EA fixes this issue.
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on September 11, 2008
It was supposed to change the way games are played, it was supposed to be ground breaking. It had been dubbed "Sim-Everything"

Expectations for this game were high... I knew better, having been a veteran of games such as Black & White. Nonetheless, I was determined that I would enjoy this game, that I would love it. And I tried very hard to see the good in it, but after around a week of time spent with it... I have to say that my interest is wearing thin. I've already exhausted all novelty that this game has to offer, and there is very little in the way of depth to keep me interested. The Cell Game is probably the most excited you will ever be when you play this game.

The most important and touted aspect of this game- the creature evolution, is simplified to such a degree that the game affords virtually nothing like evolution, its more like.. A very simple and shortened Action/Adventure type game that only takes 1-2 hours to play from beginning to end. It also distinctly lacks variety in gameplay, despite the virtually unlimited amount of user-created content available. While this content does number in the hundreds, and will likely soon be in the thousands, of millions of different things, it is generally amateurish and uninteresting to most people. Also unpleasant shapes and/or names for user created objects are not uncommon.

The space game does get interesting for awhile. Mostly due to the on-the-surface vastness it possibly offers... and it does for awhile. The power to destroy a planet offers significant appeal to ones geeky megalomaniacal side and its "Star Wars" flashbacks. (You may fire when ready!) But only so much of this may truly keep one's interest for any length of time, and when that is exhausted (all too soon!) there is sadly little to bring a person back to this game again.

All of that is really not so bad. It is a great game for young children, it is (generally) family friendly, and light easy gaming fun. Not for hardcore gamers, but this has been known since early development of the game. Its gameplay depth is in the vein of "The Sims". Which Is a game I thoroughly enjoyed.

No, all that considered would still have made me give this game 3-4 stars, as the game itself does deserve a lot of credit for doing what it tried to do as well as it does. No other game designer on Earth is capable of doing this like Will Wright has.

What makes this game one star is the police-state nature of its copy protection. Three installs, and then you are out of luck. EA claims that this can be rectified for those with legitimate reasons, but of course, this is an exaggeration on their part- they will make you pay for more installs of this game. The DRM has already failed to prevent cracking and piracy of this game. So now, it only punishes legitimate users who properly paid for copies of their game. The only practical purpose of the DRM, therefore, is forcing honest people to pay for the game again if they decide to upgrade their hardware, or get a new computer, more than twice.

EA really should be ashamed of itself for this despicable business practice. Treating their customers like criminals, and then providing absolutely abominable customer service to the people who have allowed EA to become the massive corporation that it is.

Its rather likely, that this will be the final game I purchase from that publisher, if they feel that they are able to treat their customers in this way, than I don't wish to be one. My software purchases only amount to several hundred dollars a year, but its several hundred that they won't be seeing again; and they could have, if only they demonstrated that they truly wished to have my business.
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on September 7, 2008
I just got through a massive headache dealing with DRM for Adobe Photoshop CS3. I've dealt with massive headaches from DRM from Civ3 gold. All of this is on a very high end vista PC. Thanks, but no thanks. I was excited about the concept of this game for many months. That is until I found out about the DRM it uses. I will not buy software with DRM ever again, particularly if they limit the installs to something ridiculous like 3.

Update (9/12/08): I just learned that EA limits purchasers to one account per household even though the manual states that multiple accounts may be used per installation. What does that mean? Well, say you have 4 people in your house that want to play spore on 4 different accounts. No problem, according to EA games, just pony up $200 for 4 licenses.
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on September 8, 2008
Unfortunately, this game had SO much potential. Seeing the demo videos and trailers... and it coming from the Sim master himself, I figured this game would be tremendous fun.

I tried the Creature Creator utility (sold seperately) and had some fun with it.

Sadly, they managed to mess up this game. The creatures do not evolve, they only Level Up. Aside from the ability to customize the LOOK of your characters to a marvelous degree, the ABILITIES stay the same. If you level up two completely different-looking creatures - say one with blades for hands and bipedal... and the other some gentle looking thing with 6 legs... guess what? They BOTH have the SAME abilities to hunt, walk, mate and Level Up if you play them the same way.

I think that's the biggest failure of this game. I get more variety from stat-based Levelling Up in Square-Enix games!
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on September 9, 2008
My wife and I have both spent hours enjoying EA Games content. My wife, in particular, has been a big fan of the Sims games and we were both really excited about the concept of spore. I first heard about it a year ago and have been anxiously awaiting its release.

The games we play were purchased legitimately.

I will not be purchasing this game.

I take great care with my computer. I don't download software unless I am certain of the security of the source. I use utilities that keep the computer safe and secure and running smoothly. My computer is not just a toy but also a tool that I use to manage finances, obtain information, and work.

I am an avid gamer and own many of the latest big titles. I also completely understand that EA Games has a right to protect their software from piracy. After all, as a corporation, the major goal is profit generation.

That said, secretly installing draconian malware that subverts my machine's security and performance and circumvents my ability to manage what is installed on my machine is unacceptable. Specifically,

1 - Restricting a paying customer to a certain number of activations needlessly restricts legitimate purchases and does nothing to combat piracy. It also puts the player in danger of eventually finding his game unplayable despite having likely never been informed that what he thought was a game purchase was actually a $50 lease for a yet unknown amount of time. It is also well documented that this number of activations can be used up, not just by installing on a new computer, but by replacing minor pieces of hardware (RAM, sound card, etc) or even with BIOS or firmware (driver) updates. Many gamers will find they burn through their activations without ever installing the game on a new machine. International buyers will also find outrageous phone costs for attempts at gaining additional activations, and EA games claims it is under no obligation to allow additional activations and has not revealed what a customer will have to do to prove that they are not a pirate.

2 - The fact that the DRM software cannot be removed (even after removing the related game) is abusive. We already know that the SecuRom software works in a way that can actively interfere with hardware and software functionality and can refuse to allow game use if perfectly legitimate software is active (such as Microsoft's Process Explorer).

3 - The way SecuRom works and even the fact that it is installed is completely cloaked. While obscure references to information reporting are included in the EULA, the user is never told how this software will effect his system. Moreover, EA Games has proactively suppressed community discussion of SecuRom, making it increasingly difficult make an informed decision about whether the value of playing Spore outweighs the liability of having SecuRom lurking on your machine.

The SecuRom that is packaged with Spore is malware. It is installed on your machine without the user's informed consent, it reports undisclosed information to a remote location, and it actively interferes with many legitimate applications. I will not install this on my computer.

Perhaps, as we make more aware of what exactly they are getting when they install Spore, EA Games will lose enough business that they'll be more respectful of their customers with subsequent releases. I hope that is true. In the mean time, I'll be playing something else.
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on September 8, 2008
The DRM is not really a problem on this game since you won't be installing it more than one time. Of course, EA didn't know that, and their DRM is invasive and unacceptable. You should pass up this clunker for that reason alone.

However, there are other reasons as well. The gameplay is SO boring and dumbed down that it appears to be aimed at five-year-olds.

Most of the much-ballyhooed editors actually do nothing at all. That's right, they have no effect on gameplay WHATSOEVER. You can spend ten hours in the building editor, making models for EA (that's right, they own all your creations) but these models will have no effect at all on your in-game stats.

Spore is essentially a collection of five separate minigames, all of which are dumbed down to the level of 5-minute Flash games with glitzy graphics. There is little or no integration between the various minigames. That means that what you do in Cell stage has very little real impact even in Creature stage, aside from what mouth you choose. Do you want to eat meat only, plants only, or everything? OK, so you spent 15 minutes choosing your mouth.

Then we get to Creature stage, where the awful realization of the terrible debacle that is Spore begins to hit. See, Cell stage is much too short, too simple, and with too few choices, but it's not until you reach Creature Stage that you begin to understand how completely EA dropped the ball here.

But in Creature stage, it becomes apparent very quickly that what you do in the editor has very little effect on gameplay. If you get an eye, or a nose, it does nothing. Creature form does nothing, other than the creature having to face its prey with a mouth to bite. I understand that creature height allows herbivores to eat from taller trees. Big deal.

There is no physics engine. It doesn't really matter how many legs or arms your creature has. It doesn't matter if you have eyes on its rear end. Creature stage fighting is mindless MMORP-style buttonmashing with no point to it. Go to a new nest. Eat. Mate. Put some new parts on your paper doll.

And that's the main problem. Those new parts, most of them, don't actually DO anything. A few of them do different things but they don't do them within the context of a physics model, they do what they do as simple numbers: 5 speed, 3 bite.

Big deal.

Then we get to Tribal stage, which is a well-made little RTS game that will last you all of 5 minutes. It's so easy on Hard (and the others of the first 4 stages are as well) that it takes about 20 minutes to beat. And it's the same every time, so there is zero replay value. That's true of the other stages as well, by the way: there are so few choices-- and the small number of choices has been cunningly obscured by the complexity seeming to be available in the editors but in fact missing-- that there are really only a couple of ways to play each stage. There really aren't any glaring problems with Tribal, it's just far, FAR too simple. It doesn't even have the redeeming value of multiplayer. It would still be much too simple in multiplayer, however.

Age of Empires this is not. Age of Empires came out in 1998.

Then we get to Civ. Civ is the worst of the five stages, and is so dumbed down as to be insultingly pathetic. You have one type of each of three kinds of vehicle available, land sea and air. You can design the vehicles but there is again very little gameplay impact from your choices. You win by assimilating the other cities somehow. You do this by either buying them, by shooting them with bullets, or by shooting them with bullets of religion. There are three types of buildings that you can place, and there's a simplistic web of relationships that connects them. I am making this sound very much more complicated than it actually is.

Then, there is the building editor. The building editor DOESN'T DO ANYTHING. IT HAS NO IMPACT WHATSOEVER ON GAMEPLAY.

Now we come to space stage. Space stage is the widest of the five stages, and the most plagued with grievously horrible gameplay decisions.

Again, it's oversimplified. It looks like it's complex but it's really not. There is an ecological model for planets, but it is so simplified as to be not worth even bothering with. It's not even on the level of a five-minute Flash game. The cities from Civ are back, but they don't actually do anything at all this time except harvest spice. They don't even seem to defend themselves, even if you buy turrets.

See, you're expected to defend your entire empire against alien attacks and against internal ecological problems (random events, in other words, that require that you go to the planet and kill some diseased animals with a laser) WITH ONE SHIP.

Consider that against the backdrop of the vast galaxy. You have one ship. You get more ships to fly with you but the other ships in the fleet are similar to the Options in Gradius. They fly around with you and attack what you attack. That's all.

This is a game that tries to be Master of Orion, but only gives you one ship to maintain an entire empire and protect it against attack.

SO, to wrap it up, Spore is a bunch of hacked-together, overdone, simplistic minigames, with hackneyed gameplay, which are not integrated together at all. It is not fun even for the first play through. If it were only oversimplified, that would be reason enough to avoid it like the plague. If if only had invasive DRM, that would be reason enough.

But the gameplay in this title is just horrid. Horridly bad, on the level of bargain bin children's titles from dev houses in eastern Europe.

What an asinine, unforgivably bad game this is.
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