If you've ever been to a zoo, looked at a giraffe and wondered, "What was God thinking?" then "Spore," the latest video game creation from the minds behind "SimCity" and "The Sims," is your chance to force Mother Nature to bow to your will and right her wrongs.
"Spore," a new PC game from EA and Maxis, puts the omnipotent power of creation in the hands of players as they develop and nurture their own unique life-form from a single-celled organism struggling to survive in the primordial soup, to a technologically advanced space-faring society exploring the universe.
More of a series of five individual games than one cohesive experience, "Spore" promises much but fails to deliver on engaging game play. But the game's elaborate creature creation system and an equally intricate building and vehicle creation system are jaw-dropping and offer players almost limitless possibilities.
While not a game that's played online, "Spore" also features a unique social networking system that allows player-created content, like creatures and space ships, to appear in other players' games. Though the game itself populates the universe with all kinds of strangeness, nothing compares to the oddities generated by other players, and their incorporation into the game means no two games are the same.
At the beginning of "Spore," your little organism is not much more than a small blob with perhaps an eye or two and a mouth. Players choose whether they want to be herbivores or carnivores and swim around in a tidal pool searching for food while avoiding predators.
As they progress, the life-form mates and players are introduced to a rudimentary version of the creature creator, where they can alter the creature by adding or taking away parts like spikes, fins, mouths or poison spitting nodes.
After devouring enough meat or veggies, it's time to evolve. This is where players get their all powerful mitts on the more robust creature creator and get to work on their new species.
It's almost impossible to summarize the array of options players have to choose from in the creator. Like a piece of clay waiting to be molded, the player grabs hold of the creature's torso and twists, pulls and pushes the form, adding legs, arms, hands, feet eyes, mouths and any numbers of defensive or offensive weapons. Choose from one of the preset arrangements to color your creature from head to toe, or create your own.
Once the player settles on an aesthetic for the beast, it's time to take it out for a test drive in the "creature" phase of the game and decide what makes this little fella tick.
Is this a friendly creature who tries to impress other creatures with song and dance to win favor and allies? Or is this an aggressive predator seeking to dominate all life on the planet through brute force? The choice is in your hands.
It's at this time in the game that players will get a taste for the vastness of the universe their playing in. Think you're the boss? Conquer a species and wipe them out of existence only to find yourself in the shadow and at the mercy of another, larger and more advanced species. Run in fear as UFOs fill the sky, probing and investigating your primitive planet and perhaps abducting a few specimens for research.
There's always a bigger fish in Spore ... and it usually has three mouths, a horn and crab hands.