Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sporing is not Boooring...


Despite what the term 'Sporing' might imply, I assure you that I am not using it in the negative sense, as in the game being boring. If I had typed 'Spoooring' instead, that would have been easily understood as Spore being a bore, which surprisingly to me, it's not. Sure it feels like an entry level RTS game for the casual crowd, but it's entertaining, and offers some challenge, and where the game really shines is in it's scope of customization, and as a game as a whole, (when thought of as a whole, as opposed to individual parts of the game.)

Though most critical gamers would prefer to boil it down to the different individual stages of the game, and the shortcomings of those stages when comparing them to the types of games that have preceded them (Flow, Command and Conquer, Civilization, etc.), judging Spore solely based on those wouldn't be entirely right. It's a little bit of everything, not everything of everything. When you put those smaller elements together and look at it as a whole, (from high above like the god pov in the game itself), that's what the game is, and it's really cool. Don't judge the game entirely based on the single stages of gameplay.

After reading about the random crashes and bugs that plagued Spore users right out of the box, I was hesitant to pick up the game so soon. As I waited to see if EA and Maxis would take care of the problem with some patch update, I went ahead and read the reviews that were trickling in, and the comments about Will Wright's latest videogame, which described it as a "jack of all trades, master of none," a flawed good game, not for the die hard RTS fans, but even that in mind, I was still interested in getting my hands on a copy.

So when a chance to get the deluxe edition of Spore (discounted) finally came up, I took it. Some DVD extras, and cool packaging doesn't justify the $79.99CAN price tag the game retails for, so I probably wouldn't have been interested in paying full price for this in stores. Being that it was literally dirt cheap with the offer I was getting, I couldn't turn it down. 30 bucks.

My first exposure to a Will Wright game, was with Sim City on Super Nintendo, and then later with Sim City 2000. I never really got into The Sims, it just never appealed to me despite it's mass popularity. I wouldn't say I'm a huge fan of RTS games, but I can understand their addictiveness and appeal. Thanks to my brother, uncle, and cousin I played all sorts of simulation games in addition to Sim City, from the early ActRaiser to Theme Park, Syndicate, Star Trek Armada, Age of Empires, and many others, that I can't really distinguish individually from each other being most RTS games seem to all meld into one, especially the historically based RTS kind.

In Spore's case, I think the game does a good job of not falling into the generic RTS genre, each stage is clearly defined and memorable, some more entertaining than others, but the overall package is unique, and most importantly fun. I think parts of the game could have been less rudimentary, and linear, but overall it's an engaging game for those gamers who are willing to put aside the pre-release hype, marketing, and their own expectations.

My two mouthed, four-armed, dinosaur/dragon Spore creation called Rezling has made it to the civilization stage. There's more Sporing to be had!

What really bugs me the most about the criticism that Spore has been receiving is that most people won't even give it a chance simply because of a review. The other day I overheard a conversation about a guy who refuses to play Spore because of Zero Punctuation, and what Yahtzee had to say about the game. Sure Yahtzee is awesome, and his review of Spore is on point, but come on dude, give it a try at a friends house, then judge for yourself. The fact that he sounded like a devote follower of internet videogame media who always depends on single reviewer, didn't help. Maybe that's why it bothered me so much. Don't people have a mind of their own these days? Or at least read a variety of opinions before judging?

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