I’d be lying if I said I had a lot of time for games.  Between the full time and a half job that BKeeney Software is, writing for RB Developer and this blog I don’t have a lot of time to play games.  Oh, and that giant sucking sound you hear is ARBP sucking away any chance at finding free time.

However, after a Friday afternoon meeting, a team member showed me Spore and let me test drive the game for a few minutes.  It was enough for me to go to the Apple Store in torrential downpours Friday night to get the last copy on the shelf.  After a Kansas City Symphony concert I managed to put in a couple of hours before bed and also put in about three hours late Saturday night.  Do I like the game?  Heck yes!

The graphics and sounds are high quality and the game play is fairly fast.  The game isn’t so hard that you can’t advance, in fact, the game sort of hinges upon your failures and how you respond to them – the game is about evolution after all (at least in the first half).

You start as a single cell in the primordial soup of your world and from there you start deciding what you’re doing to be by eating other creatures and choosing what to evolve to.  You start in the ocean getting bigger and bigger until you can leave the ocean.  This part of the game reminds me of PacMan of all things.

From there you move on to land where some of the characteristics you added in the water now help/hinder you on land.  I was a carnivore so I had teeth and spikes for weapons and poison and shell as a defense.  Once you’re on land the goal is to evolve into tribes.  I found this section to be challenging because other creatures are also evolving and adding strengths and it soon becomes apparent that you can’t be a rogue and just go out and kill everything in site because there are some mighty large creatures out there (one was so big it stepped on me and I died nearly right away).  So it’s either eat or be eaten or learn how to cooperate with others.  I’m a carnivore – what do I care about cooperating with others?  I’m not sure what this part of the game reminds me of – it’s not quite like Diablo or Neverwinter Nights but it has the same sort of feel.

Once you’ve evolved from there you go into tribal stage where you have to have hands for tools and weapons.  The object is to either wipe out or cooperate with all the other tribes for supremacy.  Your tribe gets bigger each time you conquer another tribe.  Along the way you add babies to the tribe, learn how to fish, make spears and axes and each member of the tribe can be independently controlled.  In my case, because I was seriously aggressive with nothing but powerful natural weapons (poison being one of them) the addition of axes and spears was just icing on the cake.  I quickly won this part of the evolution game.  This part of the game reminded me a lot of World of Warcraft.

The next part of the game is sort of like Civilization.  You get cities and you have to mine Spice (my guess is this varies plane to planet in the galaxy) for money.  You build weaponry and get to blast other cities and go to war.  This where I’m at – I’ve seriously pissed off all my neighbors in the world so I’m looking forward to see what happens.  My guess is that I’ll have to do some negotiation to get off planet.

The next part (I’m told) is like Pax Imperia or one of the galaxy conquering games.  It should be interesting to see how the game play is on that part.

One of the things that amazes me is the level of detail you can get to on EVERYTHING.  You creatures can be as detailed as you could ever want.  In Civilization mode you can create your own buildings and vehicles or use one of the pre-made Maxis models or, which I find way cool, is use other people’s that have uploaded theirs to the server.  In creature mode this leads to some incredibly interesting creatures and I’ve heard (though not seen) a new category of creatures called Sporn with interesting body parts.

Is it a good game?  Between my 8 year old, 16 year old and myself we’ve been playing it non-stop since Friday night.  Even if I never play it again the Keeney household has gotten its money’s-worth out of it.

So what do you think?