Spore Exclusive Hands-On - From Cell to Civilization

Did you ever think plant-eating cells would evolve into religious zealots? We find out in our exclusive time with Spore.

Evolution is a long, slow process, and its effects sometimes aren't noticeable for millions of years. In Spore, it takes about 15 minutes. We visited EA Maxis this week as part of our ongoing coverage leading up to the game's September 7 release date, and we played through the cell stage up to the final moments of the tribal stage as our creature evolved from single-celled organism to fire-wielding biped. Someday we'll conquer the planet and then the galaxy in the civilization and space stages, but today, we'll walk you through the first half of Maxis' hybrid strategy game.

Your first decision is one of the most important and will affect everything down to the design of your spaceship a billion game years in the future: Do you eat meat? Carnivores are more aggressive than their vegetarian cousins in Spore, and the simple act of eating animal cells instead of plant cells will lead species to be more hostile. That said, evolution in Spore is at your fingertips, and one mating call will take you to the cell creator tool, letting you completely reverse the direction of your evolution should your gameplay tastes change.

One day all this will be yours. If you can survive the primordial soup.

Once you decide on your diet, you choose one of several planets to play on. You have the option to begin from any of the five phases, should you want to skip the rather simple cell stage which, in some ways, plays more like a casual downloadable game. Indeed, after a meteor crashes into the ocean, seeding it with life (that's you), your first and only goal is to survive, swimming about using keyboard controls or the mouse, chomping on floating pieces of red meat, or green plants if you chose to play vegan (we didn't). With each piece of food you eat, you gain a point on the progress bar and grow slightly in size.

You're not alone in the primordial soup, however. Other cell creatures are fighting for food as well, and some are a lot bigger than you. To succeed, you have to avoid larger creatures that see you as nothing more than an afternoon snack and go after smaller creatures, many of which are user creations straight out of the Sporepedia. When you take out a competing organism, they will often drop new body parts that are added to the creator tool.

Then, by clicking on the mating call button, you swim up to a friendly cell of the same species--which are now everywhere as you begin to assert your dominance of the primordial soup--and make a baby cell. You can outfit this next generation with any of the body parts you've collected. Our new cell transformed from a friendly little guy with a pair of spikes to a poison-spitting, electrocuting ball of doom in just one generation. With significant DNA points and such evolutionary advantages, our cell was now ready to advance to the creature stage.

This stage takes you to an abridged version of the Spore creature creator, already available for $10 for dedicated mad scientists hoping to create the master race. Only this time you have just one evolutionary category to choose from: legs. Attach them to your cell and then crawl forth to land as a smaller fish in a bigger pond, a theme common in each Spore stage. Our creature was outfitted with a poison stinger, two electrical nodes, a few spikes, a pair of eyes, and carnivorous, flesh-ripping beak. After we advanced to the creature stage, a handy timeline popped up displaying each of our new generations and their evolutionary advancements over hundreds of millions of years.

Each stage will introduce an increasing number of strategy elements; the creature stage begins with a land map and home nest. The nest is where you can regain health if injured and recruit clan members of your own species to join you on a hunting party, the humble beginnings of civilization. As a carnivore, the only way to advance is to eat other creatures.

If your critters prefer feasting on fruit instead of their fellows, they'll lead completely different lives.

Thankfully some of the creatures are much less evolved than you, equipped with only legs and mouths and as easy to eat as an apple on the ground. Most species that you encounter, however, are more advanced than your own, and in these cases it's not advisable to go in chomping. Instead, change your "stance" from aggressive to friendly, and you'll open a new batch of diplomacy actions such as sing and dance. Some species are inherently aggressive and will attempt to eat you, forcing you back to the nest to wait for a hundred million years of evolution and growth before you're strong enough to take them on. Others enjoy a good song and dance and will be impressed by your creatures' performances. This little minigame is the base of all diplomacy for future generations.

Speaking of future generations, body parts litter the environment in the creature stage and are added to the creature creator pool for use after each mating call. When an egg hatches with your new modifications, the entire species will have been edited. Also, the baby's parents will teach you new moves such as strike attacks before letting you out of the nest to hunt. Continue to impress neighboring species or eat others into extinction to fill up your progress bar. This opens up more slots for clan members, but as you progress to the tribal stage, the need to be more organized becomes clear.

The discovery of fire is a key turning point for your society.

Soon, the alpha member of your species discovers fire. He grabs a stick and pumps it into the air in triumph, attracting other members of the species. They are impressed by his bravado and decide to follow his leadership as chieftain. Welcome to the tribal stage.

At this point the evolution of your creature is complete. Now you begin to learn the use of rudimentary tools and to craft ornate clothing. Members of the tribe gather around a makeshift village that consists of a hut and a fire. This is also where you gain the ability to command tribe members, selecting them much the same way you would select a unit in a real-time strategy game. As primitive hunters and gatherers, your first goal is to find food. Simply point and click on one of your tribe members and order him toward a food source such as wild animals or fruit trees. He will automatically collect the food and bring it home to your stockpile.

Food in the tribal stage acts as currency, used as gifts to wild animals in order to domesticate them, offered to rival tribes as a peace offering, or used to make new babies as you grow your tribe. It can also be used to purchase new huts for the village, unlocking new tools. Fishing spears, throwing spears, battle-axes, flaming torches, and musical instruments all become available, but there isn't room for everything. Hunting and gathering tools are useful for everyone, and fishermen armed with spears are much more productive than those using their bare hands--or whatever appendage you designed back in the creature creator. But more aggressive tribes may want to fashion weapons for midnight raids, while friendly folk might instead craft musical instruments.

There are five rival tribes in this stage, and you progress by either recruiting them to your cause or killing them off. Aggressive tribes will want to offer rival chiefs a gift of food, after which the tribes will become "ambivalent" to your presence, buying you time to build up resources and transform your tribe into an axe-wielding army. Then, when the time is right, gather a massive party, kill the rival chief, destroy their main hut, steal their technology, and eliminate the tribe. To commemorate your victory, add a totem piece to your camp.

Of course, Spore is simply one of the cutest games to appear this year, so many players will want to avoid violence and make friends with other tribes. To do so, you equip your tribe members with musical instruments such as maracas and didgeridoos. Then, make your way to the rival tribe village and talk with the chief. Be sure to switch your posture from aggressive to friendly so the tribe doesn't mistake your caveman orchestra for a hunting party.

You, too, will have the chance to create the galaxy's greatest civilization later this year.

When you talk to the chief, a musical minigame will unfold, and the other tribe will ask you to play one of three musical instruments. Simply answer them by pressing 1, 2, or 3 on the number keys, and the tribe will love your performance, offering to become your allies. New allies, like conquered foes, mean one more piece of totem for your pole.

Even after you've conquered the land with music, axes, or both, your tribe will need further organization. It's time to get civilized! We'll be back with an in-depth preview of the civilization and space stages soon. In the meantime, be sure to check out direct feed of Spore in action.

Written By

Want the latest news about Spore?

Spore

Spore

Discussion

144 comments
firedemon96
firedemon96

@ spuddyt Can you state your source please? ------------------------- I dont like secureROM like a lot of you, and i dont want it in such a fantastic game. While some of you were arguing, i did a little research. I found that every copy right protection program has been cracked in the first few days of release. i say not to worry about secureROM too much, cause a crack will most likely be out in the first week.

bankyoyo
bankyoyo

I want it now!!! I can't wait.

benfiicaboii136
benfiicaboii136

this is going to be realy good game i cant wait to play

t3ch82
t3ch82

Securerom is *checks google...* an anti-pirating software.

ZJ6
ZJ6

what's securerom?

Rayyan92
Rayyan92

This is gunna be awesome Can't wait 2 play it!!!!!!

bankyoyo
bankyoyo

I want to play all phase

furryfrump
furryfrump

looks to be brilliant, can't wait

all4lal
all4lal

i'm definitely gonna buy this game....this is so awsome....now i got 10 more games to buy including this one!!!!

flame_tiberium
flame_tiberium

its like the greatest game ever created!!!!! then comes the securerom and we all know its crappy

johnny27
johnny27

this game looks like it will be great but why does it have to come with securerom?

ghoward79
ghoward79

The ingredients for cake sit in my kitchen daily but they'll never become a cake ever without a "creator" someone to mix them in the right amounts and bake them for the right amount of time. Until the early 19th century people frequently believed in spontaneous generation of life from non-living matter. Classical notions of abiogenesis, now more precisely known as spontaneous generation, held that complex, living organisms are generated by decaying organic substances, e.g. that mice spontaneously appear in stored grain or maggots spontaneously appear in meat.

J2TheB
J2TheB

I think the best way is to simply buy the game (thus owning it legally) and to download the cracked exe which overwrites the securom code, because I'd rather CONTROL MY OWN PC and save my dvdrom and spore dvd than having to sit with all the woo-haa of securom security (which could easily pass for a digital NSA, who has no mercy)

DarwinBC
DarwinBC

Well stop stealing games then we wouldn't have this issue

spuddyt
spuddyt

No, what happened due to the petition was that the SUPER DOOPER EVILERTHANSTALINANDHITLERPUTTOGETHER version of securom was removed, and replaced with something only on the level of saddam hussein

J2TheB
J2TheB

I heard some time ago in a local gaming mag that "Manurom" won't be added to spore, as Maxis protested this, but big ol EA always gets its way it seems.

MiiWiiNumber2
MiiWiiNumber2

i'll only be installing it twice [1 for computer+1 4 laptop] so i dont have 2 worry, i think its gunna b a gr8 game

typeRseries
typeRseries

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

ChaoSXDemon
ChaoSXDemon

Do not buy Spore, because you do not want to have a malware on your computer. Walware = "Malicious Software, designed to infiltrate or damage a computer system without the owner's informed consent." Where the maware come from? SECUROM!!!!! so do not support EA, DO NOT SUPPORT EA.

Asuka-Langley
Asuka-Langley

Spore looks great, too bad it isnt coming out in August :( im so excited about it!

HCMBrainCandy
HCMBrainCandy

My goal is to create the cutest most innocent species of herbivores and become the most demonically evil civ the galaxy has ever seen with them.

jedikevin2
jedikevin2

i'm buying this game regardless of securom. why are you reformating so much amberjade? Learn to ghost your drive and you'll stay in heaven

atrofiado
atrofiado

My creatures are ready to conquer the universe!

amber_jade
amber_jade

I refuse to buy it because of the included securom and 3 time only activation. I reformat my PC around every 6 months, so I'd only be able to play this game for a year and a half without buying another copy. And if I don't like it, Ebayers will be warey about buying it second-hand from me, so I'd probably get next to nothing for it. Not impressed EA... just encourage the pirates again why don't you...

CaptainDingo
CaptainDingo

"Be sure to switch your posture from aggressive to friendly so the tribe doesn't mistake your caveman orchestra for a hunting party." I just had a vision of a bunch of happy stupid little cave people marching towards an enemy town tapping on tambourines. And then being shot in the face.

skrat_01
skrat_01

cant wait, should be a phenominal game.

UlTiMaTe_GaMeR4
UlTiMaTe_GaMeR4

dude who is going on about securom or whatev, dont you have a backup HDD? i got a seagate 160GB with all my games so if i lose them i can just copy em back

Master_Alistair
Master_Alistair

i pre ordered the galactic addition im soo happy! 3 more weeks, cant wait!(it comes out on setember 4 in aus thats thursday)

brian_13un
brian_13un

WOW SPORE i want to have one already i cant wait to the release date

ZacherWol19
ZacherWol19

I need to play right know before i go and kill a couple of people just to get my hands on for a bit :)

why9090909090
why9090909090

This game looks absolutely amazing, i can not wait to get my hands on it!

Matheusor1
Matheusor1

Too bad September 7 is a sunday >.>

Necromia
Necromia

Beware people! What they are not telling you is that this game, like all new EA games, will silently install SecuROM on your PC. There are a whole host of problems associated with SecuROM, including the fact that this game will only activate/install *3 times*, and then you will have to phone EA to reactivate (probably at a premium rate). So, one or two PC upgrades or maybe even driver upgrades, and your awesome game is a coaster unless you can convince EA that you are not a pirate! Check out the discussion on EAs own forums, where most people are now *refusing to buy Spore*: http://forums.electronicarts.co.uk/spore-game-discussion/316297-spore-copy-protection-q.html

sanjeev3
sanjeev3

woohooo, I'm getting this game

paulokoenigkam
paulokoenigkam

omg brasilians.... *joins them* WOHOOO IT'S HOLIDAY XD

FuBi2k
FuBi2k

The gameplay videos look like these guys are playing the game in 1024x768 res. Somebody needs to check the options menu. =P Game still looks like a lot of fun though.

edd1002
edd1002

@Joaovpo yea me too. Brasil!!

Joaovpo
Joaovpo

Haha, september 7 is the day of independence of my country! cool

Devioussdave
Devioussdave

i cant wait for this game to come out! it looks so beast!

MrQuest77
MrQuest77

yea sunday is a bizarre day, but this looks pretty freakin awesome!

Zloth2
Zloth2

Release date of Sept 7 - that's a Sunday! What a weird day of the week to release. I would have expected them to delay until Monday to spread the opening day server crush out a bit.

shadyelf
shadyelf

Pity it comes with SecuROM.

viewtifuljon111
viewtifuljon111

Eh... I've been staying away from the whole Spore-evolution debate, but that first sentence rubs me wrong, Gamespot.

tamd
tamd

maxis ur fantastic