Right, I've done a very, very, very quick subbing job on this:
Will Wright is an ambitious man. With The Sims he created both the ultimate God game and a hugely popular series, so for his next game he had to come up with something big. With Spore he tackles the process of evolution itself. Needless to say, the game has garnered a lot of hype, not only because of what it intends to re-create, but also because if anyone can do it, it’s Will Wright. Of course, something as complex and as, well, infinite as evolution needs simplifying to make a game, and simplified it certainly is. Appealing to the same market as The Sims is an apparent aim, as the two share visual traits and a fantastic sense of humour. This serves as a good indication of how far Maxis has cut down the game's key theme.
Perhaps there has been too much chopping, though, as there is a big jump between the cell and creature stages, as if by magic your creature sprouts legs, arms and a brain. A short phase where your creature works its way up the shore developing its limbs, or even a video showing the same, would have been sufficient to explain the process. After all, Wright has been advocating the supposed educational properties of Spore, and yet the final product uses evolution as more of a basis for what is essentially four different games.
The cellular stage sees the first signs of the creature beginning to appear, as it swims around in the primordial soup, eating, in a cross between Asteroids and Pacman. It is fun, save for some occasionally niggling controls, but it begins to drag towards the end. Luckily this section of the game only lasts around half an hour. The creature stage is essentially the same but in a 3-D world, and with your creature beginning to develop traits. You can ally with, or kill off, other species using the selection of different abilities at the bottom of the screen. This level suffers from not providing much variety in combat or even much strategy - however, this is developed in the tribal phase. Here it becomes more about developing a community; nevertheless the same interaction with other species must take place, only this time with weapons and instruments. At this point the game suddenly becomes less light hearted and there’s an apparent pressure put on the player to jump head first into the action.
With various buildings and vehicles as the focus, your creations are suddenly out of sight. This is a discouragement considering the time already spent with them in previous stages, and it takes away slightly from the feeling of evolving a species. However, it had to happen at some point in the gameplay as the species grows. This stage, though, is when Spore really starts to excel, as the vehicle and building creation menus are just as expansive and varied as the creature creator, and that variety is special. Spore makes your own species the only one to have developed their own town, and suddenly in-fighting begins - an odd move considering the tight-knit community feel the species has up until this point. Despite the greatness of the final two stages, it’s not hard to imagine Maxis rushing the development a little so that they could focus on them. To an extent it’s because of the added complexity present, but the "neglect" - for lack of a better word - apparent in the first three stages only continues to suggest a hurried development.
The creature section in particular could have been truly special had there been interaction with an already thriving species, with towns or cities instead of the entire planet developing at the same rate. Occasionally, though, there are hints towards the future as space craft fly overhead casting shadows on the planet. Looking up at these ships with a young species is a great moment, knowing that some day galactic exploration will be within your own reach. This is just a glimpse of what could have been done: imagine walking through the world and seeing a fully functioning city in the distance, or discovering a small patrol of tanks. The only thing that comes close to this is the inclusion of larger animals. Identifiable by their size and the prefix “Epic”, these monsters are near impossible to bring down. It brings a level of fear to the game and a little realism - you know you can’t defeat them so you actively leave them alone. Other inhabitants of the planet take the form of creations from other players around the world. This feature is a master stroke from Maxis and it allows gamers to see the potential of the software. This shared creations idea also means that your own creature is in someone else’s game, and knowing that they’re living out there, even if you can’t see them, evokes a strange feeling of proudness.
Spore’s crowning achievement, though, would be its space exploration stage; it’s where the whole game comes together and the effects of your past choices become apparent. It’s incredibly addictive through the exploration of new worlds and making contact with other species. It’s where the whole game comes together and suddenly it all makes sense - the game is a gradual build, becoming more complex with each chapter, before the full experience is revealed. At this point the flaws become less important, because replaying these past stages becomes a lot easier in the knowledge of what is to come. The previous phases can still be fleshed out and those problems aren’t forgotten easily, but they are now forgivable. After all Will Wright and co are trying to appeal to that Sims fanbase, and the majority of that particular fan base isn’t necessarily familiar with the genres of games being re-created here. Each level of gameplay becomes more intricate as your creature does, and as their needs become greater, so does the demand on the player. In fact, after the often hectic civilisation stage the space stage is almost tranquil for the most part, despite the quantity of gameplay choices available.
Each individual section of the game may have its flaws and can effortlessly be judged as “too easy”, but ultimately that becomes part of the charm. Without a doubt, though, the game could be better (as could anything), but here there’s a sense of something that can be built upon in the future to create a truly special game. Not to say this isn’t special - it’s an achievement, and the same game by anyone else wouldn’t have quite cut the mustard in the same way. Spore is a great, enjoyable game, but there’s a sense that there’s a better game lurking in the code, and certainly in the mind of Will Wright. With the money at his disposal it’s hard not to think that one day we may see this full vision, and that day can’t come soon enough.
That's the difference between a first draft and a second draft. I've barely changed the content of the actual sentences (with rare exceptions) - it's mainly just a grammar tidy-up.
I've noticed a common mistake in many of the entries in this and past GRWC competitions: the compulsion to join two complete sentences together by way of a comma. My girlfriend does this as well!
It is fun, save some occasionally niggling controls but it begins to drag towards the end, luckily it only lasts around half an hour.
For stuff like this I personally prefer to split it into two separate sentences. Others would stick a semicolon between "end" and "luckily". But the simple comma doesn't work. You need to consider whether it's really one sentence or two. Reading it out loud should tell you.