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Review: Spore

Soulskill posted more than 6 years ago | from the evolution-of-games-and-vice-versa dept.

Games 605

The hype leading up to Spore was excessive. But then, so is the scope of the game; following the growth of a species from the cellular level to galactic domination was an ambitious goal, to say the least. Bringing evolution into the realm of entertainment was something Will Wright hoped and gambled he could do after the success of the Sim franchise. But rather than evolution, Spore became more about creation — creation that allows a single-player game to include the community, as well. It ties the various parts of the game together to make Spore very entertaining as a whole. Read on for my thoughts.

  • Title: Spore
  • Developer: Maxis
  • Publisher: Electronic Arts
  • System: Windows / OS X
  • Reviewer: Soulskill
  • Score: 4/5

The game has five stages: Cell, Creature, Tribal, Civilization, and Space. It's best to think of the first four as mini-games, or as a four-part prologue. Each has its interesting and fun parts, as well as varying degrees of replayability, but the time each of them occupies (from a gameplay perspective) is dwarfed by the amount of time you can spend in the Space age. You can also spend a great deal more time playing around with the content creation system (and you will), but the main plot itself is fairly short in those stages. If you're going in with the expectation of playing around in the Cell stage for hours and hours, you're probably going to be disappointed — but that's not to say it isn't fun. I think each of the stages are appropriately paced for what they involve.

You start out as a cell, hitching a ride on a meteorite that delivers you into a planet's primordial soup. From there you wander around finding morsels of food and other critters who will compete with you for it. The way in which you go about that is up to you. You'll gain access to attributes you can use to customize your microbe, all of which have a "DNA budget." You can make a very efficient killing machine to keep your competitors away from your food, or you can simply make a very efficient eating machine. The editor that allows you to add and remove these attributes also lets you change the size, shape, and coloring of your microbe. It's a combination of very simple components, but the interactions between microbes allow for some cute moments. You'll occasionally run into a big piece of plant life that's swarming with herbivores, and the herbivores will attract a ton of carnivores, making for a frenetic scene of feeding and fighting. You can make your species into what is essentially a tail and a mouth, and have fun zipping around and stealing food out from under fat, slow enemies. You might even see a copy of yourself beating up some bug with way too many mouths. One of the coolest parts about this stage is the background visuals. The focus is on your microbe swimming through the water, but underneath you can see that you're swimming by larger pieces of debris and more advanced life-forms. As you feed, you'll grow into these background layers, so the huge, blurry, tentacled abomination you swam by a minute ago might now be trying to kill you.

Another thing you'll notice is that referring to your species' growth as evolution isn't really accurate. "Stylized evolution" or "not evolution" would have been more precise, so don't go in expecting it to hold up to scrutiny from PZ Myers. It's a decent metaphor for modifying your species, however. The editor is versatile and completely forgiving. Did you put that spike in a useless place for stabbing rival microbes? No worries, you can move it anywhere. Or remove it for a full DNA refund. This may bug you if you want every decision to matter, but as I said earlier, the first four stages are more about setting the table for Space colonization. Also, some decisions do matter. The way in which you interact with the environment determines your initial disposition in the Creature stage. Between stages, you're given a detailed history of your character, including physical revisions and eating habits. Carnivores start the Creature stage with an intimidating roar, while herbivores get a soothing song. Between stages you'll get to see cut scenes; they're short, but they all managed to make me smile. On a related note, I've got to give credit to Maxis for making the most interesting loading screens I've ever waited through. Instead of a progress bar, a series of cards gradually appears at the bottom of the screen. On each card is a different species (or other creation), some of which were made by other players. It's fun to see what they've come up with.

Going into the Creature phase, your microbe is given a set of legs. Your attributes from the Cell stage are mostly useless, and you'll have a chance to completely change how your species looks. You get a nest and a group of compatriots, and you're soon off to seek out new life and new civilizations (and food.) Other species are nearby and easy to find. There are two stances in which you can approach them; social or combat. If you started out as a herbivore, it'll be a bit easier to remain so, but it's not too difficult to change your mind. As you find other species, you're given quests based on the stance you choose. Kill them or impress them. Should you choose to kill them, you mash the attacks available to you until one they die or you do. To impress them, you get their attention and then mimic whatever they do. You'll get some friendly abilities — dance, pose, charm, and sing, each of which has its own animation — and you simply repeat the other species' actions. If they like you enough, they'll ally with you, which progresses you through the stage and allows you to venture out with a group rather than an individual. As you ally with or destroy other species, you gain access to new and more powerful bits of biology — a bigger claw, quicker feet, wings, etc. There's a much greater selection in this phase than in Cell, and it's worth collecting as many as you can. You also get a few cosmetic options. When you exit this stage, your species' physical form does not change for the rest of the game, so make sure you've got what you want. If you go the combat route, you may be annoyed trying to hunt down species that are faster, flightier, or more nervous than you. There were times that I ran so far away to catch Lobstermonkey #4 that I got lost and couldn't find my way back to the nest to kill Lobstermonkey #5 and complete the quest. And this brings me to a gripe...

...The controls. The key-bindings for Spore are fairly simple. They increase a little bit in complexity with each stage, but even the Space controls are straightforward. The trouble is that they aren't alterable, and they aren't what I would pick. They aren't bad choices, and you can do just about everything with the mouse, but if you're the type of player who rebinds WADS to ESDF in every game, or if you like an inverted mouse, or the ability to strafe, it will bother you.

The Tribal stage turns Spore into a miniature RTS game. You won't find Starcraft-level depth or gameplay, but if you've ever played another RTS game, your goals will be intuitively obvious. Your abilities from the Creature stage don't matter anymore, so you're free to design for looks alone. Wandering bands of non-sentient creatures still exist, but they're mainly just food (or pets if you're a herbivore). In addition, though, there are other tribes that you must conquer. You gather resources, pump out peasants, and put up buildings. Rather than creating tribe members for a specific job, you use the buildings to give them a particular task, and you can switch their task at any time. Want this guy to fight? Send him to the axe shop. Need him to impress another tribe instead? Trade in that axe for a horn. Or a Shaman rod to heal others. The focus in this stage is mostly on resource gathering; unfortunately, you have to send tribesmen out each time you want them to kill something, rather than setting them to harvest and forgetting about them. The gathering gets somewhat tedious, but the Tribal stage, like the ones before it, isn't too long. It's fairly easy to win over or beat down your enemies, just keep an eye on your raiding parties around hills. They sometimes get stuck. The AI isn't too hot, but enemies will try to take out your chieftain if they can. The editor in this stage is also less complex. Your species form is set, but you get a variety of hats, clothes, and accessories to outfit your tribe. Not as much room for creativity as in the Creature editor, but there are still myriad ways to customize.

When you reach the Civilization stage, you'll encounter a host of new creation and design tools. You'll be asked to design a city hall, a house, an entertainment facility, and a factory, as well as land, air, and water vehicles. If that sounds a bit overwhelming ... it is. At the start of the stage, I spent perhaps an hour tooling around with designs for a city hall and a land vehicle. You don't need to design the others until you build them, but it doesn't take long for that need to arise. Now, don't get me wrong; designing things is one of the best parts about this game. But after a certain amount of time you'll probably just want to get back to the actual game. Fortunately, there's the Sporepedia, which includes hundreds upon hundreds of designs from Maxis and from other players. Some of them are just phenomenal, and I'm sure the selection will only get better as time passes. Expect to see things out of sci-fi and other games. Expect to see anything Maxis doesn't specifically remove, really. Pick whichever constructions you want out of the Sporepedia to fill out the things you don't want to design, and you're ready to fight for control of the planet. Don't waste your time with the anthem composer. It sucks.

Civilization stage is like another, slightly different RTS. The focus is gone from resource gathering; you point a vehicle at a "spice geyser" and forget about it — once a mine gets built, you even get the vehicle back. It's more focused on vehicle tactics and managing your cities. Other civilizations pop up throughout the world (which is an actual globe now), and you try your best to cajole, scare, or apesmash them into seeing your point of view. You can set yourself up as a religious society to convert the populace of other cities. This stage, like the tribal stage, is straightforward and easy, but entertaining. Your species' history continues to fill out, setting your early disposition for the next stage. Before you think about bumping the difficulty setting up to "high," though, you'll want to give thought to how it will affect the Space stage, since that's where you'll spend most of your time. It has a bit more to throw at you.

Getting to the Space stage is reaching the real meat of the game. You'll be given some starter quests and tutorials to teach you how everything works. Pay attention to them, or you'll regret it later. Really. This stage plays like another RTS, yet is completely different from the previous ones. It isn't about pumping out units to stomp your enemies; you're limited to just one ship to start. As you get promoted, you can add more to your fleet, but not very many. Your colonies will harvest spice for you to sell. How much depends on how well the planet is terraformed. Terraforming a planet is somewhat complicated to learn, but it lets you set up a good financial base, which makes dealing with aliens much, much easier. And believe me, you'll deal with them a lot. Regardless of the way in which you interacted with your foes in previous stages, I'd recommend playing nice at least for the first few encounters of the Space stage. You can run some simple quests for other races to increase your standing with them. You can also bribe them. Once you're in their good graces, you can establish trade routes and alliances, which are much better than the alternative. When you run into a hostile society, you'll see what I mean. They like to raid your planets. A lot. They also like to raid your friends' planets. And your friends will occasionally have crises they need you to deal with. The demands on your attention range from "keeping you busy" to "driving you to distraction." This stage could really use a Leave-Me-Alone slider in addition to the difficulty setting, although cheat codes can accomplish that now. But, if you start out surrounded by friends, it's a lot easier to find time for developing your empire. Again, terraforming is important to learn. It's also the basis for creating custom planets. You get a variety of tools to alter the atmosphere and temperature, and you can bring in flora and fauna to make it more prosperous. But you also get devices that will shape, sculpt, and color the planet to look however you want. Once again, Maxis has provided a huge sandbox to play in. You can control the look and feel of literally hundreds of thousands of star systems.

The combat system is simple, but a bit clunky. Some of your weapons require Diablo-style button clicking, which can be a problem if there are a ton of ships flying around. Battles tend to be lopsided, but the more often you fight, the better weapons you'll have access to. Enemy ships will occasionally beat a hasty retreat when low on health, then stop, heal to full, and turn on you. It doesn't usually change the tide of a battle, but it can be annoying to track them down and finish them off. Other aspects of the game give you more tools the more you participate as well, which is why Spore is so open-ended. Don't want to run around blowing up enemy ships and cities all the time? Do a bunch of terraforming, get good at it, and then cause an enemy homeworld to turn into a burning, hazardous rock incapable of supporting life. Want to explore the galaxy or collect rare artifacts? Feel free, just watch out for the mysterious and powerful Grox. Make sure your borders are secure before straying too far, though, or enemies will pick your empire apart. The Space stage will keep you occupied as long as you're still entertained by it. Building an empire is a job with no end.

Spore isn't about deep, innovative gameplay. If you're looking for a next-generation RTS, look elsewhere. None of the stages, individually, would hold up in today's game market. But all of them combined, in addition to the almost limitless capacity for creativity, make Spore into a good game that will only get better with time and participation. The low learning curve and the ease with which you can pick a point in the game and find something to play around with makes it very appealing to the casual gaming market, while still offering a ton of achievements and ways to squeeze out every last bit of efficiency for the hardcore gamers. Despite the DRM fiasco, it's definitely worth picking up.

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I really need to change my fonts! (5, Funny)

BitterOldGUy (1330491) | more than 6 years ago | (#24934737)

I read the headline as Sore . Thinking is was a first person game to give your opponents herpes.

It gives you something just as bad... (5, Informative)

Moryath (553296) | more than 6 years ago | (#24934779)

it infects your system with a rootkit.

That alone is a reason you shouldn't buy it. Just Say No to DRM.

Re:It gives you something just as bad... (5, Interesting)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935169)

I'm interested - do you guys complaining about the DRM (and I don't like it either) have an issue with buying the console versions?

Re:It gives you something just as bad... (3, Interesting)

Windows_NT (1353809) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935233)

As much As i like opensource, There is nothing wrong with making people pay for your software. I mean shit, I'm a programmer, I sit at a desk all day and i get paid because people buy my software (SUCKERS!). But, then again, I hate consoles, and their damn controllers so i stick tot he computer FPS (yes, i bought Q4 and CS:S) which both work beautifully on linux

Re:It gives you something just as bad... (4, Insightful)

FishWithAHammer (957772) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935245)

To an extent...you *are* still supporting a company that thinks it's OK to DRM their products.

Re:It gives you something just as bad... (4, Informative)

HAKdragon (193605) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935255)

If there were a port for either the 360 or PS3, I would have no problems picking it up. The only "console" port right now is a DS version which only does the "creature" part of the game.

Re:It gives you something just as bad... (4, Interesting)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935297)

I'm interested - do you guys complaining about the DRM (and I don't like it either) have an issue with buying the console versions?

He's the fundamental difference: on a console you put in the CD which is needed to authenticate that you have the disk, but it doesn't actually update the firmware of your system. When you eject the disk, the system is exactly the same as it was before.

On a PC, if the grandparent is correct, then the DRM appears to be fundamentally altering the way your operating system works, possibly making it more unstable/insecure. Installing rootkits is just plain bad.

If you can do DRM without breaking the host operating system, fine. But if you can't, then everyone should yell very loudly about why you shouldn't buy this game.

This is like buying some bling "Type R" headrests for your car and having to pour sand into your engine to make sure you don't also put the headrests into a different car. It's stupid, and shouldn't be tolerated.

Cheers

Re:It gives you something just as bad... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24935273)

DRM is not the same as a rootkit. *One time*, sony used an _actual_ rootkit as part of their DRM, and now thousands of ill-informed noobs think they are the same thing. If you want a demonstration of the differences, I would be happy to install a real rootkit; please post your IP address and I will begin the lesson.

Re:I really need to change my fonts! (2, Funny)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935019)

I'm just baffled by the concept of giving herpes to your opponents...

What exactly do you typically do to your enemies???

Re:I really need to change my fonts! (1)

Lyrael (1196443) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935275)

Obviously, you employ herpes-ridden prostitutes to infect them.

Re:I really need to change my fonts! (1)

BigJClark (1226554) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935111)


I played that game with my ex :(


kidding..... no really :)

Tl;dr; (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24934743)

Could someone sum up the review using one word or less?

Re:Tl;dr; (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24934793)

DRM

Sure (-1, Flamebait)

Moryath (553296) | more than 6 years ago | (#24934809)

How does "Bought" sound?

As in, "EA paid Slashdot a lot of money to get this review placed as news. And they got what they paid for."

Re:Sure (0)

Hyppy (74366) | more than 6 years ago | (#24934981)

My thoughts exactly. I don't think I've seen a game review in months or more, especially not on the front page. It's quite convenient that one for a decidedly mediocre game would appear, right after it had been completely trashed for its draconian DRM. And at a 4/5?

Re:Sure (1)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935231)

There haven't been many reviews recently because not many games are released during the summer. Whether or not Spore deserves 4/5 I don't know, I'm yet to unrar it (hint to EA, it doesn't work).

Re:Sure (5, Insightful)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935031)

Yeah, because theres no way in hell Slashdot would stoop as low as putting up a front page review of one of the most anticipated and talked about games of recent times, now is there? Everything has to be 'bought', or somehow otherwise underhand these days, otherwise someone just isn't happy.

Re:Sure (4, Insightful)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935127)

Spot on, mate. The /. crowd is insanely paranoid about astroturfing, past the point of all rational thought on the subject. It's not like this is the first game review in years, or something. This is a highly anticipated game that a lot of people will enjoy. Saying that this positive review was "bought" is purely delusional.

Re:Sure (0, Redundant)

74nova (737399) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935289)

agreed

Re:Sure (5, Insightful)

fictionpuss (1136565) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935105)

How does "Bought" sound?

It sounds cynical. Without evidence it also sounds childish.

I'm not a regular gamer any more, but I like to keep an eye on titles which push the genres a little - e.g. GTA IV, Little Big Planet and Spore. Even though I run only Linux now, and won't be able to play it anyway, I found the review interesting and not out of place.

Re:Sure (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24935223)

spore works on wine, using 1.13 + special patch that can be found in wine's appdb in spore creature creator section. It runs very well.

Re:Sure (1)

fictionpuss (1136565) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935325)

Sweet - thanks for the tip! I found the Wine/Spore [winehq.org] report page - looks like there are still a few bugs, but very promising.

Not exactly sure (2, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935107)

On one hand, true, I haven't seen a game review here before.

On the other hand, let's face it, Slashdot _is_ running out of newsworthy things for nerds. We have the _Idle_ section on the front page. You know, something as lame as what flames the Slashdot mods received per email. Honestly, filling the space with reviews instead sounds like a step _up_ to me. It _could_ be a genuine experiment in finding some better filler than Idle.

(Mind you, I'm not saying it _is_ so. Just that I'll give them the benefit of the doubt.)

On yet another hand, it _is_ one of the most (A) anticipated and (B) innovative games of the decade. Duly noted, it has a rather annoying and oppressive DRM, and it does miss the mark in a few categories anyway. But it does try to do something new, in a games industry which mostly just pumps out more clones of whatever sold well last year. I see no problem with giving it a fair review, much as the DRM trolls would rather see only "Spore sucks", wall to wall. Yes, the people must be warned about the DRM, but I see no problem with mentioning whether it's otherwise fun to play.

Re:Sure (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935351)

So, there's a way that the word "bought" relates to Spore after all!

Re:Tl;dr; (1)

chalkyj (927554) | more than 6 years ago | (#24934817)

I'd say: Flawed.

I await a patch.

Re:Tl;dr; (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24934867)

lame

Re:Tl;dr; (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 6 years ago | (#24934933)

Executive summary - So-so

Mid-management summary - overhyped, enjoyable, but not really ground-breaking.

It maters not what the review says (5, Insightful)

thermian (1267986) | more than 6 years ago | (#24934781)

The DRM means I will never buy it anyway.

Shame really, but I'm not putting that DRM crap on my system.

Re:It matters not what the review says (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24934887)

SecuRom is awful, as is the stance of most major game companies today.

Go with someone like Stardock or try Mount & Blade if you want a satisfying, DRM free gaming experience with great support and no hassle.

Re:It maters not what the review says (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24934893)

OFF TOPIC
There is a whole thread for you pukes.

Re:It maters not what the review says (3, Informative)

Hyppy (74366) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935007)

Sorry, this is the topic at the forefront of many people's minds when they think about Spore.

You can shuffle back to your manager at EA and tell him I said that.

BAD DRM -5 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24934957)

OK game, but ruined by DRM! Dey Took Our Installs! Check out amazon for the reviews!

FreeSpore? (1)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935013)

Can't code it, I'm just sayin'...

Don't Play On A PC (2, Informative)

nick_davison (217681) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935015)

The same install DVD will install to either your PC or a Mac. If you don't like what it does on a PC, put it on a Mac.

Worth picking up, but... (5, Insightful)

seebs (15766) | more than 6 years ago | (#24934787)

How do I pick it up?

I'm not about to run a Sony rootkit on my machine.

Please explain how I can legally play Spore without the rootkit. (And no, I will not take anyone's word for it that there is not a rootkit in SecuROM. And no, the Mac port doesn't omit SecuROM.)

If you could post an explanation of how I could safely play this game without buying a dedicated machine which will never do anything but play this one game, that'd be great.

Re:Worth picking up, but... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24934825)

Use a pirated version.

Sometimes, life itself is sarcasm...

Re:Worth picking up, but... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24934941)

Not a troll.
This is the only way to avoid the DRM Rootkit.

+5 Informative.

Re:Worth picking up, but... (1)

theonlyalterego (1136037) | more than 6 years ago | (#24934837)

wait for sony to release it for xbox... that'll be the same day they remove the rootkit ;)

Re:Worth picking up, but... (4, Informative)

Recovering Hater (833107) | more than 6 years ago | (#24934873)

If you could post an explanation of how I could safely play this game without buying a dedicated machine which will never do anything but play this one game, that'd be great.

Just wait for it to hit the consoles. Unless it fails so hard that it doesn't get ported. But that is unlikely. DRM SecuROM type tactics are killing pc gaming more than piracy.

Re:Worth picking up, but... (1)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935379)

>> DRM SecuROM type tactics are killing pc gaming more than piracy.

Yeah I get the feeling that this is actually what EA are trying to make happen.
They like console games bacuse:

a) they can charge $60 instead of $45

b) they seem to (mistakenly) think its harder to crack/copy console games.

c) they probably don't have to work as hard to develop a console game than a good PC game as they're not usually as deep. I'm guessing they can also probably re-use more code from their other old console games than you can get away with for PC games.

d) they can get the same customer buying the same game more than once because console games more frequently require the media to be in the drive to play... hence more damaged media.

Its a no-brainer for them really.

Re:Worth picking up, but... (4, Insightful)

thermian (1267986) | more than 6 years ago | (#24934881)

Please explain how I can legally play Spore without the rootkit.

You can't, its that simple, the cracks are all in breach of the license. Its unlikely you'd find one that let you play online still.

Seebs == Idiot (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24934905)

Hi seebs! Still sitting around in web forums trying to pretend you have a fucking clue about console graphics hardware, loser?

Re:Worth picking up, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24934907)

buy it, then try isohunt.com

Re:Worth picking up, but... (1)

martinw89 (1229324) | more than 6 years ago | (#24934913)

Simple. Don't want DRM? Wait for someone to publish a crack and THEN buy the game, if someone hasn't cracked it already. If it takes a little while, you get the added benefit of buying the game used for cheap.

Re:Worth picking up, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24935027)

Sure. First, purchase EA Games. Then, make the executive decision to remove SecuRom.

Other than that, you're outta luck.

Re:Worth picking up, but... (1)

stedlj (62084) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935035)

DRM with a limit of three installs! Not helpfull since I rebuild my system about every 6 months or so! I may buy it if someone comes up with a "simple" crack or it cost $10!

My $.02

Re:Worth picking up, but... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24935043)

The DRM uses activation and counts how many machines you've activated it on. So does the Windows operating system you're most likely to be running on the machine on which you're running Spore. Why do you object to the DRM for Spore so much you won't run it on your machine, but do not object to the DRM for Windows so much as to not run it on your machine? If you're using Linux, well, how did you think you were going to run this anyway, Wine?

Re:Worth picking up, but... (1)

CRiMSON (3495) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935059)

Then you simply don't play...

Re:Worth picking up, but... (2, Interesting)

VoidEngineer (633446) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935103)

Get thee VMWare. Build a virtual machine. Save a backup. Install rootkits and viruses in a contained environment till your heart's content, and you're completely Sporified. Tired? Toss the infected thing in the trash, make a copy of the nice clean backup, rinse, repeat.

How To Detect A Securom Install Attempt? (1)

evilsofa (947078) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935121)

I *think* the answer may be Process Explorer, because Securom really, really hates Process Explorer: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb896653.aspx [microsoft.com]

But I have not actually looked into this. I'd like to take this opportunity to ask:

How can a user set things up so that the user is notified when Securom attempts to install itself, and allow the user the choice of going forward with the install or not?

I ask this because Securom has a nasty way of installing itself when the user least expects it - for example, from the Bioshock demo and from the Spore Creature Editor demo.

Re:Worth picking up, but... (4, Interesting)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935153)

Does it work in a virtual machine?

Otherwise, you can play it and then reformat the hard drive.

How to Build a Better Being (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24934791)

Just gotta make this little plug for work. Don't forget to watch "How to Build a Better Being" [nationalgeographic.com] on the National Geographic Channel tonight at 10.

It's a pretty good game... (5, Interesting)

atari2600 (545988) | more than 6 years ago | (#24934805)

But I have a major complaint - while you are exploring the deep stretches of the galaxy and traveling to unknown locations using blackholes, you get these fucking annoying alerts

"Please eradicate diseased stuff on Planet X" - I can totally keep doing that when I am near the planet but on the other side of the galaxy? Fuck you . You get penalized for ignoring those requests/quests.

Your homeworld gets attached by alien UFOs - I mean what's the point in having your homeworld surrounded by 50 allied alien races if they cannot come to your aid while you are on the other side of the galaxy?

Those gripes aside, the space age is pretty much as is the rest of the game.

Not interested in pretty spyware. (4, Insightful)

scubamage (727538) | more than 6 years ago | (#24934807)

No rootkits allowed on my machine, sorry. You can decorate a piece of shit to look like the Venus Di Milo, but that doesn't change the fact that it's a piece of shit at heart.

Re:Not interested in pretty spyware. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24934857)

I'm not sure what Barack Obama has to do with it...

No Mention of Creature Creator (3, Interesting)

russlar (1122455) | more than 6 years ago | (#24934815)

All that summary, and no mention of how well the creature creator ties into the actual game.

Re:No Mention of Creature Creator (4, Informative)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935321)

Those zany, wacky creatures you made in the months before Spore was released? You're not going to be using them until after you've finished evolving. You can start over with those old races once you have reached that point, but getting there involves popping into and out of the creator to add new bits that you find on the bloody ground and very occasionally wrest from other species. In the context of Spore as a game, the Creature Creator is more of an Editor.

Rreview (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24934841)

I wish that the review was on a scale of 1-10 like slashdots horrible book reviews. 4/5 tells me nothing.

Re:Rreview (1, Troll)

Hyppy (74366) | more than 6 years ago | (#24934937)

Easy. 8/10. I lurned my fracshuns in elamentry skool.

It's a Family game (4, Informative)

PIPBoy3000 (619296) | more than 6 years ago | (#24934845)

I played a bit of Spore and found it somewhat fun, if not greatly gripping. My five and nine year-old kids love it, though. It's been incredibly cute to watch my five year-old talk about all her adventures as a cell, though I admittedly had to correct her use of "flagella".

I'm withholding judgement until I play each stage, but so far my kids have loved the creature creator aspect as well as exploring to see what's over the next ridge.

I think they did a great job leveraging the content that everyone is creating and put it back into the game. I'm big into creating Neverwinter Nights modules, so I'm familiar with some of the traditional methods. This new approach is very innovative (if perhaps slightly devious). I love the fact that players create content as part of the game, which then gets shared with everyone else.

Re:It's a Family game (1)

virgil_disgr4ce (909068) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935133)

though I admittedly had to correct her use of "flagella"

Yeah, kids are always getting their flagella into awful places, and just TRY to get them to wash them!

Re:It's a Family game (0, Troll)

PlatyPaul (690601) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935173)

I'd like to point you to this review [amazon.com] (and this one [amazon.com] , and...).

Not acceptable, and yet another mark against this (DRM-infested, over-hyped, mediocre) game.

Looked for a rootkit on the Mac version (4, Interesting)

SilentChris (452960) | more than 6 years ago | (#24934859)

Unless the couple of *nix-based rootkit detectors I've run are totally clueless, they haven't found anything. There *is* a Securom folder under: /Users/Chris/Library/Preferences/SPORE/Creature Creator/Preferences/p_drive/User/Application Data/SecuROM

but it looks more like a remnant of Cider's emulation than anything.

If all Securom does on Mac is DRM-ize Cider, I could care less. It's like getting a virus in a VM.

Oh, and the game rocks. Very enjoyable (as long as you're not looking for Civilization -- if you are I recommend FreeCIV or any number of commercial alternatives).

Re:Looked for a rootkit on the Mac version (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24934945)

What directory layout is that? GoboLinux?

Re:Looked for a rootkit on the Mac version (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 6 years ago | (#24934971)

What directory layout is that? GoboLinux?

Duh, gee. I dunno...

Re:Looked for a rootkit on the Mac version (1)

klapaucjusz (1167407) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935101)

What directory layout is that? GoboLinux?

Mac OS X [wikipedia.org] . You may have hear about it, it's a hybrid of CMU Mach and FreeBSD recombined with NeXTstep.

And Barack Obama is doing a full Hindenberg! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24934879)

I just love the morphing of the arrogant, pompous, and self-absorbed "We are the ones we've been waiting for!" into the self-pitying wails of "Oh the humanity!" Because you the Obamatons are mutttering to themselves that all of humanity - nay, the entire Universe - will fail because it spurned The Messiah of Hopey Changey.

Those mutterings and wails just warm the cockles of my heart!

haa HAAA!

PS - Obama and Biden both voted not once but twice to fund the infamous "bridge-to-nowhere". The second time, in opposition to an amendment from Sen Coburn that would have used the money for Katrina relief.

PPS - Mod me down. Mark me as a troll. So what. I'm still laughing!

Re:And Barack Obama is doing a full Hindenberg! (1)

CorporateSuit (1319461) | more than 6 years ago | (#24934989)

So you're in the middle of the tribal stage?

Re:And Barack Obama is doing a full Hindenberg! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24935023)

One word for you: Bush.

haa HAAA!

Re:And Barack Obama is doing a full Hindenberg! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24935369)

You left off one word. That should be President Bush.

As opposed to Senator Obama.

Notice how Hillary won't attack Palin? Notice how Hillary's people have called attacks on Palin "sexist", and how Hillary won't be Obama's "attack dog"? Notice in the news today that Obama's funding is drying up? And one of the reasons is Hillary's people are pointedly not donating to Obama?

And one last thing: notice how McCain's gone from 7 down to 10 up in some polls?

haa HAAA!

That's no "bounce". "Bounces" are in the 5% range - at most. That's a fundamental shift in the electorate that's only now really beginning to pay attention to politics. Because only now have the two parties have selected their nominees.

PS - and I'm not in the middle of any stage. I'm in the BEGINNING of my "lauging my ass off at Obamatons" stage. I figure it'll last about two months, with a wonderful ending.

It's not a game.... (5, Insightful)

HerculesMO (693085) | more than 6 years ago | (#24934885)

It's a toy.

You just muddle around in the world, you play here and there, and don't accomplish much of anything.

While it's a neat 'toy', for a *gamer* like myself it's ridiculous. Besides, while I love Will Wright, and I *want* to support him -- he knew what EA would do, I'm sure he was aware of the DRM scheme, and he let it go in. While it might be ignorance on his part, I will not buy this game in an effort to send that message that even a good game developer will not be tolerated if they infuse their brilliance with the stupidity of draconian DRM.

That said, Pirate Bay is very appealing in this instance and has been for me to determine it's not worth buying anyway, DRM or not.

Re:It's not a game.... (1)

N8F8 (4562) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935373)

Sounds like life in the corporate world.

Multiplayer (5, Interesting)

PenguinBob (1208204) | more than 6 years ago | (#24934899)

I think it could really use a multiplayer where you and friends could be in the same "world" and be able to help/complete with each other.

Re:Multiplayer (1)

reemul (1554) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935179)

I wouldn't bet real money that EA won't add multiplayer in an expansion pack in the next 12 months if the demand is high. Depends on how the DRM fight plays out I'd suppose, but if the core game sells well, we'll be in for add-ons out the wazoo, like The Sims. All of the non-DRM complaints I've seen have been "I like x, but I wish it had more options/better ai/extra something". To me that says, we laid the framework in the original, but we're gonna charge you extra for all the pieces you thought were missing. Compared to MMOs that bill you every month, they may think that gamer budgets can cough up a stream of funds rather that once and done or waiting for major upgrades.

Good review (5, Insightful)

GoNINzo (32266) | more than 6 years ago | (#24934959)

I think the OP did a solid job with the review. You didn't get caught up in the DRM issue, which is a big one. Good job on it.

My biggest disappointment so far are the controls, the camera to a degree, and the lag. The lag is particular bad when you land on a planet for the first time. I wouldn't mind a longer wait screen, but when I have 6 minutes to find one particular creature, and it takes 2-4 minutes for the landscape to finishing rendering, it sucks. This particular shortcoming is killing my fun in the later stages of the space game. The 'radar' sucks too, as it doesn't start working properly until the landscape renders. (Imagine the 'pop in' problem on loading textures, but it's not just textures but entire cities.)

The lack of a randomize button on a lot of different creatures is sad too. Sometimes I don't care how the building or ship works, and I'd rather use something unique. heh

Re:Good review (4, Insightful)

Lostlander (1219708) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935235)

So, you don't think that a game that has this bad of DRM on it isn't encumbered or made lesser by the DRM itself? A review without the DRM is in itself an incomplete review.

To quote the ever popular car analogy it's like a car that you can only ever park in your garage. Park it anywhere else including somewhere in your driveway and your car won't start until you call the manufacturer and have it restarted.

Interesting (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24934975)

DRM turns Sore into a bore. Thanks but no thanks.

DRM should be mentioned in reviews (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24934983)

It is the only way to get the word out there - any reviews should mention the type and invasiveness of the DRM scheme.

Otherwise the review is a disservice to the potential buyers of the game. Maybe even mention some of the side effects of the rootkits - which they effectively are - such as meddling with the ability to burn cd's on some PC's/drives.

Slashvertisement? (-1, Flamebait)

Recovering Hater (833107) | more than 6 years ago | (#24934985)

Review: Spore Posted by Soul shill on Tuesday September 09, @12:15PM from the evolution-of-games-and-vice-versa dept.

There. Fixed that for you.

Re:Slashvertisement? (2, Informative)

PlatyPaul (690601) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935205)

If you think it's a slashvertisement, I strongly encourage you to tag it as such and Firehose it down.

Already did it myself.

for the brain dead (3, Funny)

phordicus (1356499) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935003)

after trying to play for about half an hour, i got bored, gave the game to my wife, and re-installed master of orion 2.

Controls Correction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24935009)

You can use WASD to control your creature/vehicles. Both the arrow keys and WASD work by default.

Re:Controls Correction (2, Interesting)

Remus Shepherd (32833) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935337)

My problem with the controls is that they change between phases. In the creature phase, you move using WASD and look around with the mouse. In the tribal phase that's reversed -- you rotate and move the camera with WASD and move your selected units with the mouse. And, as stated, the key bindings are non-customizable.

Design decisions like that have diminished this game for me. The reviewer says it has a 'low learning curve', but it has you climb up the learning curve over and over and over again. And the penalties for not being a master of all the controls and tactics can be harsh, especially in the space stage. I worry that kids who love the creature stage will bawl with frustration when they set foot into the galaxy.

It's an okay game. I'd give it 7/10, and will probably stop playing it much after a week or so.

DRM (1)

Jason1729 (561790) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935053)

I was also looking forward to this game for ages but I'm not buying into the DRM crap.

Re:DRM (1)

thermian (1267986) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935109)

I was also looking forward to this game for ages but I'm not buying into the DRM crap.

The same thing stopped me from buying Bioshock too.

  Probably a lot of other people felt the same way, because for such an apparently great game, it didn't waste much time before landing on the cheap shelves.

Re:DRM (1)

Jason1729 (561790) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935221)

I'm sure it's got to hurt their sales figures. I really don't understand their logic since it's so easy to get a pirated version all they're doing is hurting the legitimate customers. It's like they'd rather have 2 people download pirate versions than 1 person pay for it and share it with a friend.

I'm not even sure I'll pick it up in the clearance bin in a few months because it will still have this DRM. I still have my original Sierra games (the floppies actually still work), and I play them from time to time. Why would I pay $50 or even $5 for a game I can't play in a few years if I get a craving for it?

Will it evolve... (2, Funny)

Quantos (1327889) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935055)

to the point where the DRM disappears?

Evolution, creation, meh. (4, Funny)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935091)

Apparently what we have is unintelligent design.

If EA is reading this (-1, Flamebait)

spleen_blender (949762) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935099)

If you're reading this, EA, I will pirate this game. That is the only way I can think of to teach you that you can't try to control my computer. Not wise to treat your customers like criminals.

Re:If EA is reading this (5, Insightful)

MaineCoon (12585) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935225)

So you'll live up to the expectation and act like a criminal. Yeah, really bright.

Let's try an analogy:

That's like walking into a store you've never been, and the owner keeps an eagle eye on you because he doesnt recognize you and suspects you might try to steal something, so in return you steal a candy bar.

Yes, software piracy is not physical theft, but your attitude is a good mirror of the situation I just described. Rather than simply saying "I won't buy it," threatening to pirate it is actually ENFORCING and ENCOURAGING the decision for further, stronger DRM.

The DRM isn't nearly as bad as people make out (it is NOT a root kit - it installs a Ring 3 service, which is the least privileged, but only if you aren't running under an admin account), and I would not be surprised if EA ups or eliminates the install limit a month or two after release.

It does have one advantage: I don't need the CD to play.

Hopefully the backlash makes EA change it's mind regarding Securom, but attitudes like yours are the least helpful of all.

Creature Creator: Issue with Video Card (0)

EvilIntelligence (1339913) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935113)

I'm not even going to bother buying Spore. I downloaded their trial of Creature Creator and tried to install it. It instantly told me the model of my video card was not sufficient, and it simply did not allow me to install. It said that if I wanted to install it on that machine, I had to upgrade my video card. WHAT NERVE! If I want to install it on a machine with a lower model video card, who's business is it besides my own? So what if my game runs slower! Does EA have some sort of arrangement with ATI and NVIDIA to force people to upgrade video cards? I'm not about to pay for some company to stick their nose in my computer where it doesn't belong. They can keep their damn game, no matter how good it is.

My own review (5, Informative)

Chemisor (97276) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935125)

I guess this is a good place to link to my own review [slashdot.org] , which isn't as good as this one, and so did not make the front page.

Re:My own review (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24935185)

The game is actually fun to play, and my 9 year old loves it. Why is this significant?

He's learning about biology. And he doesn't even realize it.

I'm not talking about just the psuedo-evolution turned into gameplay - the show created by National Geographic was very cool and explored some very interesting ideas.

As far as being disappointed, I'm definitely not. I didn't think this was going to be some titanic, earth-shattering game, it is fun to play, and will hopefully open up some people to wanting to learn some of the real world pieces of biology, evolution, etc.

P.S. Enough about the DRM stuff. Have fun twiddling your rootkits :p

Game vs. Experience Score (5, Interesting)

nick_davison (217681) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935259)

As a pure game... the 4/5, 8/10 ratings are about fair. It's a good but not amazing game that leaves you with a sense you'll have seen pretty much everything within a few days and then be left kind of tweaking around before letting it gather dust.

But...

It's also one of those games that just has "landmark experience" stamped all over it. Black And White was a slightly worse game yet, even with a more limited scope, is still discussed as being a key moment in gaming history where people's eyes were opened.

There has never been a game with this quality level of procedural animation and texturing. There has never been a game with such a stunningly easy to use editor that lets you build incredibly complex vehicles and texture them in a couple of minutes with absolutely zero experience in modelling and texturing. There has never been a game with cross pollenization of content like Spore.

I've been gaming for way too long. I still count Elite as my greatest game of all time for just how utterly beyond what anyone else even contemplated at the time (3D, huge universes, flight, you name it). I still remember the ultimately kind of boring but amazing for what you could create Disney's Stunt Island. I remember the movie feel of the original Wing Commander and finally having characters that felt like they mattered getting killed off. I remember Dungeon Master finally giving a real feel of being in actual dungeons even if it was 90 degree block movement. I remember Sim City and Sim Earth blowing me away with their depth. I remember the Lemmings taking the 2D everyone thought was dead and slapping it upside the head with its new mechanics. I remember getting blown away by the scope of Ultima Underworld, my first time on a MUD and stepping in to EverQuest for the first time...

This game is going to be one of those memories. Even if the game itself gets old kind of quickly, the sheer volume of new things it introduces, that are going to be copied and used in differing combinations in games from here on out... For me, it makes it unmissable.

In several years time, when I pick up Doom V, I'm expecting to see an editor that doesn't take a degree to master but instead lets me quickly throw in corridors, rooms, doors, gun turrets with the ease of Spore's building editor. Instead of dropping in generic creatures or spending weeks building them, my NPCs are going to take me five minutes to drag custom shapes on to, slap on a few cybernetics that already have properties assigned and then drop on a bigger gun that it already knows what to do with. I'll drop a tank that I threw together in five minutes in... then decide I don't like it and quickly change it out with a six legged walker. In two or three hours, I'll have a huge mod, completely different to anyone else's, with all new creatures, weapons, vehicles, buildings, etc.

At that point, gaming will be take as big a leap forward as it did when Doom first introduced WAD files and modding.

And I've no desire to have missed that moment's birth because I thought Spore might get boring after a couple of days.

So...

Game: 8/10, maybe even 7/10

Innovation/had to be there: 15/10

Ultimately: No brainer purchase for people who like being a part of gaming, not just playing the latest flashy shooter.

The DRM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24935283)

This might have come off to be a great game. What I am hearing from other places is mediocrity in play, boring repetition, and at the heart, DRM. Even if this was a fantastic game, DRM overkill removes the attraction.

I buy games with replay value as one of the highest priorities of what I like or dislike. Not much future game playing in a game that does the same thing over and over. Here the DRM removes that future. I may be buying a new computer down the road, may have to format the hard drive a few times, or deal with a virus or the like. Making such restrictions means that two years from now, no matter what the reason, this game is worthless. The money paid for it gone and there is no future play value.

I would expect this sort of draconian DRM to be present in free "try it" sessions but not in "paid for". EA is punishing the very ones it should be rewarding; those that spent money on the game. That's a poor way to treat your customer. Only solution I see here is pirating the game to get an idea of how good it is while not having to put up with the BS.

The only one taking the hit for this is the paying customer. I won't be one of those with this type of setup.

doesn't live up to expectations (2, Informative)

speedtux (1307149) | more than 6 years ago | (#24935285)

following the growth of a species from the cellular level to galactic domination was an ambitious goal

It's a good game, but it's still a fairly traditional combination of elements: a bit arcade style action, a bit of Civilization. You can also think of it as a bunch of different variants of a game all rolled into one.

However, it's not the artificial life game that it could have been, and it has nothing to do with species or evolution. Furthermore, there isn't a lot of variation in the game play depending on your choices, so in some ways, it's actually worse than many other games.

newerakb (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24935347)

If the DRM is preventing you from buying the game, just go ahead and buy the game, but don't even bother opening the package. Download a pirated, cracked copy and play that one guilt free, knowing that you actually paid for the game.

How are you guys getting past the install problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24935393)

I'm zero for six on the install. It failed for me on six different systems from Windows XP SP1 to XP SP3 to Vista to Server 2003. EA support blamed my IE configuration since they say it requires unsigned ActiveX controls to install, but they didn't know how to fix the problem.

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