Millions upon millions of years of evolution can't have been easy; after all, it took that long... it must have been a bit of slog. Yet here I am, playing a game where I get to evolve out of the primordial sludge into a space faring race that vies for control of the galaxy. Question is, was it as difficult and did it take as long to achieve my new found wealth and glory.
All joking aside of course, Spore puts you squarely at the helm of creation. As a meteorite comes crashing to earth the tiny microbe that will become you springs into life and your journey begins. The first section is great fun and serves as an easy way to introduce you to the creature editor (that's if you didn't buy the dubious Creature Creator). As you advance by either eating other microscopic life, vegetation or both you grow exponentially whilst always trying to avoid the larger predators. Soon enough however (and a little too soon in my opinion), you grow larger than your counterparts and spring legs, thus enabling your first footsteps onto the surface of what may become your world.
Now begins the second phase of Spore as you try to either make other creatures extinct or forge alliances for the greater good. I chose the road of exterminator, attacking other creatures for food and new pieces to use in the creature creator mode. Finding new parts is as easy as walking up to a skeleton, forging an alliance or by eating your foes to extinction. All the while you have the option of calling for a mate so that an egg can be laid and a new chapter in your creature's evolution can evolve. I found this particularly useful when getting attacked by other creatures as they seem to ignore you when you are 'mating'... maybe they are just embarrassed? As soon as the egg is laid you can tinker with your creature's look, appendages and anything else you may wish to adapt or change. Once again there are massive creatures that you really must avoid, I tried to take one down but nearly got wiped out myself... its best just to avoid these huge beasts.
As soon as you have killed off enough of the competition or become friendly with a number of the other creatures living on the planet, your own creature will evolve into a sentient being. This then prompts you to the next stage in your creature's life, the Tribal Stage. Again, this is similar to the stage which preceded it except this time you are in command of your whole tribe. In the Tribal Stage you can build a small settlement using technology you have either stolen or shared with other tribes such as new weapons, or tools for fishing. Again I chose to wipe out the competition and while my tribe were off fighting another person's creation kept stealing food from my village. Food in this section is used as currency to 'give birth' to new members of your clan and to build more buildings.
Once you have defeated enough of the other tribes your creature once again evolves into a new era. This time you are the leader of a civilization, albeit a civilization that is at war with other cities in the world. Again you can choose to forge alliances whilst mining the new currency of Spice. This mode closely resembles an RTS but on a much smaller level, however in this mode you have to design your buildings and vehicles as you will have finalised your creature just before the Tribal Stage (don't worry, they warn you of this so you can really be happy with your creation). At first I found this section to be pretty frustrating after the easier pace of the preceding parts of the game, but once I figured out how to manage my towns properly I quickly built up a huge army and wiped out all the competition, finally claiming the planet for myself. The only problem was that I wanted to get revenge on an earlier mammoth creature that I tried to attack back in the creature stage, sadly it somehow wiped out all of my tanks... so I decided to leave them well and truly alone. Another niggle about this section for me was that you have to create many buildings and vehicles for your creatures but it just doesn't feel as fun as sticking 50 eyeballs on a creature's arm. Perhaps that's just me...
Then comes the final stage of the game which quite literally blew me away with its size and scope. All of a sudden you have conquered your planet (or allied with other cities depending on your choices) and you are thrust into space in your very own 'UFO'. In this final section of the game you are free to traverse the cosmos whilst forging alliances or making terrible enemies. Your ship starts out equipped with very few options - the fun really starts with the abduction beam. I encountered one of these when I was in the second stage, this time however I was the one abducting the creatures. To be honest this section is so big that trying to tell you about everything would take a 50 page essay so I think I will keep to the facts.
Whilst flying around the cosmos you will come across many different planets. Some of these will be barren hunks of rock and some may be lush and fertile planets ready for settlers. In Spore you are given the choice of where to land your settlers but are advised to set them down near to the Spice, the currency of the universe that you can trade with other civilisations to outfit your brand spanking new space ship. I made the mistake of trying to kill off another species in order to steal their planet. This pretty much backfired as they took their planet back and kept up a constant wave of attacks on my home planet. Of course your choices are going to be different from mine and you may well be good at diplomacy, luckily the game lets you travel this path even if you have been aggressive the entire game (like I was); forging alliances can increase trade and open up new items for purchase, certainly a good idea as I needed aid against my new enemy.
Other tools you come across include terra-forming tools that allow you to change the atmosphere of a planet to make it more hospitable and thus generating more Spice from your happy colony. Keep them on an abysmal, dry rock and they won't be too happy. Whilst trying to form alliances with other species you will be given missions to prove your worth, this adds to the extra scope offered in this part of the game, after all you can get through all the other parts in an evening quite easily. In all honesty though I found the other sections of the game to be more creative - luckily once you have unlocked each stage you can go back to any of the associated editors and let loose your playful side.