A bit of a disappointment, to be honest.

EA Maxis

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By Ian Dransfield

I feel quite bad, because I'm not quite the prolific review machine that everyone else at Kikizo Towers seems to be. So it makes things all the worse when it's the fault of the game - that's my argument and I'm sticking with it - as to why our review is so slow coming about.

Because I feel I have been cheated, robbed and the victim of underhanded, lowdown tactics by Spore.

Oh yes, it starts all nicey-nice and raises as many smiles as it does questions about its depth, but then it hits - it strikes you in the face and leaves you no room for manoeuvre. It stops being your cute, if dumb little friend and becomes a low-down, snide, cheating little twot of a game, forcing many a slammed mouse, a game turned off without saving in disgust or a punched monitor.

But let's start at the beginning, shall we - apt, seeing as this is Spore, and it starts at the very beginning of a species. And, to put it bluntly, it's not complex enough to offer a challenge - not even to a single-celled organism. Float around, avoid bigger things, eat what you're supposed to eat. That's it.

Then you evolve some legs, and things get a little bit more interesting. Not in the game, this is - that's still shallow and dull, if not charming. No, the interest comes from the Creature Creator which everybody does love so much. Make your little dude a taloned herbivore with seven eyes, make it have massive legs and ears all over its chest, give it arms in frankly ridiculous positions or simply make a giant cock - the possibilities are, as they say, endless.

So obviously I made a giant cock to represent Kikizo. It's the natural order of things. A giant penis with teste/buttocks. And I don't think there's been as much laughter about a game for a long time around here.

Anyway, there are five stages to Spore and, well - there's no real point in going over them, as you'll all clearly know what they are by now. The first one is shit, the second has awful pathfinding and dodgy combat, the third is utterly pointless other than to show your creature's progression, the fourth cheats and the fifth is bettered by the likes of GalCiv 2.

It's difficult not to be impressed by the scope and ambition of Spore, but even the least cynical of you out there surely can't help but feel at least a bit hard done by? None of the genres in the game approach anything like mastery, and only a couple of them are really adequate. Now we shouldn't expect every game ever to cater for the 'hardcore', or whatever it is Nintendo calls them these days, but we clearly don't expect one of the most hyped games of recent years, from one of the most revered developers around, to be so insultingly shallow.

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