Crispy Gamer

The Five: Spore

Long Story Short: Spore aims for casual and hardcore gamers alike by offering creative and strategic play.

1. The Spore Creature Creator was just a taste of the customization tools you'll find in Spore. Players will also be empowered to create buildings, air vehicles, land vehicles, sea vehicles and UFOs. There are also breaks between evolutionary leaps where you can outfit your creatures with new bits of bling like top hats or nose rings.

2. Remember how annoying it was to babysit your Sims? Spore ain't The Sims. The game has as much in common with strategy games like Civilization IV and even StarCraft as it does with Will Wright's blockbuster hit. It seems to sit in a nice middle ground between annoying dollhouse play and hardcore micro-management.

3. Your precious creatures aren't alone in the universe. When you play Spore the rest of your world is seeded with other native creatures (and eventually beings from other worlds) by the game designers at Maxis and the Spore community. The life that pops up need not be random. In Spore the universe is what you make it. When you start a game you can choose to play with creatures created only by friends or even chose a tag like "Star Wars" to make sure that Wookies pop up.

4. There are three ways for your creatures to interact with other species. They can be military jerkwads, clubbing (and eventually nuking) anybody who looks at them sideways. More diplomatic players can use the power of the almighty dollar to enslave competing cultures. Religion is best foisted upon populations with poor dispositions. Maybe your deity (he looks just like your creatures) has the answers they're looking for.

5. Spore only looks cute if you want it to look that way. The game's many creation tools give players tons of control over the look and feel of the game. Eventually you'll even have the power to reshape the land, sea and sky to your whims. If you were one of those numbskulls bummed about the bright colors in Diablo III then Spore might be right up your alley.

And God Spoke: Thou shalt not miss out on this fascinating game.

This preview is based on a hands-on demo of the game presentation at E3.