Spore Creature Creator Review
Spore Creature Creator was released as a brief glimpse for the highly anticipated God game from Maxis, Spore. The Creature Creator is a stand-alone version of a feature in Spore that lets you design creatures and import them to play with in the full game.
When creating your creature you'll start with a faceless blob of clay with a spine inside it, this will be the body of your creature. You can change the length of the spine, make sections of your creature bigger or smaller, move the body and bend the spine as you wish. Onto your body you can place eyes, mouths, arms, legs and other features which can also be manipulated to face different directions, rotate, change size, change length, change height or change width. After you're done creating your basic creature then you can “paint” your creature; you can simply give it a quick pre-made skin or copy over the look of any other creature you have and finish up, or you can individually give it a base, coat and detail texture and colour them. There is a very ample selection of parts of all kinds for your creatures, which can each be manipulated in so many ways that the possibilities of the game seem limitless and hundreds of skin texturing combinations and plenty of colours to choose from further adds to the games appeal. After you've created a creature you can go into 'test drive' and see your creature act out a large variety of animations; the game employs special coding to work out exactly how your creature should realistically move and perform each animation and it does this very well, in fact even in this basic sandbox watching your creature run around and make funny hand gestures is a most entertaining experience.
The freedom of creation is a great thing to have and Maxis have certainly provided it here, but if you're actually planning to play with the creatures you create in the full game you'll need to be aware of the effects all the different pieces you add will have on your creature and although you can sort of work it out for yourself the game doesn't actually do a good job of teaching you about the strategy involved in applying different parts, and even if you are designing a creature to be particularly good at social interaction or to be an omnivore these concepts don't really mean anything until you've played the full game. However the game does keep you from creating the ridiculously advantaged creature by adding a limited number of DNA points with which to buy parts and a complexity meter which when full stops letting you add parts.
The look of all the creatures is somewhat cartoony, but still very smooth. Don't let this put you off though, it doesn't take long to get used to the look of Spore and even if this is still a problem for you any dispute you might have with visuals is enough to put up with for the gameplay. The game also gives you a small taste of Brian Eno's music in this game, the tracks stand at exactly the right place between subtle and intrusive and provide a cool ambience or simplistic beat to accompany play, the music may not be particularly memorable but it provides a very suitable background for your creature creating.
Keep in mind though, that the Creature Creator will cost you £5, not much but for the less creative gamers out there it may not be too long with the game before you get all the play time out of it you're gonna get. If you get the full Spore then you may also encounter another problem, although you can keep all your creatures and bring them on into the full game the game doesn't actually recognise them as your creations even though they have your name on them; so you can't share them with other Spore users and it'll often take longer to find them. You'll probably also want to be aware of the DRM (Digital Rights Management) system that the creature creator uses which means you need an internet connection to play, EA can monitor your actions and you may only have a limited number of installations or accounts available for one disc/download.
All in all Spore Creature Creator is a creation tool like you have never seen before and for the would-be genetic engineers out there even this little snippet of the full game can provide hours of brilliant enjoyment. However DRM issues, possibly limited game time for those less interested in creative tools and a rather shaky transition for anyone wishing to take their creatures forward into the full game means that the creature creator falls just short of what it could be.