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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Lost in the madness over the one-star DRM reviews on Amazon is the fact that Will Wright's long-awaited Spore, by all accounts, isn't actually very fun to play. Every review I've seen, from Edge of the American West to Ars Technica to Easily Distracted, has had basically the same deflated air: somewhere in the development phase the market for this game was swapped from up-all-night Civilization gamers to whenever-I-get-a-chance Sims players. And this is in all respects a tragedy.

Ars Technica, the most positive of the three, says the game drags badly in the middle:

While it's great fun to take your creations from a single cell to the level of planetary conquerors, the phases are very simplistic takes on RTS game-play, which leads me to question how much replay value the game will have. By the time I had most of my world conquered, Spore had begun to feel like the world's largest kiddie pool: five miles wide and two feet deep.
Easily Distracted is much more pointed:
What of Spore itself, however? What a great many gamers have said about the product is that it is a great software toy with design tools that approach genius, but a weak or indifferent game. I’m no different in my assessment. In fact, I think that all-in-all, it’s a worse game than The Sims in terms of its underlying mechanics. Even as a toy, it has some issues.
I mention this first because Abe asked me about it earlier today and second because it's the inevitably disappointing punchline to something I've been looking forward to ever since I heard about it. The lesson: never look forward to anything.

President McCain. You heard it here first.