Spore Galactic Edition

Posted by staff | Posted in PC and Mac Games | Posted on 07-07-2010

5

  • Create Your Universe from Microscopic to Macrocosmic – From tide pool amoebas to thriving civilizations to intergalactic starships, everything is in your hands.
  • Evolve Your Creature through Five Phases – It’s survival of the funnest as your choices reverberate through generations and ultimately decide the fate of your civilization.
  • Explore Other Players’ Galaxies – Will your creature rule the universe, or will your beloved planet be blasted to smithereens by a superior alien race?
  • Share with the World – Everything you make is shared with other players and vice versa, providing tons of cool creatures to meet and new places to visit.

Product Description
Maxis, makers of The Sims, present the next big bang – SPORE. Create your unique creature and guide it on an epic journey through a universe of your own creations. Play any way you choose in the five evolutionary phases of Spore: Cell, Creature, Tribe, Civilization, and Space. How you play and what you do with your universe is entirely up to you. Spore gives you a variety of powerful yet easy-to-use creation tools so you can create every aspect of your universe: cr… More >>

Spore Galactic Edition

Comments posted (5)

The game has been just released. But I am not going to buy it. I used to a have a standing pre-order but not anymore, that has been long canceled. I gave EA a chance to mend its ways but it failed. Here is why.

This is a warning Review. Warning of the dangers of the harbored Digital Rights Management (DRM) subroutine that comes unavoidably bundled with the game. This type of DRM (SecuROM 7x with Limited Installations) is well known as it has already been used in at least two other games (BIOSHOCK & MASS EFFECT). So my review is based on first-hand experience of a core aspect of the game.

Apparently EA would rather keep its customers in the dark. That is why, in the past month, EA Forums got censored, Wikipedia entries selectively edited and Amazon reviews repeatedly deleted. What is worse, Amazon (possibly without knowing it) is breaking the law which requires the full disclosure of bundled snoop-ware.

LIMITED INSTALLS? Yes, LIMITED INSTALLS!!! We only get to ride this shiny pony for…3 laps! The official announcement mentions “on 3 different computers” but avoids to clarify what a “different computer” makes: will changing the graphics card trigger the loss of a token? what about attaching a new hard-drive (internal or external) or adding a new user account. All the above have been reported to subtract installation tokens from BIOSHOCK or MASS EFFECT – and EA has intentionally left this area dark gray.

Moreover, in order to enforce the limited installations, exactly like BIOSHOCK, there will be IRREMOVABLE FOLDERS placed in our systems’ Root that will effectively revoke our Administrator rights to our own PCs! Short of reformatting, there is no deleting them even if logged in as Administrators.

Is EA trying to pave the way towards a nightmarish future where PC gaming will be a continuously-billed service (such as direct-Pay TV) and not a product?

Is EA trying to trigger a lemmings stampede towards the Pay-per-Play cliff, where gamers will be regarded as herded cows to be milked over months and years?

Is the Company trying to turn our PC systems (that we bought and paid for) into their proprietary consoles, hence monstrosities such as SecuROM that offer zero anti-piracy protection?

According to statements by their own spokespersons (such as John Riccitiello, CEO of EA) the answer to all of the above question is YES. However, I want to make clear that none of these statements had any impact on my rating of this game. The game has enough troubles as it is…

Is it fair to rate badly a game based on its short duration or bad graphics? How about its instability and bugs? How about harboring potentially dangerous subroutines that will render it useless within a 12-16 months? You see how this is going?

In the end, after all is said, with SPORE it boils down to this: who will actually be owning my copy? Are we to pay $50 only to…RENT this from its publisher, be potentially pestered with the insulting need to prove our purchase forever and place our hardware and data in danger?

And what makes this even harder to understand: will such extreme measures actually prevent piracy? Of course NOT! They did not work for similarly DRM-plagued BIOSHOCK or MASS EFFECT, why should they start working now?

So, one has to ask: what is next in store for customers that make the mistake of buying such a product? Will they be required to pay again to buy another copy of the game when the first one expires?

Is THIS the solution that EA executives came up against piracy: since they cannot stop piracy, let’s make all our paying customers PAY TWICE to make up for their million dollar bonuses?!

NO THANKS! No game is worth such harassment!
Rating: 1 / 5

The game incorporates a draconian DRM system that requires you to activate over the internet, and limits you to a grand total of 3 activations. If you reach that limit, then you’ll have to call EA in order to add one extra activation. That’s not as simple as it sounds, since when you reach that point EA will assume that you, the paying customer, are a filthy pirating thief. You will need to provide proof of purchase, reasons why the limit was reached, etc, etc (it has all happened before with another recent EA product, Mass Effect). EA, of course, is not obligated to grant you that extra activation or even provide that service. In a couple of years they might very well even shut down the general activation servers, because “it’s not financially feasible” to keep them running. What you will be left with is a nice, colorful $50 coaster. And you will be required to pay for another copy/license if you want to continue playing.

This basically means that you are actually RENTING the game, instead of owning it. The game WILL stop to function in the future. That’s inevitable, because even if EA keeps the activation servers going, there IS going to be a time when EA will simply cease to exist because of financial issues or federal laws (like most businesses eventually do).

Second, the game was dumbed down to oblivion. Evolution doesn’t even matter anymore. For example, you can add as many legs to a creature as you want, but the multilegged creature won’t be any faster than a single legged one with higher leg stats. This gameplay element makes “creating” your creatures entirely pointless (cosmetic only, because everything is based on stats), and brings you about the same amount of excitement as dressing up a plastic doll.
Rating: 1 / 5

*** 12 Sep 08 Update ****

I received a reply to my question from EA. It was boilerplate and mostly PC-centric. It, too, pointed to articles containing busted links (do they ever test?) and was no help.

However, after keeping a watchful eye on the web, it turns out that people have discovered that you MUST have admin rights to run the game. I granted it to the purpose-created SPORE account and the game connects and runs.

Why couldn’t EA say that in the doc/install/README/reply? Sheesh.

Admin rights to play a game — ugh! — tosses all hopes of parental control and system integrity out the window.

*** Original review ***

My kids and I have been awaiting SPORE for what seems like forever.

We have a spiffy Apple Macintosh iMac with the latest, up-to-date OSX. Each family member has a separate user account on the machine (mostly so I can limit the amounts and time of day the kids can be on the system). As with most software, I installed in with an administrator account. Uh-oh. It seems that only the installing user can *use* the game! No one else can access it. They get unhelpful messages that they cannot connect to the SPORE servers and perhaps there is an internet problem; the original installing user, however, has no such problem. I could not find this documented anywhere in the installation instructions. I dug around the EA SPORE support site — the one with many links that don’t appear to work — and found a warning that only one EA user can use the game, but that you could have multiple people use that account if they each pick a separate planet to form. Ugh.

I’ve read about the three-install issue, but I thought the prudent thing would be to de-install it, create a SPORE user account for all to share, and reinstall it there. De-install is a semi-manual process on a Mac (the initial README talks about it, I believe, as does a terse posting at the support site). So, I tossed the application folder and stuff from the user directory and then re-installed it under the new SPORE user on the Mac. It doesn’t work. Same as before — you can’t connect to the SPORE servers, but no other message.

I now sit with three frustrated kids, waiting for a response from my support mail to EA.

Sigh.

I expected far more.

Rating: 1 / 5

I really wanted to like this game, after the years of buildup, Will Wright’s history of innovative design, and the (in)famous GDC demo of Spore (look it up on YouTube if you want to see what I thought they were going to publish, from a tech demo years ago). What got delivered was a severely simplified collection of minigames slapped together with some overly cute animations, shallow play, badly thought-out and misbalanced endgame (space phase), with one of the worst and most personally offensive copy protection schemes wrapped around it. In interviews post-release, Wright has basically confirmed that what was wanted by the publisher (note: not by the customer) was a simple game for casul gamers that would have superior sales, e.g. Sims 2. Unfortunately what they wound up with was a game that’s too simple even for hardcore Sims fans in the early phases and perplexingly difficult in the last phase even for hardcore players, not because the game is actually more difficult, but because it’s very poorly thought out.

OK, DRM scheme first, since that’s what people are up in arms about and what some 5-star reviewers are apparently confused by. This version of SecuROM limits you to 3 activations, after which you can maybe possibly get more if you call EA support (toll call with long wait times and poor response) with a convincing explanation, after which they may or may not honor your purchase. In many cases, the answer is not judging by previous titles that use this limited activations scheme (Bioshock, Mass Effect) and the customer nightmares that ensured. An activation by the way is not the same as an installation; installations are a subset. An activation includes a fresh OS install, major hardware change, MINOR hardware change such as plugging in a USB device… nobody can actually tell you what constitutes an activation.

Furthermore, SecuROM, while not as overtly offensive as Starforce, does in fact install registry entries and administrator-level monitoring software in your system without your knowledge, and it cannot be removed without either a drive wipe or a multistep command line process that I would not recommend to a casual user. It gets installed as soon as you start up Spore for the first time, and you don’t get told this. It is therefore part of the product and is a legitimate topic to discuss in a review (for everyone who thinks you shouldn’t rate the game low because of the DRM).

The gameplay itself is charming and amusing… the first time you play it, I suppose. The first time I played it, not trying to powergame through, I made it to the space stage within a few hours, without even trying to. This was the point that I looked back at the gameplay and wanted to know, “Is that it?” And it pretty much was.

For those people who are offended by the idea that the game espouses evolution, don’t bother. There is no actual evolution in this game. There is absolutely no natural progression from one form to the next. As long as you have the parts available, you can change from a six-winged butterfly thingy to a gazelle with nine eyes to a landgoing slug that spits poison. Your environment doesn’t force any changes on you whatsoever.

The first four phases of the game (cell, animal, tribe, civilization) are incredibly simplistic versions of other genre games, and are over before you know it. At the end of each one, when I was suddenly winning without knowing how, it actually felt more like I had finished one phase of a tutorial for a bigger, more interesting game that I never got. In the cell game, it’s move, eat, avoid, win. In the animal game, it’s eat, attack (using the 1-4 keys), impress (also using the 1-4 keys), win. In tribal, well things get slightly more complex as you have to pick out clothing and huts, but it’s still get food, impress or kill, win. In civilization, you think FINALLY here’s where thingsget interesting, but only in that instead of fighting/impressing, you now have the choice of buying (with trade), killing (with military) or converting (with religious), combined with a mini-city builder game that plays more like Connect Four than Sim City.

The space phase is fairly difficult, but this is only because of logical inconsistencies and missing systems in the game. Without going too in-depth, here are some of the highlights: your empire can afford to terraform planets, bribe empires, and the like but can’t build a second ship to help you out. Your empire also cannot send out a few guys with guns to hunt down diseased animals, and have to commandeer your ship (its ONLY ship) to fly around the planet, zapping sick deer with a laser. Your cities have auto-defense turrets that don’t fire on the enemy. Your empire is incapable of setting up regular shipments of spice (apparently the only commodity anyone wants), and require you to move it around yourself, in between shooting sick deer, pirates unmolested by planetary defense turrets, and paying for city upgrades. What, don’t planets have tax bases to put up their own houses? No, apparently it’s up to you, the commander of the only ship in the empire, to put up condos for your hapless people.

I won’t even go into the bugs involved in basic installation of the game, authentication errors, buggy Sporepedia, C: drive overflow (even if you install in a different drive/partition, everything goes into the My Documents folder which is in C: by default), ONE ACCOUNT PER INSTALLATION (this was supposed to be allowed and even says so in the basic edition’s manual, but apparently they considered this to be a typo… even with the change account buttons present in the UI), and other numerous technical problems. You can go check the EA forums for some of those before they get deleted or locked down.

In conclusion, I have to say that you should not buy this product due to its poor shallow gameplay, insidious and anti-consumer DRM, and most of all 3-install limit. But the real question is not why would you NEED to install more than 3 times; we know the answers to that, and they are totally legitimate. The question is why you would WANT to install it even once.
Rating: 1 / 5

Here is the deal, EA added copy protection that only allows you to install the game 3 times. So if your computer gets too many viruses and you have to format then boom there goes 1 install. Then say you get a new computer or new hard drive, boom there goes another one. Finally the game will be unplayable and you will have to buy another copy. There is currently a class action lawsuit against EA because of this.

The game it self is rather fun but VERY VERY short until you get to the space age where you engage in a tedious, and very boring game of flying from planet to planet grinding out relations with other alien races. I was board to tears just trying to get to the point were I could finally conquer new planets.

If you like to have spy software installed on your computer, pay $50 to rent a game, and don’t get board of endless repetition then you will LOVE this game.
Rating: 1 / 5

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