Spore: Viva la Evolution!

We attend one of the most feverishly anticipated presentations of the year - and are summarily blown away

Every person you meet, every living breathing participant in this year's E3 jamboree, is exuberant about Spore - a game so complex, yet simultaneously so simple, that it's blown away everyone who gained access to Will Wright's presentation. When CVG paid the man a visit, the queue outside his darkened room was at least three hours long, but the presentation within (that your correspondant shared with Simpsons creator Matt Groening by the way - if you excuse the name drop) was easily one of the highlight of our show.

Spore, for those unaware, is a game about life - giving you control of a line of creatures and evolving them from a single celled organism all the way to an interstellar civilization that plays a vital part in an entire galaxy teeming with life - every one being modelled on exactly what other people playing Spore have created. The different stages of Spore are manifold but can be simmered down to the following: the amoeba-packed microscopic view, the 'could be narrated by David Attenborough' evolution section, the era of increasing intelligence and the tribal warfare it brings, a simple Sim City style city building section and then the beautiful prospect of space travel - with all the UFO abductions, first contact, terraforming and galactic war it brings.

Wright's presentation first centred on creature creation. Playing God design-wise is essentially a brightly coloured Play-Doh affair. You design your bizarre one-legged, beclawed being in a method as simple as dragging and dropping animal parts onto your ever-moulding and contorting creature - everything being mildly reminiscent of Ricky Gervais' (overrated) Flanimals book and Burk the blue butler in Trapdoor. Your creature is then hatched from an egg and enters an ecosystem packed with co-species pals to play with, prey to hunt and predators by which to be preyed upon. Throughout all this, you're the one controlling where the little chap goes - dodging dangerous animals and stealing the eggs from the less scary ones - while the rest of species reacts to what you're up to and learns from your actions.

Evolution then comes around after mating (displayed as a kid-friendly loving cuddle in Wright's vision), after which you're able to upgrade your little colony of alien cuteness into something with, say, bigger legs or more ferocious claws through the editor system. In this way you adapt the species into something better equipped to survive in the given environment and deal with your pesky egg-stealing neighbour creatures. Darwin would love it: it's the circle, the circle of life.

After a brief overview of the tribal stuff and city building (which will no doubt be nothing short of excellent due to Wright's Sim City heritage) Wright led his creatures into space. The little chaps gathered around a spaceship in the centre of a capital city and fireworks went off to celebrate such an important point in Spore hisory - the UFO took off, entered the atmosphere and allowed an enraptured audience to take in the whole beauty of Wright's tiny planet for the first time.

Then came the fun; after all, what's a UFO without an abduction? Wright flew the craft over some of the less evolved creatures of the planet, sent down a beam in the traditional way and sucked a distinctly concerned green animal up into the belly of ship - the reason behind such forced eviction being that if Wright felt like terraforming a nearby planet then he could colonise it with his own local fauna.

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