So, you're aware that Spore is a life simulator in which you (as a Play-Doh-wielding god) raise a species up from a single-celled organism all the way through to a planet-destroying scourge of the galaxy.
We're on the same page, right? The game, rather like the whole concept of life itself, is far too big to describe in the space allotted - so check with Mr Google if you're not up to speed, then rejoin the printed-page party right here as soon as you can. As we're doing the tribal dance. Baby.
After microorganisms come nature trials on land: basically, collecting DNA points from fighting, being friendly or simply nosing through fossils lying about the place. The more you develop the brain and body parts of your little chaps/chapesses and the more sociable dancing you instruct them to do, the more little mates can trail around after you.
As soon as you have a posse of three, well, that's where Will Wright goes all Kubrick on us. The music from 2001 fills your speakers, as your odd little quadruped green chaps with bums for eyes (or whatever) re-enact the bone-crushing scene in which the apes are forcibly evolved by the Monolith, the camera spins and (as if from nowhere) a tribal hut appears.
This third stage of Spore will kick in two hours into the game - the preceding microscopic and Attenborough-inspired antics lasting a half-hour and an hour-and-a-half respectively. It's all about uniting various tribes of your bum-eyed (or whatever) greenskins through either sociable or violent means - or, more likely, a mixture of the two.
It's almost like a scene from the start of an early Warcraft RTS map at first, with a few characters on screen doing odd jobs - your little ocularly arsed (or whatever) compadres heading out to fish or kill off the still-small-brained species who you rubbed nose-attached shoulders with formerly. All of which are designed by other Spore players, remember.
This is a family game, though (a very, very family game), so rather than gnaw on their guts, your beings bend down and create a neat platter of their bodies, before wandering back to the food-storage area like snooty waiters.
Meanwhile, you, Mr God himself, will be busy upgrading the tribe with better equipment and facilities in your quest for the magical 15 members that will signal the start of a more civilised age.
To do this, you must either send those of anal eyes (or whatever) over to wreck the main hut of a nearby opposing tribe and fill some of them with spears - after which, those remaining will be forced to kowtow to your wishes - or act all sociable. Obviously, your decision will depend on just how you've brought up your little entourage, since carnivorous, pointy-toothed savages bearing clubs won't be quite so good at small talk.
To make nice, you put on your user-defined recruitment glad rags, gather up your food supply and deposit it at the homestead of your rivals, before striking up some sweet, sweet music - with the bum-eyed band (or whatever) tooting away on pipes, banging on drums and doing cutesy-pie dances.
A few feet will begin to tap in the audience, and those suitably impressed will defect to your side - it's a bit like a Fisher-Price version of The Hunt For Red October. Once you hit the magic number 15 in your personal brat pack, you'll be free to enter a new age of buildings, cars, aeroplanes and modern-day sphincter-spyhole (or whatever) shenanigans.
The whole tribal trip lasts around an hour-and-a-half (it'll take about eight hours to get your charges all the way from amoeba to interplanetary explorers).
It's all great - but I reckon it's worth noting that this is a game that's drifted ever closer towards the mainstream market as previously unseen mechanics of gameplay have been introduced.