There's things that apply to the game as a whole that I can't think to put anywhere else so I'll slap them here.
The music is pretty cool and works for the game most of the time. Sometimes it can get obnoxious.
The animal screeching in the game gets fucking annoying and I recommend turning it as low as possible. God help you during the creature stage.
It doesn't crash all the time but I've had spore crash a few times for seemingly no reason whatsoever. I was playing on a GOG copy so I don't think it had anything to do with any sort of weird DRM that kept screwing with the game, but it was obnoxious enough for me to take note. If you're gonna play the game make sure to save often since your progress can get massively restarted by a random crash.
So that's Spore. A pretty lame game that was set out to being one of the best ever before EA decided to mutilate the game for business.
I've only barely touched up on it before, but there's a lot of pre-release material for this stuff that shows where the game was headed before EA decided to fuck it raw. 2x the amount of stages, including optional ones based on evolutionary paths and inbetween stages that actually complete the chain of evolution rather than just skipping ahead, different parts that did different things and weren't just straight upgrades that you'd have to be an idiot not to take, much more complex versions of the stages we had in the game, and a true vision to create what would've been one of the greatest games of all time, quite possibly even creating a new genre of 'evolutionary' games much in the same way that Simcity innovated simulation games.
But no, for whatever reason it was completely butchered by the time it came out. Will Wright's dream, and every single bit of Spore was cut so far back that it barely even looks like it should. Will didn't want to give up, he thought the game could be improved with expansion packs, but so far the only expansion packs released were a crappy pack filled with a few awful creature parts and the aforementioned fever dream that was Galactic Hero. The cut stages would never get back into the game, in any way or form. The other cut content would never get seen ever again. Will Wright would never work on a game after this. No one would ever successfully try to create the evolutionary game Spore set out to be ever again. Maxis, the studio behind Spore, would close down in 2015, and be merged with EA in 2016, releasing only a few crappy games since Spore that were either ignored or were as unrealized as Spore was.
To say that the game is a dissappointment that didn't deliver is an understatement. It's a completely different game from what the pre-release material showed, and why this is is shrouded in a bit of mystery. It was most surely the result of publisher meddling, but why the publisher meddled isn't certain. Perhaps they saw it as too ambitious, or were afraid of scaring religious groups at the time with the game's idea of life. Perhaps they didn't think it'd reach its target audience, so they tried to gear the game towards children and ended up cutting out entire layers of complexity to do so, turning it from a sim game into an action game. Perhaps it's just because it's EA, and EA are an entire company of dumbasses who have been the laughing stock of the video game industry for over a decade, only getting worse with each passing year, but yet somehow surviving.
The game's development was surely a rocky road. Ideas getting made, scrapped, re-used, scrapped, made again, then scrap-used. Cell wasn't even going to be in the game at one point, but then it got re-added once more, and entire parts of the game kept getting cut. It kept getting delayed, and at some point people assumed it was vaporware. And what we got was worse than pretty much everything shown up to that point.
For all I've shittalked about it and said how much worse it is than its pre-release form, Spore is still an interesting game and I'd be hard pressed to find anything like it. I don't know of any other game that has gameplay like Spore's does, where you'll evolve a creature from cell to space. Even if the results of the game were massively dissappointing in the end, it's fascinating to watch the evolution and getting to each different stage. The way that the gameplay tells the story there is still wonderfully done, in spite of the bastardization of everything. Shifting the genre between each stage and the increasing 'complexity' (however much you can call the game complex) gives off a wonderful allegory for evolution. They clearly understood how these genreshifts and increasing complexity can help the player feel as if their species has evolved, as well as the changing goals and 'worries'.
For example, the biggest worry in the first 2 stages is simply food and mating. Then when you get into tribal stage, those worries are simply steps you need to take to get to your next big objective. Then in the civ stage that gets even more complex, and food isn't even an issue anymore. You start to feel much bigger than all of the animals around you as you slowly become part of the sentient beings in the universe.
There's a lot of potential in Spore. I don't know who's going to be the one to realize all the potential. I'm sure there's an active modding community for Spore, but will another game ever come out that's quite like Spore? I like to think that it's possible, things have changed since '08 and we have a lot more freedom to create games like Spore. Ways to assist in the player-created universes, procedural generation, smooth and logical stage transitions. There's even been more avenues for independent developers to get their games out to audiences since.
I was going to end this on a note saying that one day perhaps someone would make a game like Spore. Well, that might not actually be a complete pipe dream. There's a game called Thrive that's setting out to be the new hotness in evolution games. After several years, though, it still seems to be in early development and is far from finished. It's not like they have nothing to show, and they don't seem to be money hogging. On the contrary, they're creating a completely open-source game. The developers are small and don't seem to be capable of working on it as anymore than a part-time venture, so that might be the reason why development is so slow. Regardless, it'll be interesting to see where it leads.
Also spore might suck but the speedruns of it are fun to watch.
I'm kinda wondering why I wrote this whole thing. I don't really see the point to reviews 90% of the time, and I don't really care if anyone plays Spore or doesn't play Spore. I guess it was for my own purposes, just writing shit down for myself more than anyone else. I kinda got emotional about the game, I guess. If you were coming here to decide on whether or not you should purchase Spore or something, then I'd say just pirate it and buy it if you liked it. There's plenty of places for doing that if you look around. If you think piracy is immoral, then remember that this game was published by EA so you're doing everyone a favor.
I probably won't do much in the way of 'reviewing' things that I hate. I'd rather analyze things that I like, personally speaking. There's ultimately a lot more to say about things that are joyous or curious than there is to say about things that are bad or awful, unless you're giving people tips on how to move away from the badness, which most people will never do because they lack clear vision, expertise, or reason to do so. Doing those sorts of reviews would make me feel like some sort of talking head on Youtube. That sort of stuff just makes people dismissive and decision-paralyzed instead of trying to do new things.