Spore was perhaps Will Wright and Maxis’ most ambitious game to date. Although it wasn’t perfect, it’s level of customization is rivaled only by Maxis’ other big franchise, The Sims. While it may have caught some heat with the whole creationism vs evolution debates, a key part of its gameplay is how things evolve over time. Like Enix’s EVO from nearly 2 decades prior, Spore’s big hook is that it makes a controversial subject such as evolution a fun part of the gameplay.

Starting as a one-celled organism, you evolve into a pack of creatures, a tribe of primitive beings, a civilization complete with nations and cities, and eventually an intergalactic empire. Each of the five stages of evolution has its own playing style. As a one celled organism, you consume other plants and animals to survive and evolve, similar to that PS3 Network game FLOW. In the creature stage, you’ll have to fight it out with other creatures, RPG style. Of course, you can also choose to befriend them and win them over as well. The tribe and civilization levels control like real-time-strategy games, with the latter allowing you to create your own aircraft, tanks, and buildings. When you reach the space stage, you can roam around the galaxy either making war with other civilizations, or trading commerce. Each step of the way, you decide the look of your creatures and world.

The online features are particularly awesome. If you connect to Spore’s database servers online, you’ll be able to view other people’s creations and download them via the in-game Sporepedia. Also, other people’s creations will frequently be inserted into your game. If you have a few more bucks to spare, the Galactic Adventures expansion allows you to create missions for your captain to embark on during the space stage.

Spore is a fun game that allows players to flex thier creative muscles using the easy-to-use tools. If you can look past its theme and cartoonish graphics, you’ll find one of the most unique games of the past decade.