Darkspore is an RPG recently released by Maxis and EA for the P.C., the same groups that made Spore. Spore was a very unique game that focused on evolving a species of creature from a single cell organism to a space empire. Darkspore contains many of the same elements that Spore has, but uses them in different ways and incorporates its own unique features. We would like to thank EA for sending us a copy of Darkspore, and here is what I thought of it.
In the original Spore, their were 5 stages of evolution for your species and each one had different gameplay and different strategies involved. Darkspore resembles a modified version of the “creature” stage from spore. the controls are fairly easy to get a hang of. Most of the characters actions are controlled by the mouse like moment, basic attacks, and other basic functions, while characters special abilities are activated by pushing numbers on the keyboard. Although the game is mostly a combat game, a lot of effort was put into what happens when you are not fighting. the main menu is not a traditional menu but rather a space ship and you can do different things by going to different levels of your ship. The bottom floor is where you unlock new characters and assemble your squads, the middle floor is the creature editor, after all what is a Spore game without a creature editor, where you can upgrade your characters, and the top floor is navigation where you head out on your missions. This makes the game feel like you are always playing even when you are just setting up for a mission. The creature creator has its similarities to Spore but if you played that game, Darkspore’s version will take a little bit of getting used too. Like Spore, you have different categories of parts, and each part gives your characters certain bonuses and advantages, but unlike Spore, you can only have one part per category. This isn’t really a bad thing its just something that will throw off Spore players. As I said before, most of the characters movements are controlled by the mouse which gets a little annoying when engaged in a large group of enemies because it ends up becoming how fast you can click. However, it is not much of an issue because it is almost impossible to win without using special abilities which makes it more interesting than just “mouse 1, mouse 1, mouse 1, mouse 1!” Another nice feature of the game is that you control a squad of three while only controlling one character. While you are busy dealing damage with one hero, your other heroes are in reserve and can be switched in and out using Q, W, and E. What is great about this is that each of your characters has their own health and energy so when one is close to death or has no more power, you can swap him out and give another hero a go while your other ones recharge. Overall the gameplay is pretty solid but not foolproof.
Darkspore has three game modes that can be played. The first of which is single player campaign which is as it says, as single player campaign. In addition to that there is a co-op mode where the campaign missions can be played in parties of up to four players. It is possible to progress through the campaign as a single player or in a team, so you can play through the first few missions on your own, then get some help on the harder ones. Although the help is nice, in co-op the enemies get a boost as well to counter your multiplayer advantage so it is about as hard as it would be as if you tackled it on your own. The campaign is organized in to chapters, each one with about 4 or 5 levels, and the last level ends with a sort of “super boss” that is more powerful than the other bosses in previous levels. The last game mode is PVP where teams of two or one battle it out in a best of three deathmatch. The maps for this game mode are designed to make sure that the battle wont last forever, two-three minutes top. PVP has all the same features and gameplay as the campaign, but you are fighting other players, hence the name PVP. This mode is nice, when the teams are fair. Darkspore has a level system and higher ranks have a major advantage over lower ranks so if you get a level difference of only 10 levels per say, the lower level player will be gone in less than thirty seconds no matter how smart they are about playing. This is a major downside because lower level players wont be able to do well in PVP no matter how good of a player they are. Both the co-op and PV are multiplayer so Darkspore has a matchmaking option to select a random group of players for a match. I am not sure if it is because no one uses matchmaking or because their is a problem with the game, but every time I tried to use matchmaking, it would load for about 40 seconds, then a message would appear saying “No match could be found”. This resulted in me going to chat and saying “Anyone want to play PVP?” Once I did that I had to invite those who said yes to a private party and host a private match, for both co-op and PVP. Once I was able to get a party together everything else ran smoothly but it would have been nice to just click “find match” and not worry about making my own. The game modes in Darkspore are fun to play but there needs to be some serious work done on making PVP more balanced, and on getting matchmaking to work.
You awake from stasis on a space ship to discover that your memory is more than likely gone. The first thing you notice is that you are in space and then a screen turns on. The voice of an AI beings to speak to you and you slowly uncover who you are, where you are, and why you are their as you walk around what appears to be the bridge of the ship. You are what is called a crogenitor, a member of a group of advanced scientists that developed genetically modified “heroes”, and used them to create a powerful intergalactic empire. The corgenitors created something called E-DNA, which was supposed to help the crogenitors make millions of years of evolution happen in a matter of hours. The E-DNA proved to be unstable and mutated those who were modified with it into powerful beings known as Darkspore. The crogenitors were alarmed at these “things” and outlawed further use of E-DNA as well as exiled Xylan, the crogenitor responsible for the creation of E-DNA. Xylan believed that he could control the E-DNA and injected himself with it but in the end he became the Corrupter, the very powerful leader of the Darkspore. A war followed and the crogenitors were slaughtered and their heroes and empire fell with them. he last survivors left in ships and put themselves in stasis and established an AI network to stabilize E-DNA in an effort to counter the Darkspore threat. After 1000 years, the HELIX, as the AI was called, succeed in E-DNA stabilization and awoke one of the Crogenetors, you. You must build an army of new modified heroes with stable E-DNA, your ultimate goal is to defeat the darkspore and kill the Corrupter. I would place this story in the late time period or even after the final stage in Spore, the space age. The story is very unique and engaging, and kept me wanting to know what happens next.
The Bottom Line
Maxis and EA have created a solid game with great potential, but it is far from being all it can be. The story is engaging and unique, and it is easy to pick up and fun to play, but it requires some overhauling on the multiplayer side. All in all I would give this game a 6.5 out of 10 but with a few updates, it could easily reach and 8 out of 10. I would not put it on your top things to buy list, but don’t rule it out as something you wouldn’t want at all. Once again we would like to thank EA for sending us a copy of Darkspore and if you are interested at seeing or buying Darkspore click here.