Spore 2 (Johnsonverse)
Spore 2 is a 2015 multi-genre single-player fantasy god game developed by Maxis and designed by Will Wright. It was released for Microsoft Windows, Apple Macintosh, and Johnson Mandatum operating systems in July 2015. Unlike the first game, Will Wright elected not to have Electronic Arts publish the game, as EA's tight deadlines had led to the initial release being riddled with bugs that took seven patches to fix, and even then, many were not fully fixed. Instead, Johnson Games (which currently owns Maxis) was made publisher for the sequel, and was also heavily involved in development.
The game is similar to the first one, but with many differences and additions, the most notable being the inclusion of the Aquatic Stage (scrapped in the first game and partially restored via modding), as well as new features for existing stages such as infantry in Civilization Stage, dogfights, capitol ships, space stations, and a more Elite-based approach in Space Stage, immensely-improved scientific accuracy, and more.
The gameplay is similar to the first Spore, but many, many leaps and bounds have been made to the point the game feels different from its predecessor. One feature players will immediately notice is the addition of a Story Mode, which chronicles the evolution of creatures created by Johnson Industries (Johnsonverse) CEO, Tim Johnson, including Thrawn the Killer (evolving from a cell named Maw the Mauler, a cell created by Prima Games as an example cell in the strategy guide of the first game), Griano, Swinda, and the evil Xanoids. Otherwise, there is very little difference to the main screen, aside from a new UI. Like in the first game, spinning the galaxy really fast will cause pictures of the various members of the Maxis and Johnson teams to appear from the center of the galaxy.
Like the first game, the game is divided into stages. The sequel, though, adds two new stages: the Molecular and Aquatic Stages.
The first stage. Depending on whether the player chose proteins or panspermia, this stage is optional, but is rather short and easy, even on hard difficulty. If the player chose proteins as their birth method, the Molecular Stage is played, but if he/she chose panspermia, the game will show the familiar comet impact opening cutscene and go straight to the Cell Stage.
As with the concept for the Molecular Stage in the first game, this stage is based on Tetris. The goal is to join proteins together to create your cell. There are three trait cards that can be earned: Alkaline, Acid, and Neutral. Alkaline will make your initial cell a herbivore, Acid will make it a carnivore, and Neutral allows you to choose. At the end of the stage, players are taken to the Cell Creator.
This stage represents the early-mid Proterozoic Eon.
Veteran players shocked by the newness of the Molecular Stage will likely be relieved when they find the Cell Stage hasn't changed much. However, the stage is longer, and a bit more in-depth than in the first game.
If the player completed the Molecular Stage, they can make their cell look however they want. But if they selected panspermia as their method of birth, they will have to use a pre-made cell.
As in the first game, progress is made by eating to gain DNA Points. The food items from the first game (meat chunks, plant matter, eggs, prey-sized cells) are still present, but there are several new foods, such as plankton, blood, worms, etc. Sticking to the scientific accuracy, you may be forced to go into the Cell Editor to adapt to environmental change, such as temperature shifts, food pattern changes or disruptions, and sea levels.
Once the progress bar is filled, the cell grows a brain (as in the first game), and goes to the Aquatic Editor to begin the Aquatic Stage.
This stage represents the late Proterozoic Eon.
Once the Cell Stage is complete, the action moves to the Aquatic Stage. The third-largest and third-longest stage in the game, this stage involves your cell growing into an aquatic organism and becoming whatever organism you decide, such as a fish, whale, seal, porpoise, shark, squid, crab, eel, etc. When the stage begins, you are taken to the Aquatic Editor to change your cell into a basic fish. After exiting, an event akin to the Cambrian Explosion occurs, and a huge amount of life enters the scene. You can either be a solitary creature, or live with a school or pod of members of your species. Parts are found by killing other organisms, as in the Cell Stage; additionally, certain parts may also be unlocked automatically and required to be placed on your creature in response to various changes, such as temperature shifts, food pattern changes or disruptions, extinction events, and other changes. Also an issue is ecosystem balance and interspecific competition. One of your responsibilities is to eat in just the right amounts. Too little and your species will die off. Too much and you'll trigger mass extinctions, disrupting the ecosystem. Ecosystem collapse can occur, causing major changes to the environment that could result in a game over as the planet becomes incapable of sustaining life.
Interspecific competition is just that: competing with other species for various things, such as food, breeding grounds, and territory. The species that loses a competition moves away and will run at the sight of you.
Food items are diverse. Carnivores eat other creatures (the method of eating depends on the size of both creatures; for example, a seal is liable to be swallowed whole by a shark, while a large whale may require several porpoises to work together), herbivores eat algae, coral, krill, plankton, and seaweed, and omnivores, of course, eat both.
Once the progress bar is filled up, players can either choose to stay as an aquatic creature and evolve legs at any time, or go to Creature Stage. They may even choose to stay an aquatic creature and go straight to the Tribal Stage (echoing cut content from the first game).
This stage represents the Paleozoic Era of the Phanerozoic Eon, up to the Carboniferous Period.
Once Aquatic Stage is complete, the player can grow legs and make landfall. When you first enter the Creature Creator, the only new parts will be the three basic legs from the first game (arms are not available yet). Having legs only, you'll stumble to land and find only insects and small terrestrial invertebrates, meaning carnivores will have to play aggressively initially to find other creatures just coming to land in order to survive; alternatively, they could also eat fish, which are in good supply, but run the risk of being eaten by marine reptiles and sharks. Herbivores and omnivores won't have this problem, though, thanks to the abundance of plant life.
Soon enough, land-based organisms will be plentiful and diverse, running the gamut of mammals, reptiles, birds, and insects. Eventually, though, dinosaurs appear, and you have one of two options: fight or flight. Be advised, though, that if you choose to fight a dinosaur as a mammal, bring friends. Conversely, if you yourself are a reptile, you yourself will be considered a dinosaur, and have the option of becoming "among the giants".
As with our own prehistoric times, extinction events will occur. There will also be competition for food, climate change, volcanism, and even external effects such as solar flares, asteroid impacts, and even visits by aliens to abduct other animals (like the first game, though, you yourself can't be abducted).
Food items, like the aquatic stage, are diverse. Carnivores eat various meat-related foods; swarms of small animals can tear apart larger creatures, while a massive reptile can swallow most prey whole. Herbivores eat plants, fruit, and flowers, and omnivores, again, can eat anything.
Progress is gained by multiple means: hunting other animals, eating plants, and driving other species to extinction (a tall order to fill in this game, because species don't number 4-8 creatures living at a nest, but have massive numbers; some live in the familiar nests, while others live in caves or travel in herds). Socialization is not an option at all in this stage, in order to move away from the cartoony nature of the first game.
At the mid-point of the stage, a massive asteroid will hit the planet, and untold scores of species will go extinct. This is where the stage gets REALLY hard. As the planet is gripped in an impact winter, all plant life will die out, so herbivores may be forced to become carnivores. What's more, the race for survival will begin, so every creature will be out to kill and eat you. There are several ways to survive in this part:
- Herbivores with the burrowing ability will be able to go underground and eat insects
- Carnivores who are really powerful can turn the tables on the hunters, who will henceforth become the hunted
- Omnivores won't have to worry about all the plants dying, but the hunters will still be an issue
- If your creature is amphibious, it's best to return to the sea, as all of the dangerous marine reptiles are extinct; be wary of sharks, though, as they all survived
After some time, the planet will enter an ice age, at which point reptiles should move South to more temperate areas. When the Ice Age ends, things will go back to normal, and players can go back to doing what they were doing to progress.
As the stage goes on, the player creatures' brain will become bigger, allowing for the use of hunting strategies, and even the development of a language. Once the brain reaches its max size (level 10), the stage will be complete. Players have the option of either continuing to be a creature, or advance to Tribal Stage.
This stage represents the Carboniferous Period through to the early-mid Holocene era.
This stage is quite similar to the one in the last game, although this time, the progression of technology is represented. When the stage begins, the player will start with a village not too different from a level one village in the first game. Tribal members are procured the same way as in the first game, although this time, its explicitly stated that den mothers are the ones doing it. Also, depending on whether you're a mammal, bird, reptile, or insect, they'll either give live birth or lay an egg.
Food gathering is the same as the last game, and initially, the tools are all the same from the first game, all unlocked by default. As the stage progresses, though, bigger and better weapons will become available, such as bow and arrows, swords, maces, and eventually muskets. Siege weapons such as catapults, trebuchets, and cannons will also become available.
Socializing is now an option, through the same method as the first game. Playing aggressively is much more complex; as technology advances, the idea of war comes into play, and complex politics will either help or hinder your war effort. Food will eventually be replaced as currency by gold, and tribal villages will evolve into towns, then cities, and if the player chooses to do so, castles. Once at the midpoint of the stage, players should have an equal amount of cities and castles, just like in the Total War series.
New elements such as famine, disease, social disorder, assassinations, and economic health will be things players should look out for.
In the late part of the stage, Industrialization will begin, and new weapons and instruments will become available.
The stage ends with the last sapient species on the planet being wiped out, and the player's species becoming the dominant species. At this point, players will advance to the Civilization Stage.
This stage represents the Cradle of Civilization through to roughly 1910.
Greatly expanded from the first game, Civilization Stage is now more like a geopolitical simulator. At the outset of the stage, the player has a nation that is as big as he/she made it in the Tribal Stage, and it can either grow or shrink from there.