Released in 2011, EA's Darkspore is a PC title which borrows the creature editor from Spore and combines it with fast-paced, action RPG elements. The game features a squad-based mechanic, a co-op campaign as well as a PvP multiplayer Deathmatch mode.
Deathmatch battles involve choosing three heroes which have been unlocked and edited in a normal campaign. These heroes are pitted against other heroes to see which team can eliminate all three of their opponents. These PvP matches support both 1 vs. 1 battles and 2 vs. 2 battles and it features ranking, leader boards and online matchmaking. The Co-op campaign, on the other hand, allows up to four players to combine strategies, trade valuable loot and battle enemies together using a squad deck of three heroes each.
The name "Darkspore" actually refers to an army of genetically enhanced mutants created by the Crogenitors -- a race of ambitious scientists who made use of E-DNA. The protagonist is a Crogenitor himself who has just been brought out of stasis. In a nutshell, the player must travel from one alien world to the next, battling mutated Darkspore and reconstructing Genetic Heroes in order to save the entire galaxy.
Species: Artificial Life, Real Evolution
Anyone who has been on the lookout for a more realistic approach to a life sim will likely find Species: Artificial Life, Real Evolution to be their cup of tea. This unique game allows players to go in their own evolutionary journey accurately simulated using the principles of the science. Specifically, the game simulates Variation in which each creature is genetically unique, Mutation in which child creatures resemble their parents with some random modifications and Natural Selection wherein every creature is affected by their environment.
Unlike Spore which incorporates more traditional game play elements, Species takes simulation to a whole new level. It is a purely sandbox experience which isn't peppered with objectives. Players can opt to stick to being an observer, studying creatures and watching life as it unfolds; they can also shape the world by playing a role in the natural selection of things. In Species, what you say goes. There are a myriad of options (map size, starting creatures, temperature, growth rate and more) to try and experiment with.
Initially created as a research project, Darwin Pond is a virtual life simulation which allows players to build scenarios and set up their very own wacky experiments. It never made it as a commercial product and is currently offered free-of-charge to those who, like the creator, enjoy watching life unfold before their very eyes. As its name suggests, the game is inspired by none other than Charles Darwin and his theory of the origin of species.
The creatures of the game are called swimmers -- organisms which live in the earth's waters. They start out as nothing more than worm-like things but they eventually evolve into complex creatures. As a catalyst for evolution, the player is able to affect both the birth and death of swimmers. Both are, after all, a part of the cycle of life.
There are several parameters which can be set to change the course of the game: food amount and distribution, hunger levels, energy requirements and lifespan length. It is also possible to alter genes, clone creatures and even mutate them. Any change, be it big or small, will have an impact on the artificial life and one's game play experience.
Black & White
Developed by Lionhead Studios and released back in 2001, Black & White gives players the power of a god to shape the land as they please. They lord over the land, choosing to either play as a kind and benevolent deity who is loved by everyone or an evil god who is feared by all. A Creature is selected to act as the player's virtual representative to keep the people of Eden in line. It is raised into a powerful behemoth and taught to perform everything the god player can do.
Black & White's rich storyline is told through a mix of strategy, fighting and artificial life game elements. The goal here is to gather and control the Creed in order to defeat their Nemesis. Before one can even dream of ruling the world, however, he must first conquer nearby lands where other gods reside. These gods will also have a fearsome Creature by their side as well as faithful followers to do their bidding. Players must vie for power against them, not only using the power of their Creature, but by using Miracles and cunning.
The real-time strategy title Impossible Creatures was released back in 2002. Developed by Relic Entertainment and Microsoft Studios, the game gives players the freedom to create their own armies. An army is made up of 9 creatures and each one is the result of a pair among 51 types of animals (76 with additional downloads). Aside from a single player campaign, the game features online multiplayer modes. It also has online add-ons, mods, scenarios and custom maps.
In Impossible Creatures, players step into the shoes of Rex Chance. Rex is a famous war correspondent and adventurer extraordinaire. At the start of the game, he has received a mysterious letter from his father, Dr. Eric Chanikov. After being away for so long, he suddenly asks Rex to come meet him. It is revealed that he is working for Upton Julius who is a rich industrialist. Sigma Technology soon comes to play. Join Rex as he discovers what benefits or evil it may hold. Combine sharks with ants or make elephants fly -- the possibilities are near endless.
Black & White 2
Black & White 2 is the sequel to Lionhead Studios' hit god game. It combines city building and real time strategy with artificial life sim elements. The formula will be familiar for those who have played the original: be a benevolent or a violent deity and rule the land. The player's moral choices determine the fate of their people.
Unlike the first title, Black & White 2 takes place in a warring land. The inhabitants have since discovered new technology and have created weapons of destruction. The player can opt to help the tribes find a way to coexist in peace until their villages grow into grand cities. He can also be a conqueror of creatures by making the tribes fear him. The game features improved graphics alongside impressive new effects. Every choice has a consequence and even inaction will prompt changes to the flora and fauna until the world morphs into something unique.