Despite sharing the word “spore” in the title, Darkspore actually shares a lot more in commong with Blizzard's Diablo series than EA's Spore. Yes folks, for those who still have not realized it, Darkspore is a hack and slash dungeon crawling game. Like most games of its' kind, there is a huge emphasis on the random loot that is dropped -which is often the key to becoming stronger in the game. Of course, Darkspore does add in some Spore-ish elements, and there is a lot of editing that can be done as well.
For those of you who were hoping that Darkspore is like “Spore meets Diablo”, we are sorry to say that it is nothing close to that. Sure, there are some parts of character editing and customization that you can do, but you cannot make a hero from the ground up. Darkspore follows Diablo's preset character systems and simply tasks players with making these characters grow. Still, it is a pretty good game with an engaging and addictive dungeon crawling mechanic. While it does falter a lot with the narrative, it does have a pretty decent online cooperative mode that gives it a lot of replay value.
What is Darkspore?
Darkspore puts players in the role of a Crogenitor, an ancient alien race with powerful DNA-molding technology that has been forced into hiding and exile by their most powerful creations, the Darkspore. You must then take one of several pre-created heroes, edit them, and then use them in order to fight against the Darkspore. On the surface, this game shares some similarities to Spore's space mode with the whole creature creation thing going on. But aside from sticking a few extra bits and pieces into your hero (and possibly changing the paintjob), you will not be making any new ones of your own.
As a dungeon crawler, certainly looks the part with its multitude of enemies and the long winding pathways that are so often seen in the genre. At the same time however, it is a simple matter of finding the best combination of abilities and items in order to deal as much damage as possible. With the amount of items and skills available all the 25 various hero types, players will be spending a great deal of time in the menus aside from the time they spend fighting in the game's various stages. Since each hero plays uniquely and has their own skills, it is heavily advisable to try them all out to see which ones have skills that complement each other.
For those who have already played and finished Spore, keep in mind that Darkspore is a completely new game and that you cannot use your Spore creatures in it. This is certainly a disappointment for anyone who played and finished the Galactic Adventures pack will probably wish they could bring their Captain over to this game.
Better Items, Better Progress
With the right people, however, that long grind can be more fun. The game supports cooperative multiplayer and it is a must have once you get to the late game content. Enemies are stronger, faster, and come in huge volumes. While players are able to rotate between three heroes in a single sitting, it will take multiple players in order to mow the enemy down. While it is possible to accomplish this in single player, the game was obviously designed with its online functionalities in mind.
Competition is No Good
Ironically, despite the fact that the game is geared towards cooperative play, it is the opposite when it comes to player versus player combat. There are no tiers or levels, and thus, there is also no ranking system. This is very terrible as it is possible to end up in a massive mismatch. This is certainly not fun for either side as fighting an opponent with no items at all will not help polish your skill. And having to fight a fully decked out character is something that no new player would consider worthwhile. It would have been good if EA had fixed this little issue in order to turn it into a proper sport.
It Does Not Look or Feel Like Spore
One nice advantage that Darkspore has over Spore is with the graphics and overall gameplay -this new game just simply looks and plays better. The planet designs seem full of life and the various spacecraft that we see look stylishly futuristic. With the heroes, players are given a wide range of choices ranging from those that are completely alien, to those that were obviously inspired by earth based creatures such as lizards and spiders.
Adding and removing parts does affect stats however, and players are encouraged not only from an aesthetic perspective, but also from a functional standpoint. Beefing your character up with passive bonuses is always a good thing to do in any dungeon crawling game.
If you are a hardcore dungeon crawling fan, then Darkspore may feel a little repetitive or redundant. Sure, it has its moments and the multiplayer mode is pretty enjoyable, but there is nothing here that is not better done in games like Diablo III or Torchlight. At the same time however, this one is more of a relaxing trek to the park -until you reach the later parts where the sheer volume of enemies will make you seek out other people to play with. The combat is fast paced and enjoyable, and it shows that the developers have put a lot of time creating interesting abilities that are both functional and visually appealing.