Two German game magazines have released early reviews of EA's long-anticipated Spore, and they're a bit disappointed with what they see.
Gamestar magazine rated Spore a 79, while PC Games could only bring itself to award a 73, not awful scores by any means but certainly not what EA executives would like to see after all the time, money and publicity that's been invested in the game. According to a VG247 report, the PC Games review applauds the Creature Creator along with the virtually endless variety of downloadable content and other "community features," but calls the game out for its lack of depth until the late stages of the game, an "uneasy mix" of simulation and strategy and the fact that it's apparently easier to wage war than it is to engage in diplomacy. The review also claims Spore lacks that intangible "one more go" quality that sets truly great titles apart from the crowd.
The middling scores come on the heels of a PC Gamer U.K. cover review of the game that awarded it a score of 91, calling it "beautiful," "hilarious" and "annoyingly adorable." Online reviews in Europe are under embargo until the game's European release on September 5, although PC Gamer was given clearance by EA to publish its review early; North American reviews are also under embargo, and Joystiq says it's currently unclear when that restriction will be lifted.
Scores in the 70s aren't particularly bad (in fact, I can remember a time when it was considered pretty good) but in this day and age scores under 80 are generally considered poor, and for a game as heavily-hyped as Spore, anything less than consistent 90s is bound to lead to caterwauling about "where it all went wrong." Will Wright himself really commented about his concerns that the game has been over-hyped, but with less than a week to go before it hits the shelves worldwide, there's nothing to do about it now but stand back and let the chips start a-fallin'.
Good news and bad news for Australian gamers, too: In an unusual twist, it looks like the Aussies are actually going to be playing the game well before the rest of the world. Voodoo Extreme is carrying a report from Australian gamers that retailers are already doling out the game. No word on which stores are letting the game go early or how widespread it is, but the initial report, by "Andrew" from Australia, says, "Just picked up Spore here in Australia... retailers do not seem to be putting it on the shelf but if you ask, they pop out back and get you a copy," and follow-up comments from other users make similar claims.
The bad news? The game costs a hundred bucks Australian. Crikey, mate!