Over the last few years the gaming industry has been getting more and more competitive as, quite simply, new concepts are few and far between. That said there are some studios that are pushing the envelope and coming up with unique concepts. Unfortunately, the studio that did Darkspore is not one of them. I would love to say that Darkspore was a completely new and innovative game, but then again I would also like to call myself a millionaire businessman, both of which aren’t true.

The game as a whole is a Pokémon meets Diablo styled RPG. Confusing? Yes, yes it is. You jump around the universe as a team of three specially selected characters. Tasked with killing monsters and aliens, each of which has different abilities, that have turned to “the dark side” – Star Wars much? All the while, upgrading your characters with items and weapons, and unlocking new characters. I can almost hear Ash in the background say “Gotta catch em all…”

The graphics are top-notch, with visuals as fluid as beer down an Irishman’s gullet. That said the visuals are not as ground breaking as EA claim.

Darkspore does have other positive attributes; such as 100 Characters to choose from, each with their own unique abilities, a pretty decent multiplayer mode, and quite a couple missions that will have you playing for a good deal of time – that is if you don’t get bored with the fact that the scenery looks different, but has the same feel as every level before it.

The story line, unfortunately, left me wanting more. Interesting concepts but poorly executed. Given the scope of the marketing and budget, you would have thought they’d get that right. Although, coming from a company that brought us Sims, Sims 2, Sims 3 and a dulling of the human mind, attributed to three instalments of a game that only appeals to people with such little self-esteem, that they have to create a virtual life for themselves. The big question is truly how did they manage to make it this good considering?

That said what Maxis lacked in the story telling department, they made up for with the fluidity, game-play and animations. The options and versatility associated with all of the characters in the game was mind boggling.

In true Spore fashion, you are able to customize your characters to the teeth, anything from weapons, to colour schemes and physical appearance, the choices are ridiculous! You are able to make your characters truly personal.

Another thing on the pro’s list was the option to do the missions as either a single player or in a multiplayer group. This allowed you to turn your solo RPG (Role Playing Game) into an MMORPG (Mass Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game). Teamwork in a Maxis game – a first time for everything.

Overall, Darkspore did give me hours of light-hearted fun saving the universe from dark-hearted fiends.

Rating 6/10

Xavier Bezuidenhoudt – Our resident Frenchman; we discovered Xavier in the back streets of Paris selling bootleg Mighty Mouse action figures. His Parisian occupation paired with his checkered past as a mime in the Moulin Rouge gave him the necessary skill required to become an excelent PC games reviewer. We immediately offered him a job. Take away from the fast paced world of action figure bootlegging, Xavier settled in Johannesburg, living on a diet of Merlot, Foie Gras and your tears when he owns you at Starcraft