Will Wright’s hugely successful game The Sims let players shape the lives of virtual humans; his new game, Spore, lets them control the universe. Spore has five levels, following a species’ evolution from single-celled organisms to technologically advanced space explorers, but players can begin at any level. In the game’s editor mode, players design their own creatures. The creatures’ movements and behaviors are then determined by algorithms that analyze the structure of their bodies. At the lower levels, players help their creatures feed and hunt; at the higher levels, they control the creatures’ social organization and their built environment. Spore comes out September 7.
Cost: Less than $50
Companies: Electronic Arts