Darkspore Preview

After being given the opportunity to go hands-on with Maxis' Darkspore, GameSpot has returned with an informative two-page preview. Space Siege left me pretty cold, but this sci-fi action RPG just might scratch the appropriate itch:
Our first hero was Blitz. Fresh off the evolutionary assembly line, Blitz was a fast melee hero who excelled at gutting enemies with a pair of nasty claws. Right away, it was apparent that Darkspore isn't straying far from genre conventions; you click to move, click to attack, and click to have fun. Clicking on any patch of terrain sends your hero to that spot, and clicking on any enemy orders your hero to attack. While melee combat was very straightforward, ranged combat added a little extra excitement. Against a ranged opponent, a simple click isn't always the best solution. Most ranged attacks come in the form of slow moving balls of energy, and if we were nimble, we could duck and weave in between the shots to get to our assailant. However, it didn't help that most of these shots came from tiny, insectlike quantum darkspore who would then teleport away when we got close.

Thankfully, Blitz had just unlocked his second ability, ride the lighting, which allowed him to teleport to where our cursor was pointed and deal damage upon entry. Heroes have four abilities assigned to them; the first being their standard attack ability. The second two are hero-specific spells--in Blitz's case ride the lighting and electron sphere (basically a large fireball)--and the fourth is a party spell, which any hero in a squad can use. For Blitz, it was plasma wreath, a shield that shocked those who got too close. The stages themselves followed the typical layout of narrow bridges and pathways opening into larger arenas where packs of minions were waiting to be mowed over. As in Left 4 Dead, each of these stages has an AI director who dynamically spawns in packs of minions for you to battle based on your level and number of co-op companions. Across the game's six planets, each with four sectors, you'll never slaughter the same pack of baddies twice.