Maxis, developer of the popular SimCity and The Sims franchises, has released Darkspore, a hack and slash RPG similar to Blizzard's popular Diablo games. Featuring a third-person top-down isometric camera angle, Darkspore was inspired by Maxis' critically-acclaimed Spore simulator. In the game's story, genetically-modified aliens called "darkspore" have begun to ravage the galaxy. As the player, it is your job to assemble a rag-tag group of heroes who can put an end to this universal threat. While the word "spore" is in the game's title, other than using a similar creature creator mode, there isn't too much Darkspore has in common with the 2008 hit title. Luckily, the game's creature creation tool is just as robust this time around. Players can customize each of their monsters' colors, textures, armor, and equipment. Because the game is a RPG, items do not merely affect aesthetics, but stats as well. The game has dozens of heroes to choose from; each aligned to different class types. Some of your aliens will be tanks, others projectile shooters and some will have little minions that will fight for them. Furthermore, these different heroes will be outfitted with unique power-ups and abilities such as teleportation and strong laser beams from which they can use on the battlefield. Like other RPGs, players will have to manage these spell effects' cool-down time. One interesting tweak that Darkspore has over other similar action RPGs is that it allows you to switch between three heroes on the battlefield. Each hero has their individual life and power meter and the game allows you to switch between them on the fly, provided you appease the transitional cool-down time. You'll need to switch often if you are to survive in the world of Darkspore as the game is challenging. Enemy hordes will attack you in droves. The AI becomes a lot more manageable when you're playing with friends and luckily Darkspore features four-player online co-op. In addition, the game also has PvP for competitive thrill seekers as well. Being a RPG, leveling up and gathering loot are key components of the game. Players who love collecting items will have a blast as the game is full of loot drops which can change the look of characters and also affect their offensive and defensive stats. Featuring a risk vs. reward loot system, Darkspore allows players to take a break upon finishing missions to equip the latest gear or head directly into the next dangerous mission to risk what they've collected in hopes of getting more lucrative gear. It's definitely an addictive mechanic that will have gamers playing for hours on end. From a visual standpoint, Darkspore allows fans of the Spore universe to thoroughly explore the rich alien universe. Planets are rich in detail, varied, and colorful. Some levels take place across cold, frozen environments whereas other places may be lava-filled landscapes. Allowing gamers to get the most out of the graphics is SLI support, which can provide up to a 46% increase in performance.