Spoilers rampant in this thread. Be warned.
So, Spore. The game from famed game developer Will Wright in which you begin as a microscopic organism and fight to evolve your way all the way to a space faring civilization... it's finally out after years of anticipation. But is it really as much as everybody's been hoping?
Personally, I find the game is incredibly overrated. Will Wright/Maxis made a huge deal out of the whole "creature creation" aspect... then the entire physiology of your creature becomes nearly irrelevant by the time you progress into the Tribal phase. Pretty much, none of the abilities or physiological features of your species matter once they discover fire and begin using tools.
My second serious problem with the game is the terribly poor transitioning between phases. You start off as a microscopic organism in an essentially 2d world, and slowly grow to not-so-microscopic, evolving small physical advantages as you fight to survive. Once you've collected enough DNA and evolved enough, it's time to grow legs and climb onto land. So you do.
BOOM! New phase. The entire sea-bound part of life is completely gone from here out. You never see that again. Now, you're a land creature and you have to kill to survive, collecting DNA points, and evolving new features again. Here, it's moved to a 3d world, but the gameplay isn't too much different from before, except now you've got "packs" - you're not a loner of your species anymore, but a part of a group (which you can recruit members from to follow you, more as you grow smarter). Eventually, you reach sentience.
BOOM! You've discovered fire, invented tools, and that part of the game is history. You move on to tribal life - semi-organized human civilization. You have technology, you very easily hunt (with no trouble whatsoever) the creatures you struggled to survive against before. Some of them may reach sentience as well, becoming rival tribes, but for the vast most part, it's an entirely different part of life. You no longer evolve now. Your creature has developed the physical features it will always have, and you can now upgrade its clothing, its tribal uniform, for any advantages. Your physical features from before mean almost nothing - you need to have good armor and weaponry to survive now. So you had wings, so you ran faster than everything else. So what? This stage is a very basic "real-time strategy"-type game - think original Warcraft or Age of Empires... with a tenth of the gameplay mechanics. You fight for dominance over the other tribes, then...
BOOM! Civilization. You've eliminated the other tribal species, your species has risen to sentient dominance on this planet. But, as your species has grown, it has spread out, and now it's formed its own cities here and there. Some will be your friend, some will fight to the death. Now, you suddenly have cars, ships, aircraft - all available to use for world domination. Also a real-time strategy game mechanic, this mode is slightly more complicated due to the various vehicles and economic vs. religious vs. military methods of taking over the world. Once you do that...
BOOM! Space-faring. Now that you've united your entire planet, you seek out other planets to control and/or befriend. This phase is known as "sandbox", in that you can do almost anything you want. I've only played a very little bit in this part - I colonized and terraformed a planet, bringing animal and plant life to it, effectively duplicating my homeworld and turning it into an extension of my Empire. So far, it looks like this part is the biggest, most complicated, with the most to do by far. I have no complaints with that - it looks like this part'll be a lot of fun. It borrows concepts from many sci-fi references in the past (the "Genesis" tool, which can nearly instantly terraform a planet (from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan), or a gigantic space weapon similar to the Death Star, etc), and you can revisit previous phases of gameplay with other species (I don't know how yet, I've just read about that). Obviously, this part is by far the biggest part of the game.
So why did we hear nearly nothing about it? Why was the Creature Creation part the most publicized, the only part we really knew anything of? Combine that with the lack of fluidity between the stages - the VERY abrupt transitioning - and I'm left incredibly disappointed.
Basically, Spore is a very fun game, but it has terrible flow between stages, and it's almost nothing like what EA/Maxis/Will Wright made it out to be. Which is typical EA slack-off, really.
I'd give it a 7.5/10 - playable, fun, but lacking in a lot of areas. Don't get me wrong - you will probably enjoy playing this game. It has much of the same concepts and feel of old Maxis games, with a touch of Age of Empires and a nice sandbox element later on. Very few games touch as many genres as this, and I appreciate that. But... with how long it's been announced, and how much hype was behind it, I guess I expected all of these shortcomings to be well behind it. Spore II, or a Spore-clone, will probably fix all these problems, at least. We can only hope.