You know, I'm beginning to think that the people who have to review Spore are doing it wrong.
I'm reminded of the reviews of Assassin's Creed (a game I haven't played). Many reviewers were saying it was repetitive, tedious, and boring. Then one of the guys from Penny Arcade wanted to find out what the deal was, because he was really enjoying the game. Here's an excerpt:
I think the biggest complaint I saw was that the missions become repetitive and boring. I actually didn't understand this complaint at all until just the other day. I had gotten an early copy of the game just like everyone else in the media but I was just playing it for fun. I'd cracked into it over the weekend and when I got into the office on Monday I started seeing these negative reviews. When I saw the low scores I was actually really upset and I wanted to talk about the game here on the site. I wanted to tell everyone that these guys were full of [smurf]. However, since so many of the complaints were based on the ending I wanted to beat it first so I was sure I wasn't missing anything. I attacked the game again but this time with the goal of beating it as fast as I could. I was determined to get a post up on Tuesday and I was pushing through the game as fast as I could. I went from finding every high perch in a district to only getting the ones I needed to advance the story. I stopped saving every citizen and avoided any unnecessary confrontations. The informer missions that I had really enjoyed before, I now avoided because I knew they took too long to complete. I did the bare minimum of missions to progress the story and anything that "hindered" my progress was frustrating. Monday night after skipping over another combat (something I used to really enjoy) I stopped myself. What the [smurf] was I doing? I wasn't playing the game because I wanted to I was playing it because I had a deadline and I needed to beat it. I stopped immediately and decided I'd write about the game whenever I got around to beating it. I spent another day and a half with it and during that time I hunted for hidden flags and explored the cities again. I came in this morning and finally did beat it but I did it at my own pace and I enjoyed every part of it.
Returning to Spore, I've just reached the Space stage and done a few missions. So far I spent the most time on the Creature stage running around making most of the other creatures extinct and running/flying for dear life away from the epic monsters. I probably played for an hour or more after I was able to progress to the Tribal stage. The Tribal stage itself was a bit disappointing; I completed it in less than an hour and felt I did everything there was to do on this playthrough. But I feel that if I weren't playing so aggressively and was trying to make allies instead of eradicating everyone else, it would take quite some time longer to farm and trade and build relations.
When I got to the Civilization stage I was immediately thrown into editors for buildings and vehicles and it kind of threw me off because I guess I'm just not that creative and I couldn't think of any designs and I didn't understand how the parts affected the statistics of the vehicles. So I opted to use some from the Sporepedia. I eventually went back and made a factory and a house, but didn't customize my entertainment buildings or city halls or any of the vehicles.
Also, apparently you can make decorative shrubberies and trees, and an anthem for your cities, but it was never explained to me how or that it was even possible. I just happened to see those things toward the end of Civilization stage. So there's definitely more to it than I realize.
In conclusion, I'm enjoying the game, going at my own pace and exploring at my own whim. It's fun.