Late to the party game reviewing! Spore - Part 1

I don't know what inspired me to write this, but I might as well go with it.  Since the game came out, I've been fascinated with the idea of Spore, but it's generally been way too expensive, so I haven't bothered with it.  Listening to the old bombcast just dedicated to Spore, I really wanted to see how all those systems really play out in game.  That said, I never saw the game dip to a price I was willing to pay for an experiment...
 
STEAM SALE!!!
 
Despite not really having much I wanted this time, Spore for $7.50 was a must-buy.  Also picked up Creepy and Cute parts for 5 bucks, but didn't bother with galactic adventures.  My main disappointment with the Steam version is it is PC-only, so I couldn't play it on my Macbook while I was at my parents' house over the break.
 
So, finally installed it last night on my crappy laptop, and was happy to see it ran the game.
 
Review Part 1 - Cell stage (or whatever they call it)
 
Wow... so they made fl0w, but... somehow shallower and less interesting.  That's not quite fair, since there was no customization in fl0w, but I can't believe how little they put into this phase of the game.  You choose carnivore or herbivore, then swim in 2 dimensions eating meat or plant particles, and eating smaller dudes while avoiding bigger dudes.  Once in awhile when a dude of another species dies you can pick up some unique appendage he had, like cilia for faster turning, jets for movement, a different kind of mouth (a proboscis that kind of just sucks the life out of anything and turns you into an omnivore), or some special weapons like poison or electricity.  Eating stuff gets you points you can use to add new parts to your species.
 
So, I guess my real problem with this is something I know I've heard before, no part of this process is remotely similar to evolution or anything even vaguely sciencey, which is disappointing.  No matter what actions you take, you can just use your DNA points to customize your dude however you want.  The game is tracking how much meat or plants I eat, but that should factor in directly to my species abilities.  They could still have made these guys customizable while restricting how you can play the game based on your choices (or at least that should have been a separate mode).  I would prefer a game where: if I choose to eat a dude with a certain trait, I now have that trait...  Since I didn't eat any plants, I don't get certain upgrade options that herbivores would get.
 
I guess my idea of Spore is not mainstream enough for EA, so it's basically a quick timewaster... and I do mean quick.  If I hadn't bothered to look for all 6 extra body parts, I could have finished that phase in 15-20 minutes tops.  And once you're ready to "evolve" to the next stage, you can keep playing as a cell if you want, but the game sure doesn't like it... no more upgrades, and a giant button demanding that you start walking on land.  I kind of wanted to build up some more points and play with customizing my cell some more, but no dice.
 
So you finally give in to the game's demands, and move to the next stage, which is where you get the creature creator.  This thing is pretty cool, and I really do like how much freedom you have to create a unique posture for your species.  It's fairly easy to use, although it takes some getting used to when figuring out what you can drag to move certain things.
 
So my crazy freak of nature was built, with legs in front of head, crotch above everything, and mouth coming out of knees, ready to ascend to dry land!
 
Then Spore crashed.
 
I totally blame my computer, I plan to load it up on my desktop this week and play through the rest.
 
Day 1 recap: Honestly, I knew I was going to be disappointed in the early stages, but it wasn't clear why until I started playing.  Whether or not this game was intended at all to depict how a species might develop, as a game this phase just seems pointless, except to illustrate the sense of scale from tiny cell to the entire galaxy later on.  Basically everyone leaves the cell stage with some DNA points, no more than six possible "extra parts", and your dude.  Since you can change your species into anything you want at any time, the cell stage didn't affect anything important to me (although I guess the "meat to veggie" ratio will play in to it eventually).  I really would have preferred some kind of feedback for my playstyle, but instead they just put a simplistic minigame in there so that everyone has the exact same vanilla experience from the start.
 
Looking forward to later sections where the game opens up... stay tuned.

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Konflicted about Kinect

Ugh, so despite a pretty poor showing at E3, and my general lack of interest in motion controls in general, I have to say the GB videos of Dance Central have me super interested in Kinect.  Additionally, Amazon is offering $30 off Kinect plus one game.  I'm not saying $170 is cheap, but it's just low enough to get me thinking about getting it... plus I have a good amount of Amazon credit from deals and coinstar and stuff.
 
Anyway, my main problem is that I've still seen no direct indication of how good Kinect is at gauging your actual movements and giving feedback.  I've heard vague statements about it being pretty good in Dance Central.  Also, it is so unclear how well this will perform in my living room, since I don't know anything about min/max distance, or how the back wall will affect sensitivity.
 
Also, I've heard nothing about any big Kinect game announcements after launch.  Sure, Fable III might have some support, but I really need games dedicated to the tech to sell me, I'm not switching between control schemes mid-stream.
 
Anyway, this is my struggle.  Dance Central looks fun, and I could use the exercise in "game" form, but I am worried that MS is going to abandon this thing after launch or something.

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Some part of me doesn't like how much I enjoy these achievements.

So, I will confess that I'm writing this partly for the achievement, but I am honestly conflicted about this new quest system.
 
Don't get me wrong, I think that this new feature is amazing on its own, let alone as a way to get users to contribute more to the site, but why am I so wrapped up in them specifically?  I'm worried that I don't do things unless I am told to and then promised some kind of nebulous award afterward.  Lord knows I've spent extra time in a game after beating it just to rack up cheevos, and I guess that's even more pointless than these achievements, since on GB there is at least a community and I'm learning more about the site's functionality.  
 
All of this probably just says more about me than about the system itself, but if I didn't need achievements in my life would I be better at taking initiative and doing my own things?  Who knows...

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