“Spore” could use a patch. It needs a solution to Civilization design ruts and to the relentlessly aggressive artificial intelligence in even the normal difficulty of Space. The game’s content-sharing options are strong but it offers surprisingly limited means for its users to communicate about their creations without leaving the game. And I’d like to know the fate of the species I create when they wind up in other games, an option I can’t find in the current edition.

The larger flaw, however, is not one that can be fixed. It’s the nature of the game: “Spore” in uneven. This is the imperfection of a game made of five connected games, the inevitable imbalance that results from any one stage-game hinging on another that isn’t as fun or doesn’t produce the same feeling of consequence connecting player to character. Players will have favorites but will be forced, on first playthrough, to go through them all. The connected games are tone-shifters, for better and for worse, and some “Spore” players will likely be disappointed when the leaps the game makes from stage to stage don’t meet their hopes of what the next step could be. Where, for example, is the stage that determines how a town of the player-created creatures, or even a family of them, relate to each other?

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