Create review: Losing the spark

I've spent a lot of time with EA Bright Light's Create over the last ten days. It hasn't exactly enjoyed a ton of fervor (or marketing support) and was only officially announced a few months back, plopped unceremoniously in a dark corner of EA's NYC summer press event. Frankly, the game hasn't been given a lot of attention, and taking a more thorough approach seemed like a great way to explore what folks might be missing.

But after spending hours playing through puzzle after puzzle, the unfortunate truth is there just isn't that much game in Create to dive into deeply.%Gallery-98649% Other than an ambiguous (and arguably misleading) name, Create is a puzzle game set on customizable, floating theme worlds (think "Garden," "Space," "Playground"). Using a DualShock 3 or a PlayStation Move (sans Navigation Controller), you'll place a wide variety of objects in each stage to complete various objectives.

For example, in one puzzle you're tasked with getting a moon rover (object A) to a specific part of the map (the goal) by using a handful of permitted objects (magnets and ramps). By setting up magnets just above the moon rover's path and a ramp at the end of the line, the moon rover automatically starts moving forward, is lifted over a gap by the magnets, lands on the other side and jumps off the ramp into the goal. Success!

Create's themed worlds are comprised of ten challenges apiece -- nine objective-based levels with limited access to objects and one "Scoretacular" mode where all unlocked objects are permitted and no limits are placed on the amount of objects on screen.

Object interaction can be finicky, but the game is more or less mechanically sound. Create's realistic physics never took the blame for a frustrating puzzle -- it was always my fault.

Unfortunately, the mechanical competence of Create is one of the few compliments I can award it.

There are only a small handful of objectives in Create, so you're either "moving object A to the goal" or "moving object A to the goal while collecting stuff along the way," or "stopping object B from interacting with object A," with little variety thrown in along the way. Making matters worse, I was often given only two or three objects with which to complete my objective, making a potentially creative solution into a banal, linear choice. Rather than "create" anything, I found myself doing far more assembly.

It's clear that EA Bright Light spent lots of time developing unique objects -- everything from cow-shaped balloons to riding lawnmowers is packed onto the disc. It's especially unfortunate, then, that most levels allow just two or three specific items for completing an objective. There's a large selection of tools, in theory, but Create far too often handicaps the player's ability to creatively solve its puzzles.

Despite this trailer's claims, you'll never need to build a "contraption"

You can employ a bit of creativity in the game's aforementioned floating worlds, which let you place props, change the background and surface colors/textures, and add objects -- that's about it. Experimenting on themed worlds can unlock more "creative sparks" (which, in turn, unlock more playable levels) but little else drove me to experiment creatively. I could build elaborate machines and personalize each world, but Create does nothing to incentivize such actions.

Create is at its best when it grants unrestricted access to objects, both in the game's main "stage" and in individual "Scoretacular" levels. Even there, however, I found myself using the same objects over and over (attach balloons, set up lots of fans) to complete the goal (the goal here is to get object A to a particular part of the level while collecting jewels -- every single time). You could partially attribute that to a lack of personal creativity on my part, sure, but there's little in-game incentive to do much else. In fact, you're likely to turn up a lower score should you choose to solve the puzzle more flamboyantly.

Between the uninspired puzzles and numbing repetition, it's especially difficult to recommend Create. As a puzzle game, it's shallow and monotonous; as a creative sandbox, it's extremely light on stuff to do. Since there are so many, many games to spend your time with this winter, the only thing you really need to create is an excuse to avoid this dud.



This review is based on review code of Create provided by EA. It was played for approximately 15 hours, but not to completion.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.