The decoration aspects of Create don't significantly improve the experience. The limited camera keeps you from getting a good view of the nooks and crannies that you might want to fill, so the daisies you're spreading across a ledge might spill onto railings and asphalt you want to leave plain. More annoyingly, earning sparks often requires decorating a specific area with a specific tool, even if it is an area you have already embellished. Not only does this contradict the notion of creative freedom, but it's a meaningless requirement anyway, because you can immediately undo the work without penalty. Create would have been more enjoyable if it had either rewarded you with sparks without designating the region to be spruced up, or only rewarded you for completing puzzles, and gave you truly free rein over your own exterior design.
Think you could make a better puzzle? Too bad--you never get the chance.
If you're proud of a particularly clever solution, or want to show off just how garish your circus island looks, you can always upload snapshots of your handiwork, or take a gander at what others have done. On one hand, it's nice that you can share your beautiful outdoor paradise, or provide solutions to a tricky conundrum, even if truly challenging puzzles are sadly few. However, the creation and community-sharing features are somewhat underdeveloped. You get use of a blank slate with which you can form your own handcrafted levels, but the tools are inadequate. You can place different types of platforms into the space, but there are shockingly few shapes to use, and the lack of terrain-morphing tools like those you would see in RollerCoaster TycoonÂ makes for overly restricted sculpting. You can share your free-form Rube Goldberg machine with the Create community, or fashion your own puzzles and challenges for other players to tackle. However, finding out how to make the most of these features requires stumbling upon them by accident. To create a challenge, you must designate a key object and then place a goal marker, yet there is no in-game introduction or tutorial for this feature, nor does the manual even make mention of it. In fact, the game fails to inform you of certain basic controls, such as how to rotate and resize objects before dropping them into the world. On the PC, you'll need to review the full list of controls in the manual to discover that this is even a possibility. On the Xbox 360, even the manual's control diagram leaves out this important information, so unless you stumble across these options by accident, you could miss them entirely. Few games explain themselves so poorly.
The visuals are colorful and agreeable, but no more charming than the jaunty but generic electronic tunes that play as you move from puzzle to puzzle. Create more or less gets the job done, and there's glee to be had in watching your collection of miscellaneous doodads guide an object to its goal. But this glee rides the coattails of better games that displayed more creative energy. Many older games have already used the Rube Goldberg theme with far more flair and invention, while games like Spore and The Sims 3 offer superior tools for producing and sharing lovingly crafted handiwork. Create occupies a lukewarm middle ground, content merely to coast without excelling. It may feature a lot of sparks--but it doesn't light any fires.
Editor's Note: This review previously contained incorrect information regarding Create's interface and sharing features. The original review text and score have both been changed. GameSpot regrets the error.