I guess I don't understand some of that criticism: you can essentially play as any of the alien races, simply by altering your intial "powers" and whatnot: yes, you still get the "human" graphics, but from the game perspective, that's just window dressing.
I'm loving this game: I can play a few moves while doing something else, then return and play a few more moves. The AI is sickeningly good, even at lower levels. Reminds me a lot of when I played Alpha Centauri.
And the support is just great: instead of moving on to Galactic Civilizations II or some other game, Stardock is continuing to provide great content for the game (and, with the next expansion, more customizations). It is a great model for gaming support.