Not all legos are equal, they have sort of diverged into two types: the traditional brick type (and in that I include even the specialized pieces, as long as they fit together in the traditional stud/brick mechanism) and the Technic/Mindstorms type, which use pieces more like girders that fit together with special connectors. The brick type has moved more in the licensing/set model direction, and those I sort of agree that the creativity seems to be missing these days. But I have to admit I'm glad they came up with a decent lego millenium falcon, which was absolutely perfect for my son for Christmas a year ago.
On the other hand, the Technic/Mindstorms type still focuses a lot on creativity, with alternate directions for different models included, and lots of resources available for idea books and programming and such. If you look on the Lego education site, they seemed to almost have moved in the opposite/more creative direction, with resources for bodging together Mindstorms electronic components with a metal frame & RC servo-based robotics construction system (vertex? Tetrix? I forget what it was called) that another company makes.
Bottom line, if you want to emphasize creativity, go Technic early, then maybe branch off to mindstorms.