LittleBigPlanet must have been just about THE title next to Metal Gear Solid 4 to get people running towards a store to buy a Playstation3. Whether Sony has succeeded in this or not can be read below and who knows: maybe you’ll soon be lining up in the cold in front of the local store’s door to get a copy.
If you’ve been living on another planet the last couple of months and have never heard of LittleBigPlanet it’s about time you understand where all the hype comes from. This game, invented by the people of Media Molecule gives you the possibility to create an entire world with the craziest things you can imagine. The “background story” is that all things you dream about go to another dimension and form a little planet. This also explains the title and the most bizarre objects you encounter in-game later on.
Central figure is the so-called “Sackboy” who you not only use throughout the game to finish levels but also helps in making your own creations. The fun thing about this character is that he’s completely adjustable. At first you have to do with a brown doll but quickly you can transform him from an ugly sackboy to one of the coolest characters you can think of. You want a dark ninja or a rough hippie, you choose as long as you’ve found the right objects in the game. Next to the clothing and face of your Sackboy you can also mimic certain expressions with the Playstation3 controller. With the Sixaxis’ D-pad you can let Sackboy into certain directions and with some other buttons you can have him express certain emotions.
The story mode offers several locations that all have their own specific style. You’ll encounter just about any surrounding we know from our world, like savannas or forests to even a vulcanic setting. The levels as such are quite ingeniously put together and immediately show what the game’s community can invent later on. Here you also find a ton of bubbles that contain objects like stickers, music, outfits and even complete parts of a level. Some are just laying on the ground while for others you’ll have to solve a puzzle like putting enough weight into a box so that a gate opens. All these parts don’t need to be gathered in your first attempt as you can replay all levels countless times and collect everything. Still you can’t get all bubbles on your own. For some objects you’ll have to solve puzzles for which you’ll need the help of one or three other players through the integrated co-op function.
The level layout is as such quite simple, you look at the game in a 2D view and next to the joysticks only need two other buttons, the R1 to grab something and X to jump. This seems quite limited but each level has three layers so that in effect you have three levels stacked together. You’ll for instance be able to change layer with your Sackboy to collect certain objects or evade certain obstacles.
When you’ve gone through the single player for the first time you of course will want to play the part that has been causing all the hype, the possibility to create your own level. Luckily you’re not thrown in front of the lions but get to use existing templates from the Story Mode to start with. These are without interactive objects but you won’t need to occupy yourself with creating backgrounds and structure.
Creativity is central and just about anything that comes up in your mind can be invented going from a side-scrolling Killzone2 look-a-like to a tetris game. These ideas will still need to be transformed with the help of “tools” and those can be found in the Poppit menu.
In this menu that you call up with the help of Sackboy you’ll find all gathered and won materials and you can adjust these by cutting and pasting in them. If you want to equal the quality of the levels from the Story Mode you’ll be occupied for several hours. Not only the intelligence of your friends and enemies need to be set up but also the boobie traps and obstacles need to be pre-programmed so they know how to react when a player influences them. This may seem quite complex but once you get the hang of it you’ll quickly start delivering quality that can match that of Media Molecule.
Graphically you can make the game simple or colorful depending on your own taste. The objects and environments are well done and have something of a cartoony look. Still this won’t stop you from creating a dark atmosphere. The sound can only be seen as a big positive point and throughout the game you’ll find plenty of sound fragments and tracks so that you’ll be able to implement a suiting sound and music for any creation you can think of.
As the available levels in the game are quite limited you’re almost forced to get some additional ones through the online possibilities from the game. The game is “make or break” by the community but if we have to base ourselves on the available levels of the moment it’s already a big success! You can always get your own creativity going but if you’re lacking in that department you still won’t get bored with LittleBigPlanet.