Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Like Uncharted, LittleBigPlanet is a game that only recently caught my attention. After a bit of research into it, I quickly became excited; the game really looked great. Apparently, I wasn't alone, as, despite Sony's marketing campaign, LittleBigPlanet took many people by surprise with its cute and fun charm, coupled with its polished gameplay and incredible replay value.

Three words: Play, Create, and Share. Those are the words that form the game's marketing slogan, and also the words that best sum up the game as a whole, and the game's developer, Media Molecule, has stressed the idea that no one of the three is more important the other two.

For the "Play" component, you and up to three other players, online or offline (or any combination of the two) control highly customizable (and undeniably cute) "Sack boys/girls" as you work together to complete a level. LittleBigPlanet is a 2.5D (3D graphics, 2D gameplay) platformer that plays similarly to the old Sonic and Mario games, with a lot of twists thrown in with the typical run and jump formula. In addition to jumping, your Sackperson can also grab and push things (and other Sack people). Throughout your travels, you'll come across all manner of contraptions, such as cars, air ships, and trains. The folks at Media Molecule have created a set number of stages that ship with the game, and are organized into a story campaign. The story isn't a masterpiece, but that's fine since, more importantly, it gets you well used to what the game is all about, and how best to play it.

You'll also come across numerous bubble objects that often contain items, like stickers, decorations, materials, or things to further customize your Sack person with. Though they are predominantly just cosmetic, you'll sometimes encounter blank cardboard shapes which, when given the right sticker, activate special areas or more prize bubbles. Bubbles further your score and, when found in quick succession, can quickly multiply. Online leaderboards inform you how well you did compared to other players at the end of each level.
You'll start the game in your pod, which is a small space ship overlooking three planets: LittleBigPlanet, where the story takes place, the InfoMoon, where you can access a wealth of information and view your friends and profile, and MyMoon, home to all of your custom levels. Other players, online or off, can join you at any time, whether you're in a level, in your pod, or creating a level. Your pod can also be decorated with stickers and decorations.

The "Create" aspect covers level building. At any time after you've completed the initial tutorial levels, you can use the materials you've acquired so far to craft your own level from the ground up. Using various tools, you can add music, living creatures that can be programmed to speak to you, elements like electric floors and elevators, just about anything you can dream up can be made with relative ease here. Unfortunately, the game does force you to go through a lot of tutorials before you can really get to work, but they are mostly brief, and they're all actual levels that you play through, not just videos you sit and watch. Fortunately, loading times between your level and a tutorial level are fairly brief, so being forced to go through them is forgivable. Friends can also join you while you build, with all of you working as a team to build the perfect level.

Most of the "Share" aspect is online. This encompasses publishing your level online for others to play, trying out other people's levels, and commenting on them. Though the system is organized a little a sloppily, its not a big thing to complain about, and doesn't take away much from the overall experience.

Like I mentioned before, your Sackperson is fully customizable. The game ships with dozens of clothing and facial options for your little guy on the disc, and even more are readily available from the Playstation Store, some for free, some for a couple bucks. Examples of downloadable costumes include Ryu from Street Fighter, Old Snake from Metal Gear Solid 4 (complete with the Solid Eye and The Boss's bandanna), Santa Claus, and a Chimera from Resistance 2. All of these come in pieces, not sets, so you can mix and match elements of different costumes, like using Ryu's hairstyle, bandanna, and red gloves with Santa's coat and trousers. Add a large mustache and goatee and you've got a Sack boy to call your own.

LittleBigPlanet is a great game. Even if you're not connected to the internet, the fairly long campaign stuffed full of hidden items, not to mention the full featured level builder, adds an unprecedented amount of replay value to the game. Add in 4 player cooperative multiplayer that is very humorous at times, and you've got a golden package. LittleBigPlanet isn't perfect, it has its stutters occasionally, but overall its a game full of fun adventures. A 9.5/10, in my opinion.

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