PS3 Review: LittleBigPlanet

Can Sackboy be Sony’s new gaming icon?

Besides Mario, Crash Bandicoot, Ratchet and Clank and possibly the old style Sonic games, there has been a lack of any new platformers for years. The recent release of Banjo Kazooie on XBLA reminded me how much I loved the genre and how it needs reviving, desperately.

Into the arena comes LittleBigPlanet, a platformer with a difference. You can design your own levels, share them online and even hop in to test other gamers’ creations out. The amount of customisation in LBP is simply astonishing and can perhaps be a little jarring at first. The game will first teach you the basics of how to play and after a few levels; you can then jump into other people’s levels or design one of your own.

Your character is Sackboy, who has become something of a gaming icon lately. You can customise him with items you find in the levels and if you have a Playstation Eye, you can add your own content. I sadly don’t have one so I was unable to test that side of things, but it definitely sounds impressive. There is of course the controversy over the original delay of the game thanks to some religious quotes in a background song that had to be removed. I personally thought the whole thing was ridiculous and another sign of political correctness gone mad.

Sony has apparently deleted many user creations as they resemble other games. It’s a shame as I was personally looking forward to playing a user-created remake of Bowser’s Castle in the original Super Mario Bros or maybe a remake of Green Hill Zone from Sonic The Hedgehog. I can see why they did it as they would probably be sued continuously by other game companies, but it’s still disappointing.

The amount of items that you get to add to levels is beyond anything I’ve ever seen before. I’m talking hundreds, if not thousands of items for you to collect and add to your pod or level. Creating a level can take some time but will definitely give you freedom to do whatever you want, as long as you don’t infringe on other games ideas. Having played a number of user-created levels, I’m impressed. Some have even created ones that will earn you several trophies in less than a minute thanks to some pretty smart design choices.

Sackboy handles quite well, although his jump could use with a bit more oomph to it. You do get items like a jetpack to fly high but only for a certain distance. There are other “vehicles” like skateboards, wooden horses that you need to push to gain speed, it’s not bad but doesn’t add much to the gameplay either. I found a problem trying to grab and drag objects as Sackboy would walk towards me and not where he should be going. It’s only happened a few times, but it’s worth pointing out.

LittleBigPlanet is one of those games that won’t appeal to everyone. People might not want to create their own levels as it can be too confusing and scary at first, or they might just prefer a standard platformer. Well even if you don’t like to create, you can still jump into other people’s ideas and see how imaginative they can be, it could also give you inspiration to design one yourself. Plus, the online community can vote on levels so that the better ones stand out and the bad ones are shamed.

Load times are very short. I’m impressed to see that in a game that has such a high level of customisation. The framerate rarely dips, unless you try a level that has thousands of points balls all stacked on each other, getting into that can cause a big dip…but its only on occasions like that it does.

The game looks simply amazing and crisp. Levels are well detailed, of course depending on how you or another player has made it. Either way, it’s a great looking game that deserves high kudos for its level of customisation. Dialogue for tutorials is done by some fellow Brit and fits the game well. In terms of music, the game has a good soundtrack and sound effects. They won’t blow you away like an epic game or film, but it does the job well.

The Verdict

LittleBigPlanet is probably the first PS3 game to stand on its own two feet and impress. The amount that you can do is beyond belief and a sign that Sony is making some progress to entice gamers to buy their console. This is one game that no PS3 owner should be without, add it to your collection and let your imagination run wild.