LittleBigPlanet (LBP hereafter) is one of Sony’s biggest blockbuster games for the PS3. Original IP, beautiful graphics, and new ideas all packed into one package. Sounds like a sure winner? Read on to find out…
LBP is broken into two parts. The first part is basically a 2D(ish) platformer ala classic Mario. We’ll talk about this first. You control a character referred to as a Sackboy. Your particular Sackboy is not special in any way…he or she appears to be just one of many. You can also customise your Sackboy in many ways, changing the clothing and colours and facial expression and so on. The amount of customisability is impressive, but it doesn’t have any affect on gameplay. The game has you controlling your customised Sackboy on a 2D plane, in an environment rendered in 3D, generally travelling eternally towards the right.
This is where the first problem comes in….If they wanted to make a 2D game, that is fine. That is great. I love 2D! I wish there was more 2D games out there! But LBP is not really 2D. There are actually 3 different 2D planes that your character can occupy, foreground, middle ground, and background. You can switch between them manually by pushing up and down on the analogue stick, or sometimes the game will decide to change automatically for you if the choice is obvious.
I really hate this triple plane mechanic. I was constantly changing planes accidentally, never knowing which plane I should be on, falling to my doom if I changed planes on a bridge that only occupied one plane. It becomes even worse when you have multi player; it’s just too confusing. Your always getting stuck behind objects, falling into pits you thought weren’t a hazard. Mario only had one plane, Mario worked fine. Why can’t they just have one plane? Eventually I got used to the triple planes…but I never liked them. They always remained annoying.
One thing I never got used to, and is a potential game breaker, are the controls. For a platformer that relies on accurate timing and precise jumps, the controls are very unresponsive. Your character feels sluggish, doesn’t really jump how you expect him to jump. It just feels wrong. Another thing that only adds to the control problems are the physics. I’m not sure what they were trying to do with it; is it suppose to be realistic? It doesn’t feel realistic. The speed at which objects move around seems wrong, and the forces at work feel exaggerated. It becomes extremely difficult and frustrating to predict how far a jump will take you. Really, for me, the controls and physics ruined this game.
The second part of this game, is of course the tool set provided to create your own levels. The tools are quite good, and very powerful. I can’t really fault this part of the game, except that it’s not really a “game”. I never really got into the whole level creation thing. Just not my thing. But if you enjoy it, you’ll probably have a great time with LBP.
The whole thing is online, so you can play multiplayer (up 4 people) and download other people’s levels which they have created. Multiplayer worked well, and most levels have parts especially designed for 2 or more players. The user created levels are well…not very good. At least none of the ones I played. The vast majority are quick achievement earning levels. There are also many stories of Sony’s heavy handed moderation, removing levels left and right with no notice. Perhaps in time, some brilliant user created levels will appear, but this is only a hope.
At the end of the day, I cannot honestly recommend LBP. It looked great on paper; a fresh presentation and beautiful graphics, plus a feature packed level creator. I was really looking forward to this game, I was very excited. But, unfortunately, the gameplay doesn’t make the cut.
Looks gorgeous, can't fault the graphics. Only complaint is load times are a bit long.
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Problems with controls and game mechanics. Really let this game down.
Some nice tunes and overall all aspects well done.
No point playing a game that doesn't stay fun for long.
Lots of potential, but unfortunately a let down.