Genre: Strategy Developer: Media Molecule Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment Classification: G Release Date: 31st Oct 2008 Platforms:PS3
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The Good bits
Great multiplayer - both online and offline.
Fun to play - despite some frustration.
Infinite possibilities with user created levels.
The Bad stuff
Better to be a player than a creator.
Some glitches in the 2.5D style of gameplay.
The problem with LittleBigPlanet is that it's better to be a player than a creator. To get all the little building blocks in the game a creator will have to play through the entire thing - or at least enough of the game to feel happy with what they've got. A player on the other hand can simply play the game - they don't have to worry about necessarily completing the game or finding all the little pieces. While a creator will strive to 100% the game so they have everything available, if a level gets too annoying for a player (and there are some pretty annoying stages) they can just go download
something someone's made. And they'll keep having fun.
So LBP is skewed in favour of the player. Maybe this makes sense - after all, it is a game - but it does make us wonder why MM force people to play through the game to unlock these things. An elegant solution to encouraging people to experience the game would be offering non-essentials - like Sackboy costumes - via the story game and allowing people to access everything else immediately.
The Sackboy costumes would be worth playing through the game for as well - that and the charming tale each story location tells. While you're definitely better off playing every part of LBP with a friend (a competent friend) the story campaign is mostly good enough to keep you enthralled even on your own. The game is quite challenging in parts as well, but it's a welcome challenge.
The challenge is a result of the game's 2.5 d perspective. It plays like a side-scrolling platformer like Mario or Sonic, but the player can jump back or forward into the world to interact with different objects. Sometimes the plane you're on won't shift as you imagine it should, which results in your character making errors and occasionally dying. It's probably an unavoidable issue - things like this are bound to happen - but it is still a sucky way to die.
The other challenge in the game brings us back to creating - making a level is a time-consuming, involved experience. It's definitely not an exact science, and you definitely need a very complete understanding of the physics of the game to truly make anything good quickly. Even something as simple as a home made car can take a lot of effort to comprehend as you fiddle with exact placement of the materials and struggle to get things right.
The issue is primarily with the control system itself - the DualShock 3 or Sixaxis control pad. Take the car example for instance - having one wheel a tiny amount higher than the other will change how your car moves and reacts, and it adds an element of trial and error into the game. Experience plays a big part here though - testing these little issues becomes less of a problem the more you play the game.
Creating just a small piece of your in-game world is worthwhile though - unleash your made-from-scratch rocket car on your friends and their initial reaction is "Yeah... ok." Reveal that you created it yourself however, and watch their eyes light up in amazement. LBP is one of those bridging games - I was able to get my non-gamer friends to try it out and they really enjoyed themselves - to the point that one of them is purchasing a PlayStation 3.
In reality, LittleBigPlanet is a game with all the right ingredients - maybe just not quite the right mix. Playing alone isn't the best way to experience it - unless you're creating a level - but playing with your friends is absolutely fantastic. The gameplay can be somewhat iffy and falling through a level highlights the difficulty even the developers can have with creating a level, but with the right support LBP will be capable of amazing things. If you have more than one PS3 control pad or someone online to play with, LittleBigPlanet is a must have addition to your PS3 experience - I don't think it's a system seller though.
Little Big Planet is a great multiplayer game for everyone; little kids, big kids, adults and even the 15+ . Its unique gameplay style where you can play the story mission and also be a creator is quite entertaining and has a high replay value. You have to play every level more then once to unlock all the stickers and parts. Online experience is even more fun where you try to complete other levels created by people across the globe.
The only major flaw is that it is better to be a player then a creator. But it is always more fun playing then making!