Review by horror_spooky
"Play. Create. Share."
One of the main reasons why I decided to finally purchase a PlayStation 3 was the unique and charming platformer, LittleBigPlanet. This game is easily one of the PlayStation's most important system exclusives, and it really is breathtaking. What is it about Media Molecule's Sackboy-centric platformer that makes it so amazing, though?
LittleBigPlanet is simple, yet gorgeous and amazing and complex all at once. When the game opens and the British narrator starts talking, everything just falls into place. Walking along with your Sackboy is an experience that everyone with a PS3 should experience. The opening credits pop up in the background, with the funny pictures of the developers appearing alongside their names. It's quite possibly the most original way to open a game ever. And then the customization starts.
The British man prompts players to customize their Sackboy or girl. There are a slew of options available to gamers to make their Sackboys truly unique. Furthermore, there are stickers that can be placed strategically on the Sackboy or girl to add an even more original flair. Since this is the Game of the Year Edition of LBP, the game also comes packed-in with extra costumes to choose from, in case someone feels too lazy to create their own Sackperson. These costumes include ones based on History, as well as some based on Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, another very important PlayStation 3 exclusive title (there is also costumes with a horror theme).
This Sackperson is used throughout the game's storyline levels. Players can save costumes and alter their Sackperson at any point in the game. The storyline levels are accessed via a cute and unique menu system that looks like a rocket ship, called the "pod." The pod also provides access to bonus levels created by Media Molecule based on history and Metal Gear Solid (GOTY edition exclusive), community levels that are packaged in with the disc (also GOTY editoin exclusive), and an area for players to create their own levels.
The storyline levels are fine, with some shining moments thrown in here and there. Some of the levels are just bad, with weak platforming and too big a focus on precision when the game's controls really don't provide much of that. What I mean by this is, LittleBigPlanet works on a side-scrolling plane where there are three different sections players can jump to. There is the front of the game, closest to the screen, the middle, and the back, farthest from the screen and often behind objects. The problem with this is the game will sometimes automatically readjust players when they're jumping across gaps with platforms set at different points of these three planes. While this definitely staves off unneeded frustrations that would have otherwise been present, it also makes precise platforming a pain in the neck. Let's assume there's a prize bubble on the middle platform, but the game constantly shoves you to the front platform. In your attempts to reach the prize bubble, you fall off and to your death below, making you restart at the last checkpoint. It's annoying, and could be handled a different way, I believe.
Mixed in with the storyline levels are little mini-games that are oftentimes a lot more entertaining. These levels are most of the time races, where the object is to complete the level as quickly as possible. Sometimes the game will ask players to stand on a giant skateboard, and then push the skateboard over an edge and down a perilous hill. They will pick up speed and zoom along the levels at an alarming rate. With a perfect frame-rate, it's definitely moments like these that LBP should have focused on, instead of the sometimes dull and unsatisfying storyline levels.
I keep referring to them as storyline levels because that's what they are called in the game. However, LittleBigPlanet doesn't really have much of a story. Players interact with the game's inhabitants and solve their problems. Towards the end of the game an antagonist is introduced, but it's just way too kiddy to be taken seriously. That's another thing. The game can't seem to decide whether it wants to be oriented just towards young children or to everyone, in terms of the presentation of the game's universe and the plot. The narrator says (gasp) "sexy" at the beginning of the game, but the rest of the game is very child-like. Gameplay-wise, anyone, and everyone, can have fun with this game.
In the levels, players have the goal of completing the little mini-puzzles and tasks given to them by LittleBigPlanet's inhabitants. They can also collect points and prize bubbles. These prize bubbles contain new stickers that can open the door for other opportunities in previously completed levels. Stickers can be placed on certain blank objects in the game to activate new areas. Prize bubbles also contain new objects to use in the creation system and stuff of that nature.
It's very, very difficult to create your own custom-made levels in the game. It takes a lot of time and dedication for players to pull off anything remotely good, but if the effort is put into it, the creation tools in LBP can yield some amazing results. After going through the long and bloated tutorials though, it's basically a learn as you go type of deal. Players are going to learn by using a hands-on approach, and try their hand on crafting their own special creations. It's a learning process with a steep curve, but the most creative players will fall in love with this game.
The creation system is very expansive and impressive. Like I said, you can create your own Sackperson, as well as your own levels. Not only that, but players can also add their own goals to the levels and also craft their own enemies. Enemies can be created and programmed at different levels to attack the players. This really impressed me the most out of all the aspects of the creation tools. Not only that though, but players can add music to the levels, place speech bubbles, and really make something of their own. In short, LittleBigPlanet is amazing when it comes to the creation aspect.
Bonus levels are also included in this GoTY Edition of LittleBigPlanet. These bonus levels, excluding the community levels also available, are Metal Gear Solid 4 themed, as well as history themed and horror themed. They are interesting, I suppose, and do add a nice amount of replayability to the title. Still, the real meat and potatoes comes from the user-generated content.
Gamers can create their own levels and upload them to the PlayStation Network. From there, other players can download the levels and share their own. By hearting levels and authors, the best LittleBigPlanet creators can be made known to the world thanks to the great community. The online aspect of the game is really awesome, and playing with up to three other players online makes the otherwise average storyline levels much better.
Online multiplayer isn't the only option available to players. The game also allows for four-player co-op on a single console. It's not quite New Super Mario Bros. Wii, but LittleBigPlanet gets the job done and provides plenty of entertainment. When you factor in the fact that multiple players can help create levels together, LittleBigPlanet's focus on co-op and competitive co-op really shines. I've said it multiple times already, but I will say it again. This game is amazing.
The Sackboys/girls are really cute and really awesome. Their design is so simple and yet so alluring. The game's worlds are gorgeous in their simplicity as well. It really looks like someone just took a bunch of household items and crafted video game worlds out of them, and that's part of what makes LBP so cool. On top of that, the framerate is solid throughout the entire game, except in created levels that sometimes chug along at a sluggish pace. The animation is the game is top-notch. Players can alter their Sackperson's facial expressions using the d-pad, and can control each individual limb by using a combination of the control sticks and the shoulder buttons.
Pulling off these funny poses helps give the game user-inspired charm. There is a camera tool included in the game as well to capture these funny moments and keep them on your PlayStation 3 forever. Not to mention that the game also incorporates motion control using the PlayStation 3's Sixaxis controller. Players can move the heads or hips of their Sackperson by tilting the controller in different directions. It's also possible to slap other Sackpeople by holding a shoulder button and roughly snapping either the left or right stick in their respective directions. Awesome.
The British man's voice is soothing and interesting. That sounds weird to say, but the man possesses the perfect voice for a narrator. His voice-overs really help suck players into this unique and crazy world. The game's charm owes a lot to him. The background music for the levels is generally upbeat and exciting as well, providing plenty of awesome music to kick back and listen to as players go through the levels.
Completing the story levels can be accomplished in no time at all. Collecting all the items, however, is another story. This will take a ton of time, not to mention there are a ton of user-created levels to try out. The offline and online co-op modes add replayability, and players can even create their own levels! LittleBigPlanet was also one of the first PS3 games to include trophy support, so there are also trophies to try to collect. While they aren't as fun to strive for as achievements, the trophy system still manages to add extra replayability to the game.
LittleBigPlanet: Game of the Year Edition is quite simply one of the best purchases a person could make for their PlayStation 3. The gameplay isn't perfect by any means, but the game just has so much unique charm and originality, and the other aspects of the title stand out. It's one of the most original and ambitious video games of all time. It's LittleBigPlanet. So get out there. Play. Create. Share.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 11/04/10
Game Release: LittleBigPlanet: Game of the Year Edition (US, 09/08/09)
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