Home | News | Reviews | Previews | Hardware
LittleBigPlanet
Score: 100%
ESRB: Early Childhood
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America
Developer: Media Molecule
Media: Blu-ray/1
Players: 1 - 4; 1 - 4 (Online)
Genre: Platformer/ Editor/ Online

Graphics & Sound:
"Don't be afraid of the space between your dreams and reality. If you can dream it, you can make it so."
-- Belva Davis
LittleBigPlanet is set in a world of dreams, or actually... as a world of dreams; it's introduced as where all of the creative dreams that people have go when they leave Earth. And, creative it is. The graphical treatment is very realistic, but the objects in the world are primarily arts and crafts objects. The players control living, breathing "sack-boy" creatures, and the enemies are constructions that look like toys made out of, well, other toys. Some of the backgrounds look like they're made of cardboard, while others look like they're made of yarn or cotton... a full world is at your fingertips, created with things you might find around the house. It's like playing with dolls (um, ahem... I mean action figures) all over again.

All aspects of the sound are amusing and innovative, while some of it is, quite frankly, hilarious. The tutorials are narrated by a dry-witted British man who sounds very much like John Cleese. The non-player characters that you interact with don't actually talk, but, instead, have word bubbles that display and accompanying sound effects to indicate they're talking. Mind you, these sound effects might be anything from a baby laughing to a monkey shreaking to a long series of belches. The latter first makes me chuckle, then starts to disgust me... every time.

Finally, the music is very relaxing. J.R. Nip has suggested that he finds LittleBigPlanet to have a relaxation quotient of about 0.99 Kmri*. That's very relaxing.

Kmri - Katamari; the unit of measurement indicating how relaxing a game is when played. Katamari Damacy, by definition, has a relaxation quotient of 1.o Kmri.


Gameplay:
LittleBigPlanet is a very interesting game. It is, quite frankly, nearly perfectly made to appeal to, well, anyone who is a child or was at one time in their life. The cuteness appeals to the very young as well as the very old. The young see sack-boy as a virtual toy, while the old see sack-boy as a virtual crocheting project come to life. Girls (statistically) will enjoy the ability to collect and place stickers on the world, while programmers will be impressed by the game's ability to keep track of these environmental changes.

The only people that could dislike this game would have to be people who don't like platformers, I would imagine. As it turns out, my wife isn't so big on platformers. So, I had her try it out. She had seen me play before and she had said that she enjoyed watching me play, but that it wasn't "her type of game." So, I had her play it. At first, it was a bit annoying to her, but as she played a bit more, it seemed that her Donkey Kong Country days were returning to her... After a few tries at different levels, she got to the point that she was choosing "Retry Level" when we lost instead of "Continue" to get out. She eventually stated that it is a game she would play if she were playing with other people. And, as it turns out, LittleBigPlanet is designed to make that overwhelmingly easy.

The standard mode of gameplay in LittleBigPlanet, I suppose, is the Story mode. As you might expect, the first levels teach you about various aspects of playing the game, on top of progressing a storyline. As you progress through the Story mode, you will unlock additional levels, both those that further the story progression and those that are simply challenges to amuse you.

If you grow tired of the levels included with the game, you still have loads of options. You can partner up with a friend or three, for games with up to four sack-boys running around making a mess of things. These can be friends in your living room or friends or strangers on the other side of the world, and getting into an online game is as simple as choosing "Play Online" instead of "Play by Myself" when you choose to play a level. Whether you go it alone or have some friends join you, you can explore a wide variety of levels that were created by players just like you, as well. If you like a level, you can try other levels by the same player and rate that player and their levels.

Finally, as you might have guessed, you can create your own levels, concentrating on that aspect you find to be missing from the game. You can even add stickers with original photos using an PlayStation Eye. LittleBigPlanet puts the power of creating a cute game constructed out of living arts and crafts in your hands. This really is too awesome.


Difficulty:
Listen carefully. Pay close attention. That's it. You're ready.

The tutorials in LittleBigPlanet really do tell you pretty much all you need to know. There was one tutorial that I didn't pay close attention to and, having missed an important piece of information, couldn't figure out how to complete the tutorial. (It turned out I had to place three objects. ug... I thought I was supposed to fill the meter on the left. When you get to this point, you'll laugh.) Playing around with things is completely delightful, as the entire game runs on a fun (yet not completely accurate) physics engine. (It's fun to see what works and what doesn't.) As you play, you'll learn what can be done and how to achieve certain things. It's really not all that difficult, yet it is addictively fun.

If you find yourself stuck from time to time, you can have friends join you to help you out. It's amazing how much help an extra sack-boy can be from time to time.

Finally, I would suggest that if you find youself stuck, try something else. Whether it's progressing the story or not, playing different levels will increase your skills and when you return, you might find it easy to get past that impossible-to-pass part of the level you had problems with.


Game Mechanics:
This game is what I would call a mash-up videogame. It is taking every buzz word that has been buzzing around lately and packing it into a single game that is designed to appease the masses.

LittleBigPlanet has high-definition graphics bordering on photorealistic imagary - of toys and arts and crafts materials. The materials look real and the burned effects look just as real. The physics engine helps to reinforce the "real" feeling, while providing a physics sandbox in which you can simply play. The game features user-created content and a tagging and rating system to help players find the levels they're interested in.

For the tweakers, there are deeply customizable characters. For girls, there are stickers, flowered prints and dresses. For boys, there is camo print clothing, luchadore outfits and explosives. For the casual gamers, there are levels that make the game into, essentially, arcade games. For the aspiring game developer, there is a rich level editing feature. For the anti-social, there is a Story mode with lots of levels. For the socialite, there's multiplayer capability, online or local, and special parts of the story missions that require two sack-boys to access an area or solve a puzzle. For those who like to watch, the game has wonderful sounds, beautiful graphics and allows you to change your character's portrayed emotions to multiple levels of happy, sad, scared and angry, as well as to independently control your sack-boy's arms. Your sack-boy characters is, essentially, your personal on-screen Muppet and you can use that to your advantage to help entertain anyone who's just watching.

I can't really imagine anyone giving LittleBigPlanet a shot and not liking it. This should be the game of the 2008 holiday season. The only reason it won't be is because it is only available on a single system. However, LittleBigPlanet could be the game to buy a PS3 for.


-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

This site best viewed in Internet Explorer 6 or higher or Firefox.