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LittleBigPlanet is innovation at its finest. It’s beautiful, hilarious, completely unique, and incredibly fun. You can’t afford to miss it.
- Brilliant audiovisual presentation, streamlined interface, and hilarious attitude
- Infinite replayability due to incredible content creation system
- Strong gameplay intertwined with excellent multiplayer experience
- “2.5D” mechanic can prove a bit tricky
Approachable. Brilliant. Classic. Dynamic. Exciting. Fun. Gorgeous. Hilarious. Innovative. Jammin’. Kooky. Lovable. Magical. Numinous. Open. Playful. Quirky. Robust. Splendid. Transcendent. Universal. Vibrant. Wacky. Xenial. Youthful. Zany.
These qualities pervade this big title from the little Media Molecule, a previously unproven team of 30 or so individuals. I’d venture that they’ll have something to put on their resume from now on.
LittleBigPlanet is a masterpiece – that’s evident from the moment you boot it up. For those unfamiliar with the game -- all three of you -- LittleBigPlanet is a platformer at heart, but often transcends its own genre. What’s on the disc, however, is primarily platforming action. As you travel the LittleBigPlanet globe, you’ll meet the seven Creator Curators, who require your assistance for their odd, often comical requests. A coherent story is essentially non-existent, but the game has such a quirky, funny style that a narrative isn’t necessary.
Not that LittleBigPlanet won’t touch you. It’s certainly not the elusive “game that will make you cry,” but it will absolutely make you laugh. To be brutally honest, SackPeople are ridiculously cute. Their wooly exteriors are adorned with tiny little zippers, shiny button-eyes, and whatever else you unlock or create. To further express your endearing SackPerson, four different emotions -- happy, sad, scared and angry -- are mapped to the directional buttons. The mechanic sounds goofy and unimportant, but it’s supremely satisfying to slap a big grin across your SackBoy’s face as you ruthlessly whack your comrades into a nearby fire-pit.
But that’s just the frosting, so what does the cake taste like? First of all, it’s a three-layer cake. LittleBigPlanet is obviously rendered in 3D, but to the untrained eye it appears to be a 2D platformer. That’s partially correct. There are three “dimensions,” a foreground, middle, and background, in which to play. Swapping between these dimensions is relatively simple, but can be a bit irritating at times. This is the game’s principal fault.
On level ground, tap the left stick up or down to move into the background or foreground. This works fine. On uneven terrain, however, it gets a bit trickier. If you jump upwards, SackBoy will automatically move into the background if there’s higher ground above. That can cause some issues. To pinpoint a specific area where I had trouble with this mechanic, on Uncle Jalapeño’s level Boom Town there’s a short segment where you can jump up a small cliffside, present in all but the foreground. Every time I tried to jump up the middle cliff, I’d move right into the background, where I could no longer proceed. I hopped back down to the middle cliff and tried again, but the same thing occurred four or five times before I made it up.
Instances like this are few and far between, so don’t think that the gameplay is inherently flawed. Thankfully, the rest of the primary mechanics are as buttery as could be. You can run, jump and grab with ease, then perform other actions like tilting your SackPerson’s head or hips with motion sensing, and using L2 and R2 to control your SackArms. One thing will take a bit of getting used to, however, is the game’s physics system. I’ve never before played a platformer with such a heavy emphasis on physics. This took a bit of time to become accustomed to, but once I spent a couple of minutes with the game, I immediately saw the benefits of such a system. Movements aren’t predefined whatsoever; velocity and acceleration are taken into account at all times. This gives you the freedom to replay levels without them feeling stale.
Another key implementation in LittleBigPlanet is its multiplayer component. The folks at Media Molecule wisely fused all of the standard multiplayer modes from other games into one grand experience. Multiplayer is neither offline nor online, competitive nor cooperative; it is all of the above. Play with any combination of up to four offline and online SackPeople. Explore story levels or head into the online arena and discover new creations. Compete vigorously for score and prize bubbles, work together to get them all, or ignore them entirely. It’s up to you.
So, you’ve beaten all of ... (continued on next page)
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