LittleBigPlanet PS Vita Review
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This compelling, imaginative adventure is the best LittleBigPlanet yet and breaks new ground in a hybrid space of touch-and-button-based gaming that is only possible on PlayStation Vita.
- Exceptional platforming and level design, augmented by clever new mechanics
- An empowering suite of creation tools that take full advantage of PS Vita's unique features
- Bridges the gap between console-quality gaming and mobile accessibility
- The rare inconsistency with touch response
- No support for user-made levels from previous installments
(continued from previous page) ...them: touch can be completely ignored in favor of buttons, but it's likely you'll settle in with some combination of the two. I personally found swiping and scrolling with my fingers made Pop-It navigation a breeze, but rotating objects felt better when performed with the right analog stick versus sliding two fingers across the screen in opposite directions. Once you find your niche, you're free to go nuts with every creation tool from LittleBigPlanet 2 and a whole host of new options that make creative use of touch and tilt.
Tarsier Studios and Double Eleven have done an admirable job of showcasing what's possible with these creation tools in the Score Challenges and mini-games that unlock as you play through the story. You can rotate the Vita to play touch-based air hockey with a friend, play Snood with flowers, or smash Sackpeople back into the ground a la Whack-a-Mole. Almost every side attraction is worthy fun, but the developers didn't stop there. An entire world – The Arcade – is dedicated to bite-sized gaming as a proof-of-concept for the Vita's feature set. The five Arcade games are wildly different in concept, but each is presented in unmistakable iOS format: incredibly easy to learn, relatively difficult to master, and ready to dish out a three-star rating for each of the dozens of levels on offer. My favorite, Tapling, plays like a mash-up of LIMBO and Escape Plan. A hauntingly muted art style draws you in, but devious death traps stand between you and freeing your caged friends. It's the stuff of 99-cent indie glory, and I'm beside myself with excitement to see what inspiration will be drawn from these examples by the incredibly talented creators out there.
Therein lies the beauty of LittleBigPlanet PS Vita. No gameplay stone is left unturned, no single idea outside the realm of possibility. The story levels and mini-games leverage touch, tilt, and buttons to craft console-quality platforming, bite-sized fun, and compelling hybrids of each. This is the uncharted territory that LittleBigPlanet lays claim to, the new frontier where tradition and modernity come together in sweet harmony. As each new level loaded, my mind whirled with the possibilities and my heart thumped with anticipation. I was rarely let down, and a joyful grin was plastered across my face throughout. What's new is exciting, and LittleBigPlanet PS Vita offers both in spades.
New features help keep the whole experience grounded in portability. No local ad-hoc multiplayer is a bummer, but the ability to download and store community levels means that you never have to be without new content. Simply download a fresh batch of interesting levels at home and take them with you to play where 3G and Wi-Fi can't follow. Beyond playing, creating, and sharing anywhere, requisite Near functionality helps flesh out the already-burgeoning social network of LittleBigPlanet Vita. You can post high-score challenges and level links to your friends, and see what others in your area have published. This interaction should foster good-natured rivalries and tight-knit creation communities come release day.
For all of its victories, LittleBigPlanet Vita needs no pass in the technical department. This game is every bit the visual stunner as its console brethren, with memorable music to boot. Keen-eyed veterans might notice a bit less superfluous detail in the environments, but I was hard-pressed to find any appreciable difference. LittleBigPlanet Vita looks fantastic and, in my dozens of hours of playtime, never once stuttered with a glitch or framerate drop. Every corner, cutscene, and level is diamond-polished, completely freeing the player to enjoy the gameplay variety and fun on offer. Of course, not every level hits a home run; a few mini-games are forgettable, and the occasional bout of platforming is finicky. I've already mentioned that touch and tilt responsiveness is consistent throughout, but one particular mechanic (spinning a grabbable wheel) was hit-and-miss in the few levels where it appeared.
Meaningless gripes aside, the brilliance of Sackboy's new outing was apparent to me within minutes of playing. Less apparent is the direction of causality between this game and Sony's young handheld. Was LittleBigPlanet made for PlayStation Vita, a platform that could lift the former's imaginative appeal to staggering new heights? Or was the feature-packed Vita made for LittleBigPlanet, a canvas upon which Sony could paint the future ... (continued on next page)