Every once in a while a game comes along that makes people sit up and take notice. A game so original and so unique that it completely revolutionizes the game industry.
LittleBigPlanet (or LBP) is such a game. Not only does it take the platforming genre back to it's roots but it also completely re-invents the DIY level editors found in lesser games. I'll go into more detail on the Level Editor in a moment.
First let me explain exactly what to expect when you first pop the disc into your PS3 (or download it from the PS Store).
What is LittleBigPlanet?
LitteBigPlanet is.. at it's heart.. a side-scrolling platform game.
You play as Sackboy. He's a little fabric character that is as love-able and adorable as a kitten in a picnic basket. He can jump and grab and not a lot else. You can also make him smile, be sad, angry or even make him look worried. You can move his head or hips using the Sixaxis motion controller but that's just for a bit of fun.
Even though Sackboy only has 2 main actions (jumping and grabbing) he can still do an awful lot with those 2 abilities. He can push, pull, swing, pull levers, jump on buttons and he can even smack other players.
The best thing about Sackboy is that he can be customized to your liking. The game offers an immense array of clothing, colors, accessories, patterns etc etc to make your Sackboy (or Sackgirl) unique. Tuxedos, wedding dresses, hoodies, baseball caps, devil horns, evil eyes, mini skirts, cowboy boots and everything else you can think of. Every Sackboy or Sackgirl truly is unique to their player. You really get immersed into the game because your Sackboy feels like it's yours and nobody else's.
Not everything is available from the start though. You'll need to play through the levels to find more items to use. Every level has secret areas to find. Some require more than 1 player to get access to which means you'll be replaying levels with friends to try and get that elusive donkey tail.
Sackboy is only half of the beauty of LBP though. The levels are even more impressive. Each of the 50+ Story levels are rich and vibrant in color and feature some of the most catchy and addictive music to ever grace a video game. The levels are all made with a strong emphasis on real world materials and objects. You'll see wood, metal, stone, sponge, glass, polystyrene, etc etc. But also springs, pistons, bolts and elastic.
It also uses real life physics so not only do the levels look familiar but everything behaves exactly how it should too. It adds a certain charm to the game because everything looks and sounds authentic. Run across glass and you'll hear the distinct sound of glass, open a metal door and you'll hear the metallic clank as it slams into place. Each material also acts like it's real world counterpart. Stone is rough and heavy making it harder to move while sponge is light and can be grabbed.
Each level has incredible detail and thought provoking puzzles and mechanics making it hard not to enjoy the experience. There's a certain sense of fun everytime you jump into a level.
There's no story in LBP per-se. Instead all of the 50+ levels are divided into groups and each group of levels have a their own unique mini-story and have their own theme. For example there's a Wild West theme, Egyptian, Chinese, Construction Yard theme, mechanical theme, safari theme and many others.
It's the perfect way to keep you coming back as after every few levels you beat you'll see something fresh and new.
Another thing worth mentioning is that EVERY single level that you see in LBP has been made using the game's own Level Editor. Yes, the developers made the levels using the Level Editor. Which in my opinion is genius.
Everything that you see in LBP can be recreated by you if you want.
The below video shows an example of some of the easier, earlier levels.
LBP also supports 4 player co-op on screen at once. So you and 3 friends can play together without the screen being split into 4 tiny sections.
4 Players video..
To get the most out of LBP you really do need to have 2 things.
1. An imagination.
2. Be connected online.
You may look at the videos within this review and think to yourself "that looks really kiddy and childish". Well so does Mario but millions of adults play it daily. Why? Because it's pure fun.
But you're right it does 'look' childish. Don't judge a book by it's cover though. This game is so much deeper than what you see in those videos and images. So far I've only touched on half of the game. The main story is only the beginning. Once you look past the story that's when things get interesting and more grown up.
Games such as Red Alert, Age Of Empires, Tenchu (PS2) and even Timesplitters (PS2) have all attempted to allow gamers make their own levels or maps. However, unless you have a diploma from Yale those self-made levels usually felt plain, unprofessional and bland. It was impossible to make something as good (or even better) than what the developers have done for the game' main story. In however LBP players HAVE made levels that are better than the Story levels.
The Level Editor in LBP is by far the most advanced Level Editor ever to see the light of day on a video game. It comes with every single tool that the developers used to make the main story levels. If you can imagine it, you can make it in LBP. Going into the Level Editor is where the kids get left outside because even though it's extremely user friendly you do need the skill and the intelligence to create good levels. Anyone can create a level but not anyone can create a good level. It requires time, patience and a vivid imagination.
Here's a video showing the building process of a very simple little level.
You can change the lighting, add sound effects, add music, change the camera, add water, add enemies, fire hazards, make robots, make cranes, cars, motorbikes, basically anything you can imagine.
Thankfully the game provides many tutorials and tips to get you started in the Editor but it's up to you to piece it all together into something marvellous.
Of course once you make a level you will want to show it off to the world. In LBP you can publish your levels for everyone else to play. Not only can others play it but they can also leave comments and feedback. They can even rate your level using a 5-Star rating system. They can also add it to their favourite levels or they can even add you to their favourite creators. Think of it like Youtube but with user made levels instead of videos.
To kind of give an idea of how advanced the level editor truly can be if given enough time and effort, let me direct you to one certain level that was created by a player in the beta before the game was even released.
Yes he made a fully functioning calculator. Others have made First Person Shooters, music levels, racing levels and pretty much anything else that you can think of.
The youngsters can of course try to make levels (and many have, going by some of the levels I've seen online) but it takes an adult brain to truly create something worth creating.
Here's one I made:
Or here are 2 more of mine:
Without online LBP is just another platforming game like Mario or Sonic.
However with your PS3 hooked up to broadband it literally becomes an entirely different experience. Play a level with 3 friends online or just browse the millions of user-made levels. That number isn't an exaggeration by the way. Last time I checked there were 2.3 million levels published online. Every single day you will find new levels to play. The game literally is endless.
To sum it all up let me just say that LBP has provided me with literally hundreds of hours of game time. It has changed my mind about the direction in which video games are going. Original, fun and genuinely good games are still being made and LBP is proof of that.
If you have the slightest interest in platforming or even the slightest interest in making your own levels then LBP is the best game you can possibly buy this generation.
Very easy to get the hang of and very user friendly.
A mix bag of all different themed short stories.
Every object sounds realistic and matches it's action perfectly. With the legendary Stephen Fry as the narrator the voice talent is top notch.
A great mix of all types of genres. From pop to orchestral.
With millions of levels to play and more being created daily it really is a never-ending game.
Final Score: 9.8/10
Almost perfect in every way.
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