Sony has given gamers an impressive amount of opportunities for user generated content from Sound Shapes to inFamous 2. For LittleBigPlanet, the next step is a collaboration with the ModNation Racers franchise. The result is not only the deepest user generated racing game ever, but it alsomarks the first step in making LittleBigPlanet a 3D spatial experience.
- Solid kart performance and handling
- LittleBigPlanet in the 3D space
- Satisfying toolset
- Steep advanced design learning curve
LittleBigPlanet Karting Review:
Pairing LittleBigPlanet studio Media Molecule and ModNation Racers’ United Front Games sounds like the biggest no-brainer of Sony's current publishing portfolio. Both studios are adeptly talented at providing the tools for user generated levels and customization. And for all the attention and accolades LBP has gotten and the countless imaginative levels made by its community, ModNation Racers deserves equal credit for its patented track designer and other easy-to-use interfaces. To have aUnited Front Games kart racer designed as a LittleBigPlanet game sounds good in concept. As it turns out, the execution is even better.
United Front mostly keeps to its racing formula, and it’s worth the attention of the ModNation faithful despite that this game has the LittleBigPlanet name. The handling physics and controls will feel familiar to genre vets and the game retains the classic unpredictability found in all great kart games. Even if you can see the finish line, you can go from 1st place to 6th at the blink of an eye. The simple arcade style mechanics are here, where your main controls revolve around hitting the gas, activating weapons and drifting. As a positive new feature, the game lets you sacrifice your current weapon and turn it into a temporary shield, which is disappears after absorbing an enemy attack
This wouldn’t be a true karting game without multiplayer and this game serves that need superbly. In fact, a friend can join you locally to work through the story mode. Local versus play supports four friends although some minor visual detail is lost in order to maintain a high frame rate forsplitscreen. Online multiplayer is supported as well which complements the level creation and sharing appeal of the LittleBigPlanet Karting.
There’s depth to be found in many aspects of LittleBigPlanet Karting even before you dive deep into actual crafting. Like previous LBPs, pre-made levels were conceived with the same tools available to the player and will surely inspire newcomers on what can be made with a little imagination. Each LBP planet has a mascot and the studio also pays homage to previous games in the series, like reprising Victoria's Lab from LittleBigPlanet 2. Beyond point-to-point races, you can have weapon-centric battle modes, boss fights, mini games and side missions, all in the context of kart racing. Then there are the tuning options, carried over and refined from ModNation Racers; from steering to engine sounds, there are many options available for a single kart.
Karting also keeps the LBP tradition of having a story mode. The narrative isn't deep: Craftworld is in peril once again as valuable items have been stolen by a new enemy known as the Hoard. Sackboy finds himself racing against these many Hoarders to get these items back. Storytelling is especially significant in this game since this is the first LittleBigPlanet that goes beyond the 2D layered design. We're talking about customized cutscenes, so cinephiles will enjoy storyboarding their new LBP levels.
LittleBigPlanet Karting finally gives the player the power to finally manipulate objects in the 3D space and for advanced users, the ability to build objects. And while the PlayStation Eye is showing its age, it can still be used with Karting to make custom designs and record sounds.
In the scope of just kart racing, viewing options offer the possibility of RC style races or an F1 cockpit in the first person. Just as how users previously created levels that went well beyond LittleBigPlanet's 2D platforming designs, Karting's 3D spaces and letting Sackboy interact in these worlds opens some remarkable possibilities. You can make a tower defense game, a platformer, a pachinko game, and even a rudimentary first person shooter.
LittleBigPlanet Karting also features Move integration although it doesn't offer any practical application in crafting, only kart racing. To use the Move Controller, you'll need to purchase the Racing Wheel accessory. In the context of a high-speed, arcade style kart race, the Move performs adequately as I managed to win a few races. Yet I was never fully comfortable with it as a replacement for my PS3 controller.
The toolset is immense but you’re not required to use every feature to make a basic track. The familiar, albeit modified LBP user interface will make it easy for longtime fans to hit the ground running. There’s a reasonable learning curve for patient newcomers who just want to get a hang of level design fundamentals. Beyond the first set of tips, the curve gets really steep. It doesn’t help that the 90 minutes of tutorial videos aren’t interactive.
For as much as LittleBigPlanet Karting has been pushed as a kart racer, the biggest surprise about thegame is that this is the first title in the series to truly offer 3D space level design and customization. Even if this comes at the expense of the ModNation Racers brand, at least this collaboration makes for an adequate proving ground for more LittleBigPlanet games beyond the 2D plane.