EA Create is a bright and approachable puzzle game with lots of options for players to make their own custom levels. They'll also unlock the ability to redecorate every level in the game to give it a more personal touch. The gameplay, however, is rigidly confined to 2D and rarely involves more than getting some kind of vehicle through a hoop.
- Great online sharing options
- Cheery visuals
- Good Move controls on the PlayStation 3
- Anticlimactic gameplay
- Can't control your vehicles
- Rough dual analog controls
- Unhelpful camera
EA Create is a variation on the mousetrap game. It’s less a tool to use your imagination and more a series of two-dimensional challenges that ask you to figure out what props you need to get from one end of the map to another. It’s a perfectly simple idea and one that has some puzzle-solving draw.
However, it’s the same kind of experience you could play in a web browser for a few minutes before getting on with the rest of your day. EA Bright Light has given their game a deluxe treatment with online challenges, creation sharing, and a big selection of single player puzzles, but the experience never feels like anything more than a distraction to me.
My Hoops, Let Me Jump You Through Them
EA Create has 14 different themed levels, each with 10 challenges. The layout of each level remains the same but each challenge will ask you to do something different. This means arranging a limited number of objects around the level to affect some toy vehicles path from point A to point B.
In the beginning areas these challenges are as simple as placing a wooden ramp just before a gap so that a toy car will be able to make it to the other side. Later levels become significantly more complicated with winding layouts, optional point multipliers, and hazards in the least convenient places.
As you complete challenges you’ll earn Sparks, the game’s currency that unlocks new items. In addition to the puzzle solving you’ll be asked to decorate your environments using a decent selection of cartoonish objects like ferris wheels, bunches of flowers, and a motley collection of texture patterns. Decorating a certain number of areas in each level unlocks more Sparks but they never actually factor into the puzzles.
Create also has a nicely integrated online mode that you can access from any point in the game. You’ll be able to upload your own unique challenges, download other peoples, upload screenshots, rate other people’s creations, and participate in weekly challenges.
This entails making puzzles according to a few basic instructions from EA and letting the community decide whose is the best. While the moment-to-moment gameplay doesn’t usually excite, EA Bright Light hasn’t skimped on features or content. The bigger issue is that the content rarely rises above the level of novelty.
Have It Your Own Way, Done Just How We Say
Through all of this you’ll work as an indirect controller. You’ll prepare for each challenge by moving a big blue cursor around screen. Hitting the Triangle button brings up a radial menu that you’ll use to navigate through all of the different kinds of objects and decorations. The left analog stick controls the camera, but it only scrolls in two dimensions, which can be frustrating when you want to get a deeper sense of scale. The right analog stick moves the actual cursor.
The decision to split the cursor from camera control is strange and it makes the most basic commands needlessly complicated. I often found myself moving the camera around to get a better look at a challenge and would consequently lose the cursor off-screen with no indication of where it might be.
Nothing frustrates more than finding a place in a level to start setting objects and having no idea where the cursor is. This isn’t an issue when using the Move controller, which is the best way to use the interface in Create, but players without one may well spend their first several hours of play unduly struggling.
But even with ideal controls, the lasting issue with Create is its limited concept. The gameplay is limited entirely to 2D planning. You don’t have direct control over any of your vehicles and instead are limited to watching them careen through the structures you’ve built. There’s an experimental nature to this that keeps gratification--already delayed by the indirect nature of the gameplay--even farther away. I never felt like I knew well enough how a car would take a certain ramp or how far a rocket would push a skateboard. There’s some enjoyment to be had in the unexpected results, but it makes many later challenges feel like fumbles into the unknowable.
A Trap Only a Mouse Could Love
There are some wonderful ideas in EA Create. Offering a puzzle creation tool to a community of players, hosting weekly challenges, and giving some flexible options for personalizing the look of their levels is great. It’s a full-featured game without gratifying gameplay to take advantage of that fact. It’s an attempt to make entertainment from placing blocky objects around a 2D plane. There are a fine number of puzzle challenges built with this paltry idea, but they very quickly come to feel flat and over-similar.
There were only so many times I could send a balloon or motorcycle careening through a hoop before I started to looking out the window to wonder what else I could be doing. EA Create, then, is the best 2D hoop-jumping simulator ever made...for whatever that’s worth.