Little Big Planet Karting
Game play - 6
Presentation - 8
Story / Creativity - 9
Lifespan - 8
Ultimately Little Big Planet Karting feels like a rush job to something that could have had incredible potential. It is unknown if the developer was simply out for revenge for their lack of success with Modnation and allowing Little Big Planet’s turn to suffer for it. What is known though is that if you are able to get past the incredibly short single player outing and focus on the really fun multiplayer then you will have one hell of a time.
Little Big Planet has continued to be a valuable asset to Sony’s portfolio of stellar franchises. Not only has Sackboy’s world of creativity and family fun fuelled a new way in platform games but it has allowed everyone who has played to unleash their inner child and revel in some laid back fun. With Little Big Planet Karting now coming into the mix, is this spin-off a jump in the right direction?
When a video game series that appeals to all ages gets to a certain point in their fame, they usually end up being graced with a karting game. Not only have these games at times raised their mascots to great heights but sometimes, just sometimes it has also destroyed them.
In a way it was inevitable that Media Molecule’s stuffed doll boy would end up with a racing game of his own and as the developer passed on the creative torch to Modnation’s United Front Games, they obviously have a rather large set of boots to fill. United Front are best known for their first racing outing Modnation Racers, which sadly under performed to many people’s expectations. This time though the developer got to take another shot at the kart racing genre and in a way it was a double edged sword.
Little Big Planet Karting once again sees our chirpy little Sackboy attempting to save the world from a greedy and corrupt threat that would like nothing more than to keep all our creativity for themselves. This time though Sackboy isn’t alone in his “race” to save the creatasphere as he now has his trusty motorised, cardboard box steed racing car.
What follows is a charming, but rather short adventure through what feels like a set number of tutorial events towards the obvious never ending end game that allows users to create what they like. The story mode for what it is has a huge amount of potential but after having the first hub world teasing us with some creative racing; things begin to get very skimpy on content after.
In a way it feels like United Front rushed its campaign as not only do future hubs sometimes consist of less than three levels but most of them are filled with multiplayer variants that cannot be played properly without the addition of other human players. In a way the story mode ends up feelings like a small box of planetary filler.
That isn’t to say that all is bad though because as I mentioned the game’s main campaign consists of some rather charming game design, this is expected for a Little Big Planet game after all. That goes with the visual quality of the game’s aesthetics too. Just like previous entries everything looks like it might have been made from different bits and bobs of random objects, as if it was crafted in a 3D world, by a 3D individual.
All that smile inducing atmosphere is also buffed by the always welcome British narration of the chirpy gentlemen ‘Stephen Fry’ who as always brings a balanced set of gags and one liners that sometimes hit the mark of borderline random. What is this dog in an envelope incident about Mr Fry?
The core gameplay of LBPK follows a solid framework of standard karting mechanics that have always entertained us for many years. Players race around quirky tracks, while trying to blow each other up with even quirkier weapons of mass destruction like fireworks, rocket propelled boxing gloves, bolts of lightning and more. The tracks themselves are made up of two different types of events, which switch between standard racing and battle arenas.
The standard levels given to you at the start are fun to play as just like every Little Big Planet before it, it shows you just what you are capable of making if you put your mind to it. Sadly United Front haven’t learnt from their AI’s behaviour like in Modnation and you are going to find that your computer controlled opponents are incredibly cheap and play dirty when it comes to racing. Not only are they rather easy going on each other but at times it feels like the AI’s only goal is to take you down. Don’t be surprised to get spammed with dozens of the same weapon type when heading into first place. What is also annoying is that United Front chose to drop their incredibly tactical boost or defend mechanic for simply sacrificing your held weapon to defend you from one incoming weapon. This obviously becomes frustrating after exhausting that one item only to be bum rushed by twelve other weapons right after.
This is where the multiplayer portion of the game comes in because as I mentioned all the levels can be played against other players in an unlocked versus version of the previously played single player track. Little Big Planet Karting strives incredibly on the fact that real life players will always be better than bots and you can have some great fun with friends and family through split screen and online play.
The final bulk of the game is obviously its creation mode, which allows you to build and publish your very own unique tracks and mini games for players around the world to play in with or without other people. The creation system works pretty well here but suffers from United Front once again not allowing Little Big Planet from benefitting from what made its original racing title work so well. Not only can the 3D interface feel a little frustrating but also the painful amount of tutorial videos that you have to go through to understand anything feels like United Front made LBPK’s main reason for existence as just a mere after thought.
Media Molecule’s creativity may not be here this time but it is definitely down to you the player to carry on their torch in creating the impossible this time around.
Little Big Planet Karting is available on Playstation 3 in stores and on the PSN Store right now!
For more information, click here.