LittleBigPlanet Story Mode Impressions


The star of LittleBigPlanet is the level creator and the community aspects surrounding that. But ignoring that for a moment, how good is the core platforming gameplay?

Pros

  • Playground Feel: The game looks charming and adorable, but what’s really shocking is that the game is more charming and adorable to play than it is to look at. The whole game feels like you are playing with blocks and toys on a playground. The use of physics and materials takes simple simple play mechanics, like swinging over a pit or riding an elevator, which is really old-hat stuff in traditional platformers, and makes them surprisingly fun to play.
  • Physics: The gameplay has as much in common with those playground-style Flash-based physics games as it does with a traditional platformer. One really nice aspect of the physics is the material system. There is a wide variety of cloths, woods, metals, glass, plastics, etc and they generally look and behave like you would expect.
  • Vehicles: The vehicles in this game look horribly crude next to the ton of racers and modern platformers on the market, yet I honestly have more fun racing the DIY-style rockets or mine carts in this game than I do with a polished HD racer like Wipeout (I still love that too).
  • Level Design: Even beyond the cleverness of the overall design aside, the core levels are extremely inventive, funny, and dazzling to play through.
  • Co-Op: The co-op works extremely well. The character customization, emotion control, and gesture control really work well in combination.
  • Fleshed Out: A lot of new-concept type games just tease the player with the possible potential rather than deliver a fully realized experience. With LBP, that isn’t the case at all. Right out of the box, this game is very well fleshed out. Beyond the core concepts of simple platforming and create mode, this game has a variety of well-executed, fun to play, and create-mode-extendable mechanics.
  • Collecting: I really don’t care about collecting artificial points, but collecting custom stickers, and costumes, and create-mode objects and materials is very rewarding and fun to do.
  • Passes the Kid Test: Most kids have terrible taste in games. They would rather play utter ad-ware style garbage on the Disney Channel website rather than anything that even warrants being listed on Metacritic. That being said, I was impressed by how well this passes the kid test. My step daughter does not normally like playing traditional games and she loved this one. She also shocked me by telling me all these ideas she was dreaming up for a level. She is not that kind of kid to sit indoors and play video games, much less work on a level, but the fact that this got into her imagination that much is astonishing.

Cons

  • Short: Obviously, the user-levels will extend the lifespan of this quite a bit. But I wish there was more high quality professional story content that shipped with this game as well.
  • Nothing: It’s just that good. It’s definitely not for everyone. Maybe the simple playground style physics based platforming won’t gel with everyone. Even for me, it took a while before it really won me over. I expected the creation mode to be impressive, but I wasn’t expecting the core game to be so much fun.
  • Will it last: Right now, I’d hestitantly pick this as game of the year. But will it last? Will I still love this game six months later? Will we still be seeing new, exciting content coming from the user community? Realistically, the enthusiast and jouranalistic community tend to focus on games before launch and give them peak attention at launch, and then forget about everything a month later. I’m personally optimistic, but this is my biggest skepticism. I hope that by the time I can finish a cool level (and I really don’t have the time to invest that I would like), that people are still playing this game.

Written by: Darrin - Contributing Editor


  1. #1 by mpz on November 10th, 2008

    The only real con i’d have is that a couple of the parts are a bit too tricky – and the recover point usually only has 3 lives in it. But I guess it gives it a bit more urgency/competitive feel to it as well – sort of half-way between old-school impossible-hard and modern hand-holding – so it isn’t the end of the world. The 3 planes thing works pretty well most of the time too, surprisingly – the auto-plane-jump thing gets in the way when you’re trying to grab something to push it though. The fact you have to replay levels to get all the bits, and also the 2-player puzzles I think is a nice way to extend the `value’.

    The physics stuff is really pretty amazing – well nothing so flash about the physics itself, but the way the player interacts with it is the secret. Unlike some, I don’t really think it’s too floaty/slippery, it’s just physics based which makes it different. e.g. I was playing with various weird forms of impulse-based propulsion and had a bunch of glass rollers about shin-high. If i stood in the middle of a few of them that were packed together, sackboy’d stand on 2 at once, his legs would spread as they roll apart, and then he would jump to the ground when it’s too far for his legs. I thought it was impressive anyway – very tactile for a platform game.

    I would be very surprised if they don’t create extra level packs – although given the $AU8.45 ‘first week t-shirt’ nonsense, who knows how much they’ll cost!

    I presume someone’ll do another post about user-levels, because there’s plenty to say there too.


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