VG review: Little Big Planet
“LITTLE BIG PLANET”
Sony, for PlayStation 3, rated E for Everyone (comic mischief, cartoon violence), $59.99.
Few games knock down the wall between developer and player as effectively as “Little Big Planet,” Sony’s big-ticket PlayStation 3 title for the holiday season, does.
Sure, lots of other games have offered the chance to manipulate and create your own virtual environment, but I’ve never seen it done as skillfully as it is here. This is one of the most creative and downright attractive video games I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing.
At its heart, “Little Big Planet” is a platformer akin to “Super Mario Bros.” and all the other little games that involve hopping around on objects and jumping on the heads of bad guys.
Here, you play as an adorable cloth doll known as Sackboy. Sackboy (or girl if you prefer) can run, jump and grab certain items but that’s about it. You don’t gain any special abilities as the game progresses.
What you do get is a vibrant, photorealistic world made out of cardboard, cloth, string, switches and just about any other material you can find in real life. More than any game I’ve played before, “Planet” has an almost tactile feel to it, as though I could reach out and touch the objects displayed on my screen.
Beyond the look and feel, though, the levels are inspired in their high degree of creativity and challenge. Many times I’d come across a puzzle or objective that would astonish me in its clever design and frustrate me (in a good way) with its difficulty.
The main story section is regrettably short, though there’s a lot of replayability through the collection of hidden clothes, stickers and other objects.
That’s OK though, because the upside is that you can use those objects to create your own levels in the “My Moon” area. Using a suite of PhotoShoplike tools you can make a level that’s hindered only by your imagination.
The tools system is easy and intuitive to manipulate, although the amount of material you have at your disposal is a bit overwhelming, and developing a level that people want to play will take some time and effort on your part.
The good news is you can get other people to try out your levels via the Internet. Unfortunately, Sony’s servers were down just about the entire time I was playing the game, but if they come up soon, I can see this being a big part of the game, with fans uploading, sharing and grading their favorite player-created content.
My only quibble with the game is that Sackboy doesn’t move around as easily as he’s supposed to. Getting from the foreground to the background (and vice versa) can take repeated tries, and the character doesn’t exactly stop on a dime, which can be treacherous when you’re maneuvering across some high, narrow platforms.
Just about every aspect of “Little Big Planet” is pitch-perfect, from the infectious music to the mulitplayer sections to the tutorials narrated by actor Stephen Fry. It’s a joyous, infectious world that I hope to spend lots of time exploring in the near future.
Copyright The Patriot-News, 2008
Labels: PlayStation 3