I didn’t expect to be sucked in by Little Big Planet. I had pre-ordered it, cancelled the pre-order, and then pre-ordered it again because I figured that any serious game writer needed to try it. I am so very glad that I did. LBP is more than a platformer, creation sim, kids’ game or adult game. It is all of that, and so very much more.
The game opens up awesome and doesn’t let go. LBP starts with a series of gorgeous tutorials narrated by Stephen Fry. Fry’s voice and distinctly British sense of humor immediately set LBP up to be a game for all ages. Jokes range from “no, not that kind of a seal – don’t give it a fish!” to jibes about how your stickering style is “very Andy Warhol”. This quickly blew away any concept I had of LBP being a kiddie game.
The levels are lush and amazing. Zoom and and look at your sack person and marvel at the detail. I chose the blue yarn hair to start, and when I zoomed in I actually gasped to discover finely and perfectly rendered strings of tinsel woven into her yarn hair. That sort of detail is the hallmark of this game. LBP is all about texture. Each surface, character, sticker, and object has incredible weight and depth. You can look at these things and easily imagine how they would feel to touch. More than that, you’ll want to touch them, and find yourself slightly disappointed when you remember that you can’t.
The gameplay is solid. Developer Media Molecule incorporates the SIXAXIS controls in a way that makes them fun, but not necessary. You can use the motion controls to make your sack person emote, wave, dance, etc. Fun, but not make-or-break functions by any means.
The actual play controls consist of a traditional jump and run setup. LBP is at its core a 2D platformer, and it carries on the 2D platforming tradition of not being frackin’ easy. Media Molecule programmed a deep physics engine into LBP. This means that rocks are heavy, see-saws teeter and totter appropriately, and most of all, you are a light little sack of cloth. This means that your jumps are floaty, and until you get used to that you will have a tough time getting through some of the premade levels.
Those of you who could give a tinker’s cuss about the platforming and just want to create will have to hold up a moment. LBP requires you to play through at least the initial planet before it will let you out into the real world. This is a good thing, though, as the Fry tutorials are both a treat and terribly useful. Additionally, the premade levels are packed with design content from stickers to objects for your personal pod, so it’s worth a playthrough for anyone who wants every possible tool at their disposal.
Online play is everything Sony said it would be. You can dive into other people’s world and marvel at their ingenuity or scoff at their ineptitude. User-created prizes and goodies make collection quests a gaming delight for the first time in years.
I know it’s a big month for games. LBP, Fallout 3, and Fable 2 all within days of each other. But please, don’t miss this one. You will regret it if you do.
For being the most charming game ever, and for being so much to so many gamers, I am pleased to give Little Big Planet 5 Weiners out of 5.