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Review: LittleBigPlanet

Susan Arendt | 4 Nov 2008 13:00
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A less enjoyable way that LBP mirrors other examples of the platforming genre is its ability to inspire controller-hurling levels of frustration. Part of that stems from the game's wonderfully complex level design, but unfortunately a great deal of it comes from jump controls that sometimes feel mushy and unresponsive, and an emphasis on plane-shifting that doesn't always quite work. Though LBP is 2d, Sackboy can move in and out of the screen, which should happen automatically when he jumps. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. In most situations, it's a minor issue, but in those rare instances when you're trying to time something perfectly, only to run afoul of the game's different planes, it can be maddening.

Occasional brushes with aggravation aside, playing through LittleBigPlanet is the perfect warm-up for using the game's editor to make some of your very own levels. As an artistic medium, LittleBigPlanet's editor is rather a lot like modeling clay. It's so easy to use that everybody can make something, but those with true talent and patience will be able to craft something truly extraordinary. Everything in the game was created using the same tools and assets at your disposal, though you'll have to find a bunch of them within the actual game before you can use them. Knowing that you have the resources to create something as marvelous as LittleBigPlanet's Mexican Wedding themed world is inspirational; even if, like me, you have the artistic ability of a thumbtack, you'll soon be itching to dig through your bag of tricks and see what kind of level you can pull out.

In fact, there are so many design options - different materials, paints, stickers, sound effects, machines, bolts, and objects - that you may find yourself staring helplessly at the screen, unable to pick a starting point for your masterpiece. Give yourself a break - start with one of the templates provided, then fill it with ready-made art and objects. Once you're used to shuffling them around, you'll begin to understand what works and what doesn't, and can start a new file from scratch. When you've got a level to be proud of, upload it to the PlayStation Network, so that other Sackboys can take a run through it, then try some of the levels fashioned by other members of the PSN community.

It's easy to point to the things that make LittleBigPlanet special, like its stellar level design, the cuter-than-clumsy-puppies Sackboy, or the easy-to-use level creator, but what's more difficult to explain is how playing the game brightens your day. Even at its most frustrating, LittleBigPlanet is like a doubleshot of sunshine, a dose of condensed happiness injected right into your soul. Yes, it's just a 2d platformer, but it's also just what you need.

Bottom Line: You'll be hooked by the time the opening credits are finished. Seriously.

Recommendation: The level editor or the game alone would make LittleBigPlanet worth having, but the two combined? Easiest decision ever.

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