GamingReview of Little Big Planet Karting from United Front...

Review of Little Big Planet Karting from United Front Games

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Arguably the flagship of the PS3, and definitely a worthy reason to own one, Little Big Planet is a great franchise. The entire ethos of Little Big Planet is play, create, share. The original LBP gave huge amounts of freedom to the player to the point where I wondered what the point of LBP2 was. But then I went on LBP2 and found infinite possibilities and polish to make Mr Miyagi proud. A quick look on the LBP2 community page shows what clever and/or creative players are capable of given Media Molecules powerful engine. So onto Little Big Planet Karting.

PLAY

The tutorial is a little long-winded and unnecessary but I assume this is to make the game friendly to its wide target audience and its all-encompassing age range. It’s not particularly pretty, but it gets the job done and lets you have a bit of a practice before the real game begins.

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Weapons can be picked up by driving over them on the track and can be used to boost you through the race, attack rivals or defend yourself against the attacks of your foes. Unfortunately this doesn’t really work out very well. If you’ve used your item and have nothing equipped you will be repeatedly attacked and therefore re-spawned and therefore eventually lose.

The two items that propel you around the track quickly are very useful. Apart from when they slam you into an insta-death obstacle or a wall that ensures you wasted your time, if not setting you back from before you used the item. Combined with the constant sucker punches this can lead to a very frustrating experience at times.

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The track design is actually very good and the LBP style can be seen all over the track as well as the cut scenes that resemble those from other LBP titles. There isn’t anything jaw dropping but it looks solid and the driving mechanics are good.

CREATE

When you first enter create mode you are given a brief and informative video narrated, of course, by the great Stephen Fry. It’s enough to get started and means you don’t spend a couple of hours before starting to create. The other tutorials are available for you to view whenever you’re ready to move onto the more advanced stuff. Its easy and satisfying to lay out your track and by default the game adds everything you need to get it working, although you can change anything you wish at your will.

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You can then work on beautification and adding off-road shortcuts or perils for you mini-racers to avoid. But that’s the end of it. Ultimately the options available to a player on LBP2 just can’t be in LBP Karting because, well, it’s a Karting game. After choosing the layout and appearance of your track and placing a few prize bubbles, weapons, jumps and perils your done. By definition it cannot have the same level of creation as its Media Molecule predecessors.

SHARE

The community page works the same as on previous LBP titles and allows you to use tags as filters, type in a text search, play a Developers “Pick” or just hit quick play. With the amount of levels available it’s impossible to play them all and therefore impossible to vouch for them all but the selection I played were very good.

What I missed was the surprise I could have on the LBP and LBP2 community section as you never quite new what was coming but you did know it had the potential to be anything at all. LBP Karting is just a case of finding what style of track you’re about to play and then playing it. There’s only so excited you can be when you are told what is coming in the title of the game.

customization

Technically speaking the sharing works fine and there is a good community on LBP Karting just as there is in the core LBP games. It’s easy to find levels and get in there and start playing them. LBP has always relied on its community to support it and LBP Karting does not disappoint in this respect.

VISUALS

The graphics look nice and adhere to the very stylized look we have become accustomed to in Little Big Planet games. Level design is smooth and the customizations on the carts and Sackboy are slick. The effects on the weapons are probably the best thing to look at, the rocket trails in particular are surprisingly cool. There’s nothing particularly new, but it looks good, works well and is exactly what we have come to expect from LBP.

SOUND

Run of the mill background music and inevitably repetitive kart sounds don’t make LBP Karting an exciting choice for your sound system. It has again stuck with the style though and has some distinctively LBP sound effects at work.

CONCLUSION

It’s very difficult not to compare Little Big Planet Karting with Little Big Planet. I’m abundantly aware that it’s not even in the same genre, but it is going to garner interest from the same audience of gamers. It seems like a strange franchise to skin a karting game with and at first one would assume this has been done to piggy back of Little Big Planet’s success.

Maybe United Front Games aren’t good enough to make a Karting game without using an already established title. Maybe Media Molecule needed help to raise awareness of the Little Big Planet titles. Yeah maybe not then. United Front Games are or course in actuality behind the much-loved ModNation Racers which is an entirely more competent karting game than LBP Karting and if you own a PS3 and haven’t owned or at least been on Little Big Planet you’re an anomaly. I’m not sure what niche audience this game is aimed at or if it even exists.

Although frustrating at times Little Big Planet Karting isn’t entirely awful. It’s a cross-over that has left me confused and a little bit less proud of the PS3’s Little Big Planet exclusive. If you want a karting game get ModNation Racers, if you want a Little Big Planet game get Little Big Planet 2, you won’t regret either of them.

The game therefore remains dazed and confused, unsure of its direction in limbo, along with its score.

Little Big Planet Karting is available now only on the Playstation 3.

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phillvine
phillvine
Phill has been the director of a small IT repair business since 2011 which he runs alongside studying for his degree in Information and Communication Technologies at the Open University. Video games are his real passion and they take up more of his time than he'd like to admit.

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