We always get a little bit giddy when a game comes along that aims to be different. Since it was announced, LittleBigPlanet has continually picked up steam, and if PlayStation Day was any indication, it seems as if the game featuring the soon to be iconic character of Sack-boy is leading the charge when it comes to a gaming future with an emphasis on community and creativity. We got to go hands-on with the title last week, and we're pleased to report that the game is every bit as exciting and entertaining as we had hoped.
For those not in the know (which we hope is a minority), LittleBigPlanet is being made by a team of only 25 people at Media Molecule and is all about how you can creatively approach a problem solving situation. The game features platforming and puzzle elements, but to look at it as a mere 'genre game' would be a grave mistake. You'll not only be able to experience these levels, but create your own, and effectively, build from scratch an entire gameplay experience that's unique to you. Not only this, but you'll then have the ability to share these creations online with friends and other members of the LBP community, effectively meaning that there will be an infinite number of possibilities to explore within the game.
The game absolutely oozes with a cute yet completely stylish world, filled with all sorts of little nuances like the beanbags or the numerous simplistic hanging shapes and obstacles that block your path. Customisation is the key here, and people who take the time to really explore what the game has to offer will find a lot to like. Sack-boy can wear a number of different outfits and patterns; in fact, there are so many options to truly identify your character as your character that it's actually a little ridiculous. We spent a lot of time just toying with the different combinations with a big child-like grin on our faces as we saw Sack-boy react to the different outfits we were suiting him in. The characters are extremely emotive, and the game is so fun to experience that we wouldn't be surprised if a number of folk just sit in the menu playing around with their created characters facial expressions, and smacking around their friend's versions just for pure silly pleasure.
What makes LittleBigPlanet such an enjoyable experience is that not only will the solo players be able to spend hours upon hours fiendishly creating whatever they please, but the multiplayer game here is going to be simply joyful to play through. Helping each other through each course is a must; there will be boulders in the way that you'll need to work together as a team to push, among other things. It prevents the game from being as linear as its initial premise may indicate, and easily the most fun we had with LBP was when playing side-by-side with somebody else accomplishing the same creatively-inspired goal. 'Mucking around' is seriously under-rated in games nowadays, and the ability to just be foolish and literally play around with a variety of different unique elements is cool to say the least.
Given that there are already numerous options in the build we played, we were happy to hear that there is much more on the way. The developers are constantly coming up with new ideas and creations of their own that they are putting into the game even at this stage so that us players can get the absolute most of the experience. In fact, we'll have all the tools available to us to create levels that rival the developers' in terms of entertainment value, and the idea of sharing your own designs with an entire community certainly should invigorate the would-be designers in all of us as we experiment and play this wonderfully devised sandbox environment. The attention to detail in the game including the impressive physics engine and other very effective animations is great to see, meaning that the game is a visual feast as well as being a canvas for creativity.
With 50 initial levels available in the final game combined with the possibly infinite amount of content that will be downloadable and playable once the community gets involved, and you're looking at a game that is going to last you a long time. Not only will it keep you busy, but it's the kind of game where experimentation is really the key, and there are features that, especially in a multiplayer environment, will keep the masses very entertained just in its most simple intricacies. While many eyes will be cast towards the usual racers and shooters that come out on the PlayStation 3 later this year, we're thinking that LittleBigPlanet is the one to beat for 2008, with a uniqueness and charm that is impossible not to love.