It's not uncommon for a console to have their own mascots. From Nintendo's Mario to Master Chief on the Xbox, most consoles have had that one iconic character that represents their colours. And now with the PlayStation 3, it looks like they have a new mascot taking over in the form of Sackboy, the main star of the show in LittleBigPlanet. We were lucky enough to get some hands on time with the upcoming title, and it was certainly evident that Sackboy is a leading contender for Sony's mascot vacancy.
LittleBigPlanet puts a heavy emphasis on community and creating your own levels, and it delivers those features in spades. The process of creation is incredibly simple, but with quite a bit of substance. You start off with nothing but a blank world with a flat, texture-less ground, and from there on you add everything through PopIt. PopIt is the mini menu that opens upon hitting the square button, and gives you access to everything required for level design and customising your character's appearance. From there you can add new terrain, different textures, trigger effects and several other things through simply scrolling through the pages with the shoulder buttons and pressing X on whatever you like. It was incredibly efficient given it's with a dualshock, and had us designing our own worlds within minutes of picking up the controller.
The depth of the design doesn't end there however, as you have three different 'planes' to design on. LittleBigPlanet is 2.5D, which is a term given to games that are 3D, but are played on a 2D perspective. Through pressing up or down, your player model shifts between the first, second and third planes in the level. This is significant in designing levels as well, as for example, you could place a platform on the second plane, and the next one on the third, so in order to get across you'd have to shift between the two planes. Though a little confusing at first, you quickly become accustomed to the concept, and the game becomes much deeper as a result.
A good level is not instant however, and this is where LittleBigPlanet succeeds in allowing you to 'test' your levels with ease. Upon designing a level, you can pause and un-pause physics operations to see if physics puzzles are functional, and you can even jump into the world and run through it in order to test its playability. Developer Media Molecule have clearly thought out the designing aspect well, and have kept the game clear of any frustrating moments through easy fixes.
Once you're done with your levels, you can save the level and submit it online onto the Sony servers, which is then available to the public for download. From here the community can rate your level on its quality, and if it's really good, it's featured for the whole world to see. You can also download other levels made from anyone around the world, and all of it is stored on your PS3 (and compressed into very small files), so you can have several of your favourite levels ready to play.
Charm also goes a long way in making a game great, and LittleBigPlanet delivers this in its visuals beautifully. Though not as rich in effects or high-detail as something like Killzone 2, LittleBigPlanet makes up for this through its designs alone. Sackboy himself is an adorable and charming character, and certainly one that will likely stay in the minds of gamers for some time. The levels are gorgeous too, with a very over-the-top emphasis on everything, giving it a whacky, but lovable tone. It all feels pleasant, and it compliments the light hearted nature of the game perfectly.
Though it's been a long wait, LittleBigPlanet is just under two months away, and it seems to be shaping up to be everything it has promised to be and more. With such vast customisability and a great deal of polish in gameplay, there's much to look forward to. If you're into design, the game is a must buy. Even if you just want to play, there's over 40 single player levels waiting for you in the retail package, and then there's the online community cooking more levels to fiddle with. With the potential for so much content and an adorable player character, LittleBigPlanet is shaping up to be a winner.