Little Big Awesome!
Where to begin? First of all I was not part of the LBP Beta so I really had only videos shape my idea of the game until I at last bought it the Saturday before its official Tuesday release. I have played through basically all of the single player campaign (just missing to get all the goodies) and have mucked around in the online portion now that the servers are on. Let me tell you that this game is phenomenal. I also tried the creator mode and got some stuff (nothing special yet) done. I think I will review this game in 3 seperate parts so that whether you are interested in just the story mode, the creator mode or the online mode you can jsut read that part.
Single-player story modeThe single-player story mode (if it can be called single-player), is completely amazing. I was rather taken aback by the intro movie when the story of little big planet was laid out, I had always taken this to be a purely creative experiment so the idea of a story within the game took me by surprise. The story is pretty simple, on the simpleness of a Mario story, beasically everything that humans imagine winds up on little big planet and there are seven creators which oversee it. You get to visit the seven creators which all have pretty specific problems and help them while they give you goodies. What completely blew me away in this mode was, well everything basically, I did not buy this game for this mode and I did not take into consideration but it is an incredible piece of the game. Each level has a completely different look and style and is situated in a place on the world map, you start in Europe, go to Africa, South America, Mexico, Eastern USA, Asia, India, and Russia/Siberia every single area has a uniqque look and localized music. I am a Mexican and I was compeltely taken aback by the beauty and detail of the latin american levels, they took lots of pieces of my culture and reproduced in a very imaginative way, ahving played American or Japanese themed games all my life this was very special to me personally and made me feel completely satisfied with the game.
If you expect the story mode to be "easy" I can assure you its not, gaining all the goodies and completing some levels, is hard (especially if you want to complete all levels without losing a life for the gold trophy). If I could compare in terms of both length and difficulty in a 2D platformer I would say Super Mario World is an apt comparison. Fully completing Super Mario World would take around the same time as fully completing LBP's Story Mode. In Story Mode you can see how many players are in each level before you join and you can choose to play online or offline. You can join other sackpeople on their adventures and it is in fact encouraged, as every single level has a 2 player zone, and some have 4 player zones. Popping in or out of a game locally is as easy as just turning on the controller.
Creator Mode is a blast, although not every tool is available at the beginning and you need to complete some tutorials to have all of the creation options open. I think this was a very smart move on the part of media molecule as it allowed them to showcase their powerful creation mode and have the player experiment with all the possibilities that he or she might make, this takes a couple of hours and I would recommend playing this first (once you unlock it), as it gives you a few pointers and stickers that may help you in story mode or online mode. The creator mode is very deep and has a lot of things that can be modified, you also gain goodies in Story Mode that you can take into Creator Mode and place in your creations to have lots of variety in your own levels without having to apinstakingly create every single object.
This mode is not for everyone, although creating a level is pretty simple in order to create something unique or outstanding you will invest a lot of time. Perhaps this will change when the online multiplayer creator mode is allowed. You are able to take in your own in game photos and use them on your creations and if you have a Playstation Eye you can take pictures of yourself or friends in real life and put them in. For all the niceties that are packed in the creator mode, I want to see it expanded as I would like to be able to manipulate certain features or would some more be added (for example there are no power-ups in the game), also I find that creature creation or enemies, tend to be on the clunky side and I would like to create something slim, fast moving and lizardlike, or an evil sackboy.
I currently did not see any option for putting any music or sounds other than the ones that are in-game, which I think should be addressed as well (although there is a large variety of in-game sounds and you can put in in-game music).
This part is really truly amazing and it completely blew my mind how awesome and complete it is. It is extremely easy to find levels about anything (and there are levels about ANYTHING!) and even easier to find good levels depending on your mood to just jump in and play. The online multiplayer is completely unparalled in anything I have seen in the PS3. It is perfect. You are constantly getting updates of all the games that your friends are playing, when they get trophies you are notified, when they get a high score you are notified as well, you are also able to jump into their pods and games (provided they have not passed a "no more players allowed in" point). All of these notifications are done in a completely non-intrusive manner. You can easily see your friends' stats and levels at any time, as well as your own from your planet. Whenever you are playing a game with people and someone leaves you are given the option of following him/her to continue playing together, also whenever anyone wants to join, if you are the host you get a deny/allow button. Protection against offensive material seems pretty high up in Media Molecule's list as you get constantly reminded in a funny way not to post or say anything offensive (this a family oreinted game after all), in fact the select button in your control is used to report offensive material.
Ultimately it is this mode where this game's strength lies, and it is does not dissapoint, it meets and exceeds all expectations thanks to its thriving community. I have already played some batman themed levels and God of War themed ones, they are all imaginative and unique, you will never run out of things to do in this mode.
Platforming and Controls
I almost forgot to talk about how the game plays. It is very fun and easy to pick up, x is for jumping and holding it down gives you a longer jump. Holding R1 allows you to grab things and operate switches and machines. That's basically the end of controls. Its a good platformer although I think the physics is a little iffy when jumping on springs and on rolling platforms. Since only two buttons are needed to paly the game rest of the controls take on a different role, in the creator they are all important, but in normal gameplay they get pretty fun uses. The d-pad puts some emotions into your sackboy, and the L2 and the R2 buttons allow you to maipulate the arms making you dance or point. A high point in gameplay today was when I was playing online with a stranger and he stopped advancing in the level, he started doing a text chat but isntead closed it, put on a sad face, grabbed me by the arm, dragged my sackboy and pointed with his arm up to a prize which I did not see and required two people to reached, I helped him reach it and got the prize too. Also you may pop-up your pop-it menu at any time with the square button, which allows you place stickers or objects anywhere at all times. The Sixaxis controls are not forced on the player, which is great, in my opinion six-axis controls were put in very late into the ps3 development as sort of a very weak wiimote emulation, however it can truly shine when it is used as an extra gimmick that LBP fully exploits. Your sixaxis controller moves your sackboy's head and upper torso making you do far much more funnier and expressive movemnts, if press L3 the sixaxis moves your sackboy's hips making him dance around, which is totally rad. I still haven't figured out how to smack around other sackpeople as shown in the promotional videos.
Now if you shall excuse me I will give my numerical scores:
In conclusion, if you have a ps3 buy this game, it is game of the year material, has infinite potential through user created levels, a thriving fan base, awesome online support, and is in all honesty quite a lot of fun!