Giant Bomb Review

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LittleBigPlanet Review

5
  • PS3

Sifting through user-created LittleBigPlanet levels and seeing the wonderful and weird things that people are making is a great way to spend an afternoon, a week, a month...


When Giant Skateboards Attack!
LittleBigPlanet is one part floaty platformer, two parts charm, and several thousand parts game-and-level creation tool. By allowing users to create and share the levels they've built, and by providing an intuitive front-end that allows players to quickly find the coolest levels, LittleBigPlanet excels whether you fancy yourself a bedroom game designer or if you just want to play the coolest things that others have built.


So it almost goes without saying that you'll only get the most out of this game if your PlayStation 3 is online. That's not to say that the single-player components are terrible, but they're really just designed to get you thinking about the sorts of levels that you might like to make. You'll also unlock tons of parts and materials for building said levels as you burn through the game's official levels.

The actual gameplay in LittleBigPlanet is, for the most part, basic platforming. But the game turns the concept inside-out, and the core mechanics of the gameplay aren't as important as you might expect. The new core of the experience becomes digging around and finding the levels that people have been creating, or talking over level design ideas with friends. It's the shared experiences that come from LittleBigPlanet that make it so special. And these things can be so incredible that any issues with the way Sackboy jumps become mostly irrelevant.

But to discuss what, exactly, happens in LBP, yes, you can run and you can jump. You can also grab onto things, which is used most often for dragging things around the level or grabbing onto hanging sponges and using them to swing across fiery pits. The movement, especially in the air, is really floaty. You don't have a lot of air control and the game never feels very precise. You won't mistake Sackboy's movements for an old Super Mario game, for example. This sort of imprecision is fine once you get used to it, but it also places a bit of limit on the level design aspect of the game. Expecting precise jumps out of players seems to always result in heartbreak, sadness, and burned-up Sackboys.


You can play with up to four players in a level at once. My experiences with the multiplayer were mostly negative, with a lot of slowdown and lag as the network tried to keep up with the players' movements. In a game with an already tenuous grasp on timing and precision, throwing in a bunch of random network congestion quickly makes the game unplayable.

OK, so the gameplay and control is a little weird for my tastes, and the levels that ship with the game aren't all that fun. Why, exactly, do I care so much about LittleBigPlanet? It's all in the level editor. Or, more specifically, what people are doing with that level editor. There's a wide variety of wild levels and concepts coming from players all around the world. There's a real Wild West feel to the created levels right now, and I'm not talking about cowboys. It feels like a frontier--like people are just going out and creating anything they can. Large numbers of levels are based on other properties, resulting in neat levels based on upcoming games like Mirror's Edge, or other favorites like Metal Gear Solid. Seeing other game worlds interpreted through the tools of LittleBigPlanet is pretty awesome, and usually pretty cute, too.

If you'd like, you could even create your own "death garden."
Of course, it's not all about boosting inspiration from some other property, and it seems like Sony or Media Molecule have started to crack down on some of the more egregious examples, like levels that re-create levels from Super Mario Bros. or a "PS3 vs. 360" level that was filled with big Xbox 360s. It's sort of a shame that the content has to be filtered at all, but I guess I understand why some of that stuff has to come down.

The level editor has already proven to be way more versatile than it initially seems. Players are creating the standard sort of obstacle courses that you'd expect, but they're also creating elaborate contraptions, like a working Pez dispenser or a functional calculator. Others are creating music levels that play crummy-but-endearing MIDI versions of songs while you stand on a button that drives a vehicle past all the notes. And a LittleBigGenius in Japan has managed to manipulate the levels in such a way as to create a horizontal-scrolling shooter--specifically, it's the first level of Gradius. Obviously, the control isn't as tight and fun as the original Gradius, but each one of these levels feel totally amazing, and searching through other users' levels becomes a wondrous act of discovery... though you'll certainly find some real stinkers in the mix, as well.

Of course, you can also create your own levels. The game is smart in that it forces a ton of tutorials on you before you are set loose into the editor for yourself. Building a basic running-and-jumping level is quite easy, and using things like motor bolts and the like to creating spinning objects or functional tires isn't much tougher. Even hooking up contraptions and devices to various switches so that you can control them is a lot easier than it initially sounds. The catch is that getting things just right will take a lot of time. I think most people will be able to pick up the basics very quickly, but it's going to take mountains of patience to create the masterpiece that's bouncing around in your head.

That's probably why it's so cool that you can easily seek out the game's best levels. There's a robust user-rating system in place, and a "cool levels" section seems to be pretty good about highlighting the best stuff. You can also add any level or person to your "hearted" list to easily find them in the future. Once you get to any single person's section, you can see the levels and people that they've hearted. So you could easily spend hours just digging deeper and deeper, bouncing from person to person, playing the levels they've created or liked. It gives the game a social networking feel.

And that's the "thing" about LittleBigPlanet. When you break it down to its component parts, there are a lot of little bits and pieces that aren't as cool as they probably could have been. I wish the platforming bits were tighter. I wish the servers weren't effectively broken for the first week or so of the game's release. I wish the online worked better. But when I'm just sort of digging around, uncovering the things that people have created and shared, all of that stuff becomes very easy to forget. When it's at its best, LittleBigPlanet offers excitement and the thrill of discovery in ways that no other console game ever has. Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
93 Comments
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Posted by PabloDiablo

5-stars. as expected.

Posted by piecat

Great review for a great game. Nice work, Jeff

Posted by MasterSplinter

Surprised much? Nope. Not at all. Good job Jeff. Video review soon?

Posted by PsYuSoFly

=)

Posted by Stevokenevo

its like facebook, but without the stalking... and more colourful.

Posted by RHCPfan24

YEAH.

Posted by redgauss

A 5? After the way you talked about the servers in the bombcast?

Posted by BurningChimaera

Good review, Jeff. Any news on the copyright thing? 

Posted by ReTarDedFisHy

Words cannot describe the amount of awesome in LittleBigPlanet.
Great review as always, Jeff!

Posted by TheGamerFix

Nice review Jeff!!  I got it today and it's awesome! 

Edited by TwoOneFive

Dude, this game is second place of all time list on Metacritic, right behind that hugely debatable GTA4...GOTY anyone?

now if only you could get that resistance 2 review out...
Posted by TheWorstPlayerEver

great review. I was actually expecting less because of the whole server issue that they have been having but when it does work, it is awesome

Posted by addictedtopinescent

Nice, good review Jeff

Posted by Kohe321

Awesome review.

Edited by grainger

amazing review and an amazing Sounding game... can't wait to play it and see for myself.

Posted by BawlZINmotion
"You can play with up to four players in a level at once. My experiences with the multiplayer were mostly negative, with a lot of slowdown and lag as the network tried to keep up with the players' movements. In a game with an already tenuous grasp on timing and precision, throwing in a bunch of random network congestion quickly makes the game unplayable."

This is my only negative with LBP, I'm glad someone else has acknowledged it. Good review Jeff.
Posted by Pibo47

Game looks and plays great, to bad its not my thing. GOTY? No, but one of the great's of all time? Thats for sure.

Posted by Snipes424

Nice review Jeff, thanks.

Btw, if you guys want to check out a cool musical level.  Check out "Mad World."  It took me about 8 hours to create.  So I hope you guys enjoy it.

Best way to find it is to go to cool levels -> Search -> Press Square and then type in my PSN (Snipes424)  Look for moonlight sonata, Classical music V2, or Mad World.  All three are mine.
Posted by Death_Burnout

My favourite part about LBP = Stephen Fry, damn straight!

Posted by rerty

3/4 of the game sucks but its still great?

Posted by MachoFantastico

Not surprised, this game is very special! Loving every minute of it!

Posted by dQuarters

Somewhere out there is a PS3 sitting on a shelf, teasing me endlessly to pick it up JUST for this game.

Posted by Media_Master

Not surprised!

Posted by mg66368

Awesome review Jeff as always, Little Big Planet is my pick for game of the year.

Posted by punkxblaze

MEXICAN SACKBOY.

I mean, awesome review.

Posted by ferrarimanf355

PS3 purchase justified, finally.

Posted by Driadon

It looks really really fun. Hopefully the severs smooth themselves out by the time I get a PS3...

Posted by John1912

I really dont see the appeal in this game.  Makes me think of Spore, in that I basically paid for an editing tool set, with a mini game thrown in.  Least LBP lets you create a game I guess.  Anyway enjoy the score for those of have been waiting for the game!

Posted by JoelTGM

great review.

Posted by PLWolf

Awesome Review, Jeff. The game is awesome, can't wait to go home and play some more.

Posted by dtran1212

I AGREE 100%

Posted by Erdie

It sounds great, but I'm busy with Resistance 2 and other stuff.  I wasn't sold at first, and am still not 100% there, but I'm starting to understand it.  Slowly but surely...  I'll probably pick it up soon.

Posted by Erdie

It sounds great, but I'm busy with Resistance 2 and other stuff.  I wasn't sold at first, and am still not 100% there, but I'm starting to understand it.  Slowly but surely...  I'll probably pick it up soon.

Posted by chililili

Kickass game and review Jeff

Posted by Lepuke

This is going to be first PS3 game I have bought since the day MGS 4 came out.
Sony desperately needs more games of this quality.

Posted by Dimitris

nice review jeff. i agree with a 5 because it is probably the best ps3 game out there.

Posted by Thejugglingbum

giggled like a school girl playing this game. Then again most of my creations are rocket powered pulsating penises. : )

Posted by Classic_Gs

The servers are busted an don't work and yet the game gets a 5? The game is completely broken and everyone is "overlooking' that fact. Sony's online is joke and even after a beta for their biggest release of the year and they still can't get the crap to work. Not a fan Sony, not a fan.

Posted by F1

I only played the beta, but I know from that alone that it doesn't deserve anything less than 5 stars!
I got my actual copy today! I'm excited to play!

Posted by waza

the first game i have ever pre-ordered in my entire life, in the first minute of playtime i knew right away why i pre-ordered

Posted by radion_null

Good review..   Am I the only one that actually likes the floaty platforming in this game?  Also, I thought hhe soundtrack was kick@$$. 

Posted by ScottEFresh

I just keep finding myself playing this game (even with Dead space, Bioshock and Fallout3 laying around).

Posted by Bulldog19892

That's crazy. I remember Jeff saying that he didn't like it all that much.

Posted by Vinchenzo

Just rented this game recently. Definitely fun to the people who give it a chance, and a necessary asset to the creative minds out there. The first day I was playing it (yesterday) it was "meh." Now, today, I've been playing it a couple hours more. It's addictive to get everything, fun to hang out with even random people in an online game [since nobody uses a headset], and interesting to play created levels. But most of all, it's a game I have been able to relax with. The music is amazing and the game is so light-hearted and colorful that you can't help but be able to relax.

Posted by am_dragon

Oddly I've not had a problem online, at least while the servers where up.  That first Monday it was online, my son and I played about an hour of custom levels online with 2 other people.  We had a great time, sometimes bad level design can make for some pretty funny gameplay.  We even played the PS4 vs. 360 level without a problem.

My wife and sons enjoy this game a great deal so it gets high marks as a family game too.
Posted by PsychoAnalytic01

Nice Review...i wish this website could have more video reviews. I really like video reviews. So Mr Gertsmann if you read this plzz it would be swell if you could do a video review of this game. BTW ..(I know its old stuff but its in my personal video collection because it is hilarious)..i really liked your video when you were at your old job and you were interviewing Alex Navarro on Def Jam vendetta and at the end Brad Shoemaker came and took Alex's Belt. really funny stuff.

Posted by Frumpa

 Just wanted to point out the awesomeness that is Stephen Fry as narrator.If you love brit comedy I seriously recommend you look up his work (has a great podcast too) - Oldies may remember him as General Melchet in "Blackadder series 4" with Rowan Atcinson.

Posted by MagusMaleficus

I've had the same problem trying to play levels with others: a shitload of lag and slowdown. I play pretty much every level on my own now.

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