Wednesday July 26th 2017

Little Big Planet

Little Big PlanetI initially purchased Little Big Planet about a year ago when I first got my PS3. In fact, Little Big Planet was the game that sealed the deal in my decision to purchase a PS3. This is a great game that is enjoyable by people of all ages and all gaming skill levels. I am not a “die-hard” gamer, yet the cute graphics and fun levels keep my interest in this game.

Plot and Story

Little Big Planet is full of whimsical fun. Unlike some of your more serious video games you aren’t playing this game for the plot, in fact I had to search online to even figure out the plot. Apparently, there is a “collector” collecting the level bosses who you have to find and beat. Whatever the plot is really doesn’t make a big deal in the game play. Like many games of this genre you pick a level on your map, get transported there and run through killing little beasties, collecting new costumes, stickers and other treasures.

Your character is a “sackboy.” You start out as a little cloth dude that looks like something someone’s grandma knit. As you go through the levels you collect different costumes that you can mix and match to dress your character up. While the costumes don’t give you any additional skills they are a lot of fun and it can be a real hoot when playing with friends to try and dress in the most outrageous costume. It is also fun, when playing with friends to plaster “stickers” on your friends and change their appearance.

Graphics/Soundtrack

The graphics in this game are excellent. The game is an animated game so nothing is realistic – it is not meant to be. The colors are all very crisp and the lines are clear. Most of the time the graphics move smoothly but sometimes when playing online the graphics can get choppy – this is likely more the fault of the network than the graphics however.

The soundtrack for the game is a blast. It is very upbeat and catchy. I have found myself humming the tunes days after playing the game. The music is a good match to the levels and each continent you enter on the map has a particular theme. Between the music and graphics you can get a clear picture of where in the games geography you are located.

Controls/Gameplay

Little Big Planet falls into the realm of “2.5D” side scrollers. In other words you are always running on the screen from left to right or right to left, like an old school Mario Brothers Game. However there is some depth as the characters can walk in front of and behind objects on the screen. This is implemented fairly well in Little Big Planet, but I have certainly had instances where it is not clear if the object is in front or back and I have accidentally walked off a ledge or gotten stuck behind an object as a result.

The controls are very intuitive and typical of a Playstation 3 game. Anyone who has played another game on the Playstation will pick up the controls right away, and even someone new to gaming will get it fairly quick.

In addition to running and jumping, grabbing is a very common move in the game. Very often you will find yourself having to jump across the screen on some swinging ropes, or grab onto a cloth spinner and hold on while it spins you to the other side. Sometimes you also have to grab cloth boxes and stack them so you can jump across an obstacle. This may sound difficult, but in actuality the game is pretty forgiving and grabbing is quite easy.

Audience

This is a game for everyone. The cartoony graphics, silly characters and fun music will entertain young kids for hours. The puzzles and crazy realms your character encounters will also entertain the adults for hours. Skills-wise this game is quite easy, people who do not regularly play video games will quickly be able to learn to play without frustration.

I have found the best way to play the game is in a group. Whether it be multi-player in the same room or over the network with either friends or strangers the additional chaos factor is a blast. The game is also entertaining enough that other folks will enjoy watching even if they are not playing. This is a great party game.

Multi-player/Online Play

The best part of this game is the multi-player feature. The game can be play with one to four players. The players can either be physically present playing with you or you can play online with friends or meet strangers on the network.

Playing over the network has its good and bad features. I have found that most other players in the community are respectful of other people and it is not like some games where you have a bunch of teenagers shouting obscenities. The game doesn’t seem to attract that kind of player. Most people on the network do not have headsets – and even if they do it is hit or miss if they work. Some people do have keyboards and communicate by typing messages. Other people have figured out how to point and gesture with their characters and communicate this way. Overall it can be a bit confusing playing with strangers on the network because communication is difficult.

There are many sections in the game which require two players to enter an area and sometimes even three or four players. In these areas one player will have to stand on a switch while the door opens for the other player to pass through.

While this game can certainly be played single player it is not nearly as much fun. You miss out on many of the two player only areas and the levels are relatively short if you are just running through alone. This game is best experienced when playing with a group.

Level Creator

Little Big Planet has a tool for players to create their own levels and share them in the online community. I have seen other games try and do this, but Little Big Planet seems to have gotten it right. The tools are easy to work with using the Playstation controller and everything is fairly intuitive. You basically take objects from your inventory and place them on the screen. Many of the objects have actions and you can easily set them to go faster/slower, to the right/left, etc with your controller. There are more than enough objects and sticker/designs available for you to make a completely unique level.

After you’ve played through all the regular levels on Little Big Planet it can be fun to explore user created levels. Like any online community the user created content can be a bit hit or miss. A lot of the user created levels are poorly designed and have no coherent story. But every now and then you can stumble across a real gem. Usually you can tell in advance by the ratings of the levels.

Conclusion

Little Big Planet is a 5 star game. It manages to not only include great features but to do them all well. It has it all – online community, single or multi-player, easy to use controls, great graphics, excellent soundtrack, and a fun story. The game is both appropriate for children and enjoyable for adults. It is also a great party game and can be appreciated both by the players and by the spectators.

Also posted to Epinions.

And coming Winter 2010:

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