The score at the bottom? You know, the one you’ve already skipped to – the 10? It doesn’t say ‘perfect’, because no game is perfect, it says ‘unmissable’. LittleBigPlanet, the dreamchild of a few British guys with a remarkable vision and a desire to right everything that’s currently wrong with console gaming, is now finally on European shelves and there’s no better adjective for such a crowning achievement: LittleBigPlanet is unmissable. Microsoft, Nintendo, come in, your time is up.
We first spoke with Alex, Mark and Dave over at Media Molecule back in August 2007, and since then have kept a very keen eye on the game as it has progressed from quirky platform to the epoch-defining genre-spanning system seller it now is. Indeed, our LittleBigPlanet tagged stories alone span 9 pages, probably more than any other game since we started the website. It’s true that LittleBigPlanet and MediaMolecule have been the centre of attention for over a year now, but it’s all justified, and now that the final game is in our hands we can even forgive the false starts and delays.
For the unfamiliar, and those unlucky enough to have missed out on the Beta, LittleBigPlanet is essentially a platformer, albeit one with a number of unique features. Firstly, it’s in pseudo-3D, or at least there’s 3 planes that your character can hop between at will whilst traversing the massive levels spanning 8 different worlds. Secondly, Sackboy, your character, can be customised almost beyond recognition by applying any of the items you pick up whilst exploring the levels, and this is done via the ‘pop-it’, a little window that pops up when called and allows access to any of the items, stickers and costume parts you collect. Thirdly, and most importantly, the very same pop-it is then used to create your own levels.
Yes, the game ships with a large wad of brilliant, brilliant pre-made levels, but the genius that is LittleBigPlanet is all about the ‘Create’ mode, a fully integrated level designer that not only allows you to build levels of the same quality as the ones on the disk, but also go far beyond them. Starting out with the most basic of building blocks (and watching hysterical tutorial videos voiced by Stephen Fry) you’ll soon unlock mechanical parts, machinery, materials and even AI elements that can all be twisted and manipulated into essentially anything you want. Your imagination literally is the only limit, well, that and free time, because creating levels can take considerable time.
Once created, you’re free to share your inspired contraptions and designs with the rest of the World, who can view, play and rate your levels as you climb the social ladder of LittleBigPlanet. Rewards can be placed in your efforts as a reward for completion, alongside timed sections and high score tables, and all this is managed per level as you navigate the available entries from the safety of your cardboard Pod, which acts as a customisable main menu. Multiplayer is fully supported throughout, and although you’re limited to just local players when creating, there are no such restrictions when playing levels, indeed some sections actually require more than one player to get the most out of them.
Visually LittleBigPlanet is a breath of fresh air. The rich, hand-crafted look fits the game perfectly (think Yoshi’s Story but in HD) with crystal-clear texture work and subtle motion blur and depth of field effects and regardless of the size of your level or the amount of things moving at once the framerate holds a perfect 30 – highly impressive. And sure, whilst the music has created a few headlines recently, the soundtrack is outstanding and the various effects, from scraping metal to crackling fire, suit the game perfectly. All the music found in the main game can be used in create mode, and whilst we’d have loved to be able to upload our own music we can understand the copyright issues that could potentially arise.
There’s little else to say, which is odd given that this is the most important PS3 title ever released. It’s probably because we’ve spoken so much about the game recently that most of our readers will be more than familiar with it, and an equal number already have the game themselves. We’ve been holding off a review because it’s one of those games that don’t really need it: LittleBigPlanet will sell itself – the quality TV adverts and the recent word-of-mouth press are only really there to bring home the fact that the game is now sat on the shelves of every single retailer in Europe.
A stunning, powerfully confident title that deserves all the praise it’s ever been awarded, the Media Molecule guys should be so pleased with what they’ve managed to accomplish and just as much good feeling goes the way of Sony for putting so much faith in the game and getting behind it 100%. If this doesn’t bring about PS3 shortages we don’t know what else will, LittleBigPlanet is probably the best videogame this generation, and until next year’s heavy weights like Killzone 2 come around, we can’t see our attention drifting anywhere else. There’s so much to see and do in LittleBigPlanet that the community levels alone would be worth the entrance fee, just imagine the treats you and I will be playing and creating months down the line.
Get this game, today, now.