Hands On With LittleBigPlanet Karting; Yes, It’s Kinda Awesome
LittleBigPlanet Karting promises to have a wide variety of things to do. There will be a story mode, in which players progress through the various worlds in a series of standard races (or so the demo seemed to suggest). In addition, There will be treasure hunts, wavepoint matches, and several variations on Battle mode. In our demo, we saw 2 standard races and one battle mode level. Battling was a bit is a bit tricky, due again to the steering issue, but it was fun, and while we didn’t see enough to make a full judgement, it looks like a stand out when the final game drops.
The LittleBigPlanet World
The most promising thing about LittleBigPlanet Karting is that they’ve taken great pains to make this more than simply a branded racer. Players aren’t just competing in a LittleBigPlanet themed arena, they are actually playing a racing version of LittleBigPlanet. This was demonstrated first and foremost by the aforementioned levels. Two of them were based on classic levels from the series, like the Garden Grip, based on the first level of the original LittleBigPlanet. Also on hand was a level called Future Perfect, a LittleBigPlanet version of the 1930s-50s vision of the future in Craft World form. It looks precisely like the City Of The Future we grew used to in science fiction and futurist writings of mid 20th century, with highways, big blue buildings and numerous other nice touches.
What’s especially nice is that in addition to being basically perfect recreations of the spirit of the original craftworld, they’re in full 3D. That actually surprised me, because the LBP series depends on the 2.5D perspective, and I assumed a move to 3D would compromise that. On the contrary, it only demonstrated tantalizing possibilities for the future of the series. I spent my time playing the game wishing for the next proper LBP platformer to be fully 3D. And guess what: this isn’t a pipe dream. LittleBigPlanet Karting will supposedly have level editor that is every bit the equal of the level creator in the previous games and surpasses it in many ways.
The final game will, so Ho claimed, give players access to the same level editor the developers used. Players won’t be able to create original assets, but they will be able to use tons and tons of modules down to very small levels. And not only will they be able to create original tracks, so we were told, they’ll also be able to edit existing tracks down to the AI level. This means tweaking them slightly, adding new power ups and weapons, inserting secret passage ways and adjusting the difficulty of practically every thing in the track. This is in addition to the return of sackboy customization (including one with a bacon beard. Yes, bacon.) and, as seen in the demo, full kart customization, like the creation of a scotch tape racer, or a flower pot racer. Alas, customization options weren’t available at this demo, but I was told they might be on hand at E3, in which case we’ll have much more to report.
One thing I did see is that the Pod has returned, slightly changed. Just like in the other LBP games, players can hang out there, kick it with friends and select from various game modes using the Poppit which functions exactly as it does in the other games. Here, however, the Pod has been changed so that it looks like a giant cardboard spaceship, a nice touch and fitting for a racing gam.
Of course, here is where I reveal my hipster shame: my favorite thing about the two proper LBP games is their amazing soundtracks, a mixture of lovely original music and licensed tracks by artists like Go! Team and Jim noir. Obviously, the true LBP experience depends on continuing that tradition, so I asked everyone I could. While the devs on hand with whom I spoke repeatedly answered my questions with ‘We can’t really comment on anything we haven’t shown here today’, I was told by one of them, when I asked if Little Big Planet Karting would continue the series’ mindblowing soundtracks, that ‘players can expect more of what they love, including the music’.
The Final Word
LittleBigPlanet Karting is far from complete. At the demo, the first public showing of the game, only three levels were available and as I said, zero customization aspects were shown. Further, the music being piped in on the loudspeakers prevented us from hearing the music already inserted into the game (though listening closely, it did sound LittleBigPlanety). And of course, the racing needs a lot of work, particularly the steering. But what I saw has tremendous promise, and all signs indicate that they’ve delivered what looks like a perfect combination of Modnation Racers and LBP, but one that will ultimately give fans of LBP the experience they expect at all times.
We’ll know more when it finally launches but for now, it’s looking like a hell of a great time. I know I at least had one.