LittleBigPlanet Karting

Score

Sections

Pros

  • Lovable LittleBigPlanet style, great create and community features, a different take on Karting

Cons

  • Racing too chaotic, structure not ideal for multiplayer

Key Features

  • Review Price: £37.99

Available on PlayStation 3

A bit over two years ago, Sony

released a little game called ModNation Racers on PS3 and PSP. The

unofficial spin on it was that it was LittleBigPlanet does Mario Kart,

mixing the user-generated content and community features of the former

with the high-speed, knockabout racing action of the latter. Developed

by United Front, It was an okay game, but it never caught the

imagination or made the sales of its inspirations, and this year’s Vita

version wasn’t a system seller, either. Perhaps that’s why, instead of a

sequel, we now get a game from United Front that makes explicit what

used to be implicit. LittleBigPlanet is LittleBigPlanet does Mario Kart –

and it’s close to being as brilliant as that sounds.

This is a

LittleBigPlanet game, with everything you might expect. It stars Sony’s

new favourite mascot, Sackboy. It has the classic handcrafted felt,

sponge and cardboard aesthetic, the quirky humour, and the ever-lovable

Stephen Fry voiceover. You can collect costumes, decorations and now

Kart parts or kits, and use them to customise both Sackboy and his

vehicle to your heart’s content. What’s more, you can create your own

tracks in a ridiculously simple editor, test them, play them, and share

them with the community at large. Basically, every feature you would

want in a LittleBigPlanet Karting game is there.

LittleBigPlanet Karting 4

And while the

gameplay sticks pretty close to the classic Mario Kart formula, LBP

Karting actually has its own LittleBig twists to add. Some courses

feature spongy rollers you can grapple onto and swing from in classic

Sackboy style, sometimes to reach hidden routes, sometimes to bypass

massive gaps. There’s a full-scale story mode taking in several planets,

complete with improbable scenarios, bonkers characters and crazy

cut-scenes. You can play this single-player, or with up to three friends

in a split-screen mode, and the game allows drop-in, drop-out

multiplayer.

LittleBigPlanet Karting 5

The weapons are all recognisable from Mario Kart or

WipEout, but entertaining for all that, with some nice examples like an

invincible boxing glove or rocket that you can ride on while smashing

through the competition. What’s more, LBP Karting mixes things up in the

campaign with other scenarios, that find you battling other racers in a

variation on Mario Kart’s old battle mode, fighting over a monster’s

egg with your grappling hook, or destroying a gargantuan caterpillar in a

weird, shoot-em-up action sequence. Too many Mario Kart clones think

that if you take the core Mario Kart gameplay, substitute your own

characters and scenery and keep things simple, you can still make a

great game. This is one mistake LBP Karting hasn’t made.

Meanwhile,

the create and community features are as good as you’d expect in a

LittleBigPlanet game. You literally roll out the track with a paint

roller using the standard driving controls, using the right-stick to

change the angle of elevation or descent. Adding scenery and obstacles

is a bit of a chore, but changing the landscape is easy, and it really

doesn’t take much time to get a race-able result. Your courses can be

saved or shared, and we’re already seeing a mass of cool user-generated

tracks that show what can be done, though we suspect the direct Mario

Kart homages might not survive for too long. All the features you’d

expect to recommend tracks are there, along with hotlists for developer

and community favourites.

LittleBigPlanet Karting 6

LBP Karting is rich in customisation

options, with a huge range of Kart parts and styles to try out, plus

just as many costumes, hairstyles and options for Sackboy. A future DLC

pack will allow you to import costumes from existing LBP games, which

should please those who’ve coughed up for specific packs. The size or

style of your vehicle doesn’t actually seem to make a huge amount of

difference in terms of speed or handling, but at least your ride gets

your own personal touch.