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December 8, 2012
LittleBigPlanet Karting - PS3 Review
Release Distributer Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
8/11/2012SonySonyUnited Front Games12-12
Media HDD Install Resolution Move Controls Tilt Controls OFLC Rating

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LBP Karting is a decent looking racing game.
One of the biggest success stories of this generation has been Media Molecule's LittleBigPlanet franchise. The two games on PS3 have amassed sales of over 8 million units to date and have seen PSP and PSVita versions release as well. Now, however the franchise is taking on a new genre, kart racing, with United Front Games (whose previous credits include the very similar ModNation Racers) handing development on LittleBigPlanet Karting. Despite the different developer from the platform games, this is instantly recognisable as a LBP title with Sackboy (or Sackgirl), the Pod, Level Creation, Popit and the visuals all a match from Media Molecule's efforts.

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Sackboy is about to cop a missile up his... well... kart.
As you can imagine there's not much by way of a storyline in this game - what's there is pretty superficial and we actually did something we almost never do - look to skip the cut-scenes to get to the racing. Developed by United Front Games this karting title seemed to be in good hands with that developer previously responsible for the entertaining Modnation Racers - despite the levels of annoyance with that title. Fortunately the loading times in LBP Karting are much reduced from UFG's previous title which is nice to see.

In terms of the actual on-track racing the karts all handle exactly as expected with the ability to pick up weapons, bubbles, power-ups and Collectable items. The weapons and power-ups are used to give you an advantage in the race while the bubbles add to your overall score (which are placed on worldwide leaderboards), and Collectables which may include items, or textures, to apply to your created levels (more on them soon). Of course it's also possible to power slide around corners, and doing this without crashing gives you a speed boost while Sackboy also has the option to use a grapping hook to help him swing over large gaps. The campaign mode sees you going through a variety of themed locations, and as well as single races, can be played online or offline.

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Customising, both the kart and Sackboy.
There are certainly some annoyance with this game that knocks it off the pinnacle of kart racing games. First of all, only being able to carry one weapon is a hindrance to the game. Do you use it to take out some enemies, or get a speed boost, or do you keep your single weapon as a defensive item to block incoming missiles. It really does take a lot of the strategy out of the game - if you're at the back of the pack use the weapon, if you're at the front, and even if you get mines, use it as a shield. I know it would be retreading on another Karting games footsteps, but why not be able to hold three weapons.

Moving on and some of the weapons you get are, well, downright silly. Missiles and mines are fine, but when you turn into a giant boxing glove to power your way through the racetrack the computer often takes control, but when the power up ends, often puts you right in front of an object meaning you blow up! Argh! So many times.

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Sackboy can use a grapple to hang onto objects.
Perhaps the biggest saving grace for this title is the ability to create and share levels through a pretty extensive level creation tool. Laying out a track is as easy as moving the analogue sticks, and then you could spend hours decorating the levels with objects, creating the backgrounds, placing objects for the racers to pick up and use and, well, pretty much everything else that you see in the levels from the main campaign mode.

When you've created your level you can then tag it with various keywords, give it a name, upload it and race it online with other gamers. Just in Media Molecule's platforming games this is a fantastic inclusion and even downloading and playing other user generated levels could keep you entertained for days, if not weeks and it's possible to rate levels with some selections from the developers picked highlighted as well.

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There's no denying Sackboy remains cute!
As you can see from the surrounding screenshots the visuals in LittleBigPlanet Karting very much tie into the universe created by Media Molecule. Sackboy is as cute as ever, and the karts move, jump and slide around the tracks exactly as one would hope, or expect, from a game such as this. As with the platforming titles cut-scenes are fairly static affairs - don't expect any extravagant Metal Gear Solid epic pre-rendered movies here - but they serve their purpose in moving you from one location to another.

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LBP Karting gets into the combat arena.
As with the visuals, if you've played one of Media Molecule's LittleBigPlanet games then you will know the kind of audio experience with upbeat music, cute sound effects, adequate speech, but most impressively the delightful Steven Fry returns yet again providing, often very amusing, narration for the game including the Tutorial levels.

LittleBigPlanet Karting is a bit of a mixed bag. As a purely kart racing experience it's fun, but not without flaws. But the strength of this game is in the level creation - if you love creating levels (in this case kart racing tracks), or indeed love playing user-generated content then this game is for you. If you're after the best kart racing experience you might be better off elsewhere (although this game certainly isn't unplayable or without entertainment).

Review By: Dave Warner

GRAPHICSMost importantly the frame rate is solid, and the game looks like LBP all the way..
SOUNDPlenty of karting effects, some upbeat music, great dialogue, not least of which being Steven Fry's narration.
GAMEPLAYIt's kart racing, it's functional, but not the best game out there.
VALUEThe Level Editor so you can create, and download race traks adds significant value, if that doesn't interest you the value is diminished.
OVERALLIf you want the best kart racing experience you may want to go elsewhere, but if you want to create and share (and download) levels then this is the game for you.

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