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October 1 2008
LittleBigPlanet - PS3 Preview
Release Date Distributer Publisher Developer
7/11/2008SonySonyMedia Molecule
Offline Players Online players Price Anticipation
1-42-4$109.95

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LittleBigPlanet is a stunning looking title.
Unveiled by Phil Harrison at the Game Developers Conference in March 2007 LittleBigPlanet has become an icon for the Playstation 3; a poster child for this generation; a shining light for the game community; and why shouldn't it. A quick glance at the surrounding screenshots may have you believing that this a 2D side-scrolling platform game. A tiny fraction of that statement is true. You see, LittleBigPlanet is a side-scrolling platform game in part, but it puts user generated content front and center. You design the levels, you play them. If you don't want to design them, it is possibly to download other people levels, and you play them instead.

As you can imagine the potential is enormous, and the opportunities only limited by your mind. One only needs to look at Sony's recent E3 press conference when sales figures and stats were presented in a level created in LittleBigPlanet (and built in a single day we might add!). It was remarkable.

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Sackboys and Sackgirls rock!
Developed in the UK by Media Molecule, which is comprised of several ex-Lionhead members and those who worked on Rag Doll Kung Fu on the PC LittleBigPlanet is a new PS3 community-based game which looks set to break new ground for content sharing online. The LittleBigPlanet experience starts with players learning about their character's powers to interact physically with the environment. There are obstacles to explore, bits and pieces to collect and puzzles to solve requiring a combination of brains and collaborative teamwork. As players begin to explore, their creative skills will grow and they will be ready to start creating and modifying their surroundings the first step to sharing them with the whole community.

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The range of options is superb.
Of course every good game needs a character, and in LittleBigPlanet the main character is Sackboy. The great thing is, you can make Sackboy look like anything. Change his colour, his costume and his style. You can even decide how he behaves and, if you want, you can choose to have a Sackgirl instead. Controlling Sackboy is pretty straight forward. The left analogue stick is for movement, X button to jump and R1 to hang onto objects. It can get a bit more complex then that if you wish as you can use the Dual Shock 3/Sixaxis' tilt sensing to move Sackboy's head, or hold down L2/R2 and move the analogue sticks to move his arms around while the D-Pad is used to change his emotions between happy, angry, sad or nervous.

The game starts out with some wonderful tutorial levels narrated by British comedian Stephen Fry. Indeed, upon commencing the game you will notice that most items and functions are locked, and become unlocked as you play through the game, thereby providing a smooth learning curve so as to not overwhelm you. The Blu-Ray disc contains 50 levels to play through and you may be surprised to learn that all these levels have been created in the games own level creator. As you play through the levels you can collect 'fluff' which is essentially the games currency. In multi-player levels the player that collects the most 'fluff' through the levels is deemed the winner. 'Fluff' can be used to purchase new items in the game - essential to creating your own glorious levels.

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Sackboy drives a tank...
After playing through the levels you may want to move onto creation. That's right, you can build your own levels, with your own puzzles and then share them with the community. The levels each have 3 depth levels are available; background, middle and foreground. Creating the levels is as simple as placing objects within the game world, testing it and then playing it. This is a creative experience and there are no deep gaming or coding skills required to do this. It's drag and drop. You can of course change the look of the levels, the placement of objects, their size and set triggers. You can even build enemies and give them a 'brain'. Players can make their world as open or as secretive to explore as they like. Impressive items you create can be free for everyone to use or 'copyrighted' so that other players can't copy it (or you could make it available once a task has been achieved such as completing your level!).

When creating the levels you will even be able to use the Playstation Eye to take photographs of objects, and then import the textures into the game as backgrounds or textures. You can even use the camera to map your own face to Sackboy!

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Yes, LittleBigPlanet is quite colourful.
Surprisingly this game isn't just a single player experience. Media Molecule have gone all out to include support for up to 4-players on a single console so you can work together to build a level even quicker, or assist each other in getting through the levels. While it apparently won't make it onto the retail disc, Media Molecule are working on a patch to be released after launch which will even allow 4-player to build levels online!

Naturally, with such an online-focused title we expect the game to have all bases covered. Obviously you can upload your levels, and download other ones, but the community will include player comments, rankings and communication between friends. Finally we can also confirm that LittleBigPlanet will include support for Trophies. There is a leaked list out on the web already, but it is spoiler filled so we suggest not tracking it down.

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Building a level near the sea.
One question that remains in this game is that of unacceptable content. We have seen the massive number of problems Electronic Arts is having with Spore and the 'sexual' monsters being created (as well as the terrible DRM issues which is now the basis of a class-action lawsuit), however we are hopeful that Sony have any issues here resolved. Certainly the user generated content in SingStar is pretty clean. Media Molecule have put in a reporting system so that if you see something inappropriate you can pause a level, zoom in, and flag an object as pornographic, copyright and so on.

LittleBigPlanet is exactly what the PS3, and perhaps the entire games industry, needs. Original content, and not necessarily just a straight forward game, that will bring together the online community with the ability to create, play and share content as never seen before. With only a month until the game hits the shelves it really does look fantastic, and those fortunate enough to be in the Beta trial have only been praising the title. LittleBigPlanet will hit Australian retailers on November 7th 2008 (following a 2 week delay due to potentially offensive content in oe of the songs), with all other territories expected within a few days of that as well. Prepare your creative juices folks.