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December 20, 2008
LittleBigPlanet - PS3 Review
Release Distributor Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
7/11/2008SonySonyMedia Molecule1-41-4
Media HDD Space Resolution Sound Format Tilt Controls OFLC Rating
Disc4MB720pDD5.1YesG

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LittleBigPlanet is a visually stunning title.
Unveiled in March 2007 LittleBigPlanet has grown from a small title with a big idea, to become a big title with monster expectation for the Playstation 3 at Christmas 2008. Indeed it has become a title which could potentially shift consoles (and in Australia is one of the games which people purchasing a PS3 can get for free), and the main character, Sackboy, has become the new mascot for Sony's system. Developed by a small company called Media Molecule LittleBigPlanet has potential written all over it.

At first glance LittleBigPlanet appears to be a side scrolling platformer - but it is so much more. Besides the included levels this game 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 play them instead.

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Sackboys and Sackgirls are customisable!
PLAY:
Every good game needs a character to fall in love with, 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.

Sackboy, or Sackgirl if you so choose, can run around the levels jumping over objects, pulling levers, holding onto objects, moving objects, defeating enemies, plastering stickers all over the world, collecting items or driving vehicles. Initially the physics seem a little 'floaty' but soon enough you'll be moving your character around with much skill and ease. The LittleBigPlanet disc includes around 35 levels to complete, with each of these levels containing unlockable content which can be used to unlock more content within these levels. Confused? What I mean is that as you play through levels you will find items and stickers. By sticking these stickers on correct points throughout the levels you unlock more content - and this often means you'll be replaying earlier levels.

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Changing your outfit.
Surprisingly this game isn't just a single player experience. Media Molecule have gone all out to include support for up to 4-players to assist each other in getting through the levels. Indeed there are some areas in the game which can only be accessed when playing with multiple players. Unfortunately while it didn't make it onto the retail disc there will be a patch released in future which will allow 4-players to build levels together online! Speaking of which, let's look at the creation aspect of LittleBigPlanet...

CREATE:
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. Each level has three depth levels; 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 although we admit that if you try to simply jump in and create something without planning the results probably won't be too great.

Creating the levels is pretty much drag and drop. You select the object you want to put in the level, resize it, rotate it, select the material (wood, ice, brick) and then place it. You can then set trigger points, place music and effects, and even build enemies from your discovered objects (objects are found within the included levels) and then give them a 'brain'. 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!).

Sadly at this stage Media Molecule haven't included the promised functionality which will allow gamers to use the Playstation Eye to take photographs of objects, and then import the textures into the game as backgrounds or textures. This is promised in an upcoming patch.

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Sackboy drives a tank built in-game.
SHARE:
Sharing comes in two forms - content that you have created being shared with the thousands of gamers around the world, or being able to download and play levels which other gamers have created. Now we're on an 8Mbps Cable internet connection here which is fast, but not blindingly fast but downloading a level to play was only taking a matter of a few seconds so even those on slow connections shouldn't have a problem here. User-generated levels vary from pretty rubbish, to levels as good as those in the main game. Fortunately you can rate these levels so everyone knows how good or bad they are. It is also possible to tag (or 'heart' as they call it) levels or other players so you can keep tabs on your favourites. All-in-all this content sharing is brilliantly implemented and pretty much as seamless as the main game in terms of loading and gameplay.

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Yes, LittleBigPlanet is quite colourful.
When you look at problems with this game there really are so few. The 'floaty' nature of Sackboy becomes normal after a few minutes play and the three planes of depth don't offer more then the occasional hiccup in your travels. The other issue at the moment has been the censoring of content being uploaded to the internet. Sony and Media Molecule have been removing levels deemed inappropriate without justification or notice as to why. Gamers are then losing all their work (a simple solution is to have a backup/copy on your PS3 before uploading). While we could understand this if there was infringement of copyright, many users are complaining that their levels have no such issues. An improved search function for online levels would also be appreciated - apparently this is something that is being worked on.

Visually LittleBigPlanet is stunning. Even if it had been developed with no level creation in mind the texturing, bold colours, enemy design and animation would be impressive, but knowing that you can create entire levels with exactly the same 'look' takes this game to an entirely new level. Customisation is key and there are literally millions of combinations of clothing and items for Sackboy to wear and Sony have been releasing downloadable content online to give him more unique looks.

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Building a level near the sea.
Sonically LittleBigPlanet also manages to impress with a wide range of music on offer as well as visual effects which are all themed to the different levels in the game. Narration from Stephen Fry is pretty impressive as he guides you through the early stages of the game, and during the level creation tutorials.

LittleBigPlanet is an essential purchase for anyone who connects their PS3 online. If you don't the value is a little questionable given the massive focus on content sharing. Visually and aurally superb this one of the most unique titles ever seen and is a game to add to all collections.

Review By: Dave Warner

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GRAPHICSVisually this game looks spectacular with superb texturing and customisation.
93%
SOUNDA solid range of music and effects provide plenty of atmosphere.
88%
GAMEPLAYWhile Sackboy seems a little floaty at first you soon get used to it and this becomes a brilliant platformer.
94%
VALUEIf you play offline it's not great value. Online levels add more value, but the true value is in creation of levels.
95%
OVERALLLittleBigPlanet users in a new era for gaming. Sure we've had level creators before, but never this well established. An amazing title that should be in every PS3 owners collection - unless you despise the thought of building or playing user created content.
92%

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