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LittleBigPlanet: Karting PS3 Review

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating

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LittleBigPlanet: Karting

LittleBigPlanet: Karting

Image © Sony
The world of "LittleBigPlanet" has been one of the most creatively vital and consistently entertaining for Sony PlayStation 3 owners in the last several years and the iconic universe of Sackboy and his friends now enters the genre of racing games with the incredibly addictive "LittleBigPlanet: Karting," released today, November 6, 2012. Sony and the team behind the addictive platforming games "LittleBigPlanet" and "LittleBigPlanet 2" have delivered again with a game that doesn't just display boundless creativity but gives players the tools to let their own imaginations run wild. Yes, this game has undeniably echoes of hits like "Super Mario Kart" and "ModNation Racers" but it seems awfully pessimistic to complain about having another racing addiction that the entire family can play this holiday season. With only a few frustrating mechanics to hold it back from true perfection, this could be one of the most popular games of the holiday 2012 season.

Game Details

  • Publisher: Sony
  • Developer: Sony San Diego Studios
  • ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)
  • Genre: Racing
  • Pros: Creative Track Design, Consistent Graphics, Vibrant Community
  • Cons: Some Weaponry Inconsistency, Some Incomplete Tracks

Like so many great games, the foundation for "LittleBigPlanet: Karting" is deceptively simple. Get behind the wheel and drive. Sure, there will be other tricks to learn as the game goes along like drifting, weaponry, and even grappling, but this is, first and foremost, a racing game. Just as the other "LBP" games did so well, "Karting" brilliantly adds new elements as one progresses through the nearly 30 tracks provided on the disc. And it's not all racing. There will be battle modes, in which you try to defeat the most enemies, and other unique variations on a traditional race. And then the game opens itself up even further when one starts designing their own levels or playing on those created by others. The game would be a fantastic family experience without any online functionality. The fact that it promises to have a robust community makes it one of the best family games of the year.

Gameplay

LittleBigPlanet: Karting

LittleBigPlanet: Karting

Image © Sony

The "LittleBigPlanet" games work off a well-publicized slogan -- "Play, Create, Share." The experience of "LittleBigPlanet: Karting" does not stray from this model. Most players will start with the "Story," a variety of races spread across a variety of planets. Some of these levels can be held right up there with the best of "Mario Kart" in the way they brilliantly hold up on numerous replays. Not only will you want to find new shortcuts but the tracks hold prize packs that can be found that contain new stickers, outfits, tools, and even karts. In other words, repeated play changes the game because it gives you new tools with which to enjoy your "Karting" experience. It's not just about trying to beat your buddy's best score. It's also about further customizing your pod, kart, or Sackboy.

Like "Mario Kart," these races are not exactly peaceful. The racer picks up weapons along the way and they're all essentially familiar -- mines, rockets, etc. There is a smart dynamic in which a weapon can be used defensively if it's timed right against an opponent's shot and later levels employ numerous bells and whistles like jumps, rockets, and points to grapple over the environment.

It's not always as consistent as one would hope. Most frustrating can be the reset that comes with flying off the track into an undefined (and often completely barren of graphics) section of the course. At one point, you'll reset immediately and be right back in the race. At another, it feels like it takes long enough that the other seven racers should have lapped you by now. The weapons are similarly inconsistent in that a shot can sometimes decimate your enemy and other times just graze them.

The inconsistency of some elements of "LittleBigPlanet: Karting" is never problematic enough to detract from the remarkable creativity of this title. I'll admit to being biased. I love the world of "LittleBigPlanet." I loved "Super Mario Kart" way back on the Nintendo 64. And so "LittleBigPlanet: Karting" seems like a perfect blend of the two. It does to this gamer exactly what United Front Games and Sony want it to do to the world -- turns me into a kid again.

Graphics & Sound

"LittleBigPlanet: Karting" is far from a visual masterpiece but there's a consistency of the look here along the "LBP" franchise that's notable. All of the outfits, karts, levels, etc. feel of a piece and there are never any truly notable gaps in the visuals. And the tracks are not only nicely varied but the tools given to players to create are seamingly endless. It says something that one of the best tracks I've played so far was created by a community member. The graphical tools need to be something that allows the on-disc levels to blend with the community-created ones and the team behind "LBP: Karting" have done that perfectly.

Overall

LittleBigPlanet: Karting

LittleBigPlanet: Karting

Image © Sony
Very few games offer the replay value of "LittleBigPlanet: Karting." It won't take you long to get through the 30 on-disc levels but there are 30 more being created right now as you read this. It's a game that I know I'll be going back to again and again long after I've put many of the major titles of this season away for good. What more do you want from a family game than one that is no mere flash in the pan but something that can spark their creativity for months or even years to come?
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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