When the original Little Big Planet exploded in to the world of video games in 2008, it was like a shot in the arm to the PlayStation 3. It was just what Sony had needed – a loveable mascot that people could get behind, a platformer that would appeal to both the core and the fringe audience, and something that would sell like gangbusters. Players were given a virtual toy box filled with tools that most had never seen before, and it allowed players everywhere to ascend to something more – the realm of creators and designers. Little Big Planet 2 further upped the ante, adding more tools to the mix, and ultimately giving players even more freedom to make what they wanted, leading to some levels that I can honestly say were better than the levels the actual developers had created. In between those two gems was Little Big Planet PSP, which was a great game in its own right (even though is was only single player), and which also allowed you to create your own levels on the go. With such a heady prestige in front of him, can Sackboy really show us anything new this go around?
Lets get this out of the way right from the gate: Little Big Planet Vita looks amazing. I have had the privilege (and in some cases, the misfortune) of playing every Vita game released so far, and Little Big Planet Vita blows them all away. When Sony originally said that the PlayStation Vita would be able to deliver PlayStation 3 quality graphics, I was skeptical – but this game shows just how true that statement was. I was stunned by just how amazing everything looked here, from the deliciously detailed backgrounds to the various enemies Sackboy has to face here; it all looks great. The sound is another thing that Little Big Planet games are known for – no, not the random noises that people make (much like Charlie Brown adults), but rather the game soundtrack, and Little Big Planet Vita is no different. I found myself humming tunes throughout the day just because they were so damn catchy.
Gameplay wise, it is pretty much everything you would expect from a Little Big Planet game, with a few Vita specific additions. The touch screen and rear touch pad are utilized in Little Big Planet Vita better than they have been in any other game that I have played – not just as an afterthought, but as a specific gameplay element that you need to be aware of. In some places, you will be required to use your finger to spin a wheel to give you momentum; in other places you will have to pull a platform along for you to ride on; but the most interesting is when there are blocks that you can move in and out of the virtual three dimensional space. You see, there could be a block obstructing your path that you can “push” into a back layer by tapping on it – then say you take a ramp and need that same block to give you something to walk on, you can tap on the rear touch pad to pop it back in to the front layer. It really is pretty neat – even if it can be hard to aim your fingers on the rear touch pad at times.
Unfortunately the story mode of Little Big Planet Vita is extremely short – my wife is not a gamer in any sense of the word, but she loves Little Big Planet (it was her only reason for buying a Vita in the first place). It took her somewhere between twelve and fifteen hours to finish the main story. Of course the big draw in any Little Big Planet game is the veritable plethora of community created levels that are available, but to someone that only plays single player things that length is a bit disappointing. Now going through and making sure you have everything (all the stickers, costume parts, and decorations) will require a LOT more of a time investment, but for those who just want to immerse themselves in the story they might be upset. The story itself is on par with other Little Big Planet games – somewhat coherent, but generally a vessel to get you from one developer created showcase to the next. Maybe I’m just too critical on that though, but really – who ever pays that much attention to Little Big Planet stories anyways?
The multiplayer component was something I was really excited with, and was something I was really let down by. I can only assume that the servers are still getting up to speed, because when I played it with my wife in the same room (over our WiFi), I would get periodic spikes of lag – not so much that it would ruin our game, but it would happen at inopportune times (like going in to the “two players required” areas). When I went and found random people playing, the lag was just as bad, but again – I have faith that this will be addressed really quickly. One online feature that is really cool is that Little Big Planet Vita, Little Big Planet 2, and Little Big Planet Karting all have their costume purchases synched together. What that means is that if you got a costume on one of the games, you can use it on the others – so anyone who was big into Little Big Planet 2 will have a lot more dress up options than someone new to the game. The level creation tools are robust as ever, and I played around with them enough to know that I should leave the designing to the pros. My wife on the other hand has actually started to make her own level, and from what I played of it it is surprisingly good – who knows, maybe this will be like a gateway drug and get her into more gaming.
Bottom Line: This is a game designed to keep the Sackboy fans out there happy, and to show off what the Vita is capable of, and it succeeds on all fronts – multiplayer lag is the only thing holding it back.
- Like all previous Little Big Planet games, it is cute and easily approachable
- Really shows off the Vita hardware and what its capabilities are
- Doesn’t skimp on the level creation tools on the smaller platform
- The lag that you will find in multiplayer games (at least at the time of this writing) is irritating
- Incredibly short story
- Sometimes can be hard to tap the rear touch pad in the right spot
You can get a copy of Little Big Planet Vita wherever games are sold like Amazon for $39.99
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