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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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