LittleBigPlanet Review

There are many platform games out there, but most of them are relatively indistinguishable from each other. When a platform game does come along that's a little bit different, a little bit innovative, it tends to stick out from the crowd. At first glance, LittleBigPlanet seems to be a typical platform game you run, you jump, you try not to get squished but as soon as you begin playing it, it quickly becomes apparent that this game is something special. LittleBigPlanet does indeed stand out from the crowd.

There's not really a story or premise to LittleBigPlanet, although the levels that come with the game each have their own narrative. You play as a sack person; a burlap sack with a face, arms, legs, and a big zipper to keep whatever's inside. It might sound surprising, but the game manages to infuse more personality into this little sack person than most games get from their main characters. First of all, you have control over the little guy's emotions. Using the D-pad you can change his emotional state to happy, angry, frightened, or sad, and to varying degrees in between. You can also dress him (or make him a her) with a variety of mix and match clothing and costumes, and more as being made available for download into the game. But back to the story, or lack there of. Your sack person sits in a little space station in orbit around LittleBigPlanet, a planet that looks like it was made from scraps of felt from a craft store. Like your sack person, your space station's control room is completely customizable with a variety of patterns and objects that you can download or that you've collected while playing the game's levels. From this control room you can select which level you'd like to play next, either from those that come with the game or from new levels that you've downloaded or created yourself.

As soon as you begin playing the game you'll know that you're in for something different. The game's levels have a hand made look to them, like they were made with craft store supplies or are something you'd see in a boutique toy store's window display. Everything has a three dimensional look to it, although in reality you have very limited movement in the z-direction (the game's developers call LittleBigPlanet a 2.5D game). LittleBigPlanet also features a realistic physics engine, which is unusual for a platform game. Levers, balance boards, ropes, and chains all react realistically to your actions, and things roll, bounce, and tumble as you'd expect them to if they were real objects. The game's worlds are divided into a series of levels each with its own theme and storyline. The opening world is set in a Medieval kingdom, but then you move on to the African savannah, for example. The worlds that come with the game serve a purpose beyond providing you with some enjoyable and clever platform play; they also serve to prepare you to become a world-creator yourself.

The game's worlds are filled with hidden objects for you to find. When you find one, it is added to your collection and made available for use when you create your own levels. The game's worlds also serve as inspiration, showing you everything that can be done using the game's level designer. The level designer itself is powerful and very object oriented. You can combine objects into new objects and in turn save these new objects for reuse. Don't expect to sit down and create a fantastic new level in a half hour, though. It will take some time and dedication to create a good level, as well as an understanding of the concepts of good level design to become a world builder in LittleBigPlanet.