Sony has big plans for its latest platform game as it tries to turn the PS3 into a social networking console. But is LittleBIGPlanet the answer? We get playing to find out.
The premise is simple. You play Sackboy (or Sackgirl for that matter) and are charged with completing the 2D platform levels full of puzzles set out before you. Think early Sonic or Mario and you'll be on the right lines.
Doesn't sound that exciting or cutting-edge does it? Well the cutting edge bit comes in the fact that you can make levels and then share them with other LittleBIGPlanet users around the world with the best levels showcased in an online area within the game.
To that add some really cute graphics (think Monkey from the OnDigital and PG Tips adverts), a funky soundtrack and a tutorial voiceover by Stephen Fry that guides you through the game and you've got the makings of a classic from Sony that is sure to drive console sales in the run-up to Christmas.
After customising your Sackboy with multiple colourways, clothes and even facial expressions you’re ready to take to the levels. Like Super Mario Galaxy, the game is based around exploring levels through worlds with the puzzles getting harder as you complete the game.
Pick-ups in-game involve collecting stickers you can either use to decorate your personal living space (the home screen basically) to actually making the levels a bit more fun (graffiti style). Some of the puzzles actually involve you having to use the stickers as well.
However, while a single player campaign exists, the real fun will be had in the online space.
At the press of a button you are in the online community area where the focus is creating and sharing levels you've custom built. Like YouTube, some of the levels we've been playing as part of the Beta ahead of the launch have been amazing while others rather disappointing. Talking to Sony, when the game launches on the 24 October, players will be able to rate levels so only the good stuff rises to the top of the pile.
But already there are some gems: we especially like Sweet Child of Mind, which sees you playing the opening bars to the Guns N' Roses track of the same name. Sonic Green Hill has seen someone create Green Hill from the first Sonic game on the MegaDrive, jumping fish included. It must have taken them ages. We also like the Xbox 360 vs. PS3 level which sees you having to choose between the two consoles. Choose PS3 and you're showered with rewards, chose Xbox 360 and you're forced into what has to be the hardest level we've come across.
Building your own levels is easy, but painstakingly slow and is likely to be only for the die-hard fan. Luckily it's not a necessity. If you've ever played games like Rollercoaster Tycoon, it's a bit like deciding to build a rollercoaster from scratch, it might be rewarding (well from a gamer’s point of view) but it's takes time.
LittleBIGPlanet is Sony trying to catch up with Xbox and Nintendo in the social gaming stakes, something, apart from SingStar, that has been thin on the ground. This is Sony trying to offer more than murder death kill from games like RFOM and Killzone. The good news it achieves what it sets out to do.
The developers Media Molecule have created a game that is not only cute and cuddly, interesting and challenging, but one that will appeal to anyone over 7-years-old.
The single player mode offers plenty, but when you hop online it's the big vast open space of LittleBIGPlanet where this game will really make its mark.