LittleBigPlanet Karting
Developer: San Diego Studio
Publisher: SCEE
Release Date: Out Now
Players/Online features: 1-4 split-screen (minigames), 2-8 Online
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LittleBigPlanet Karting starts you off in what appears to be the bridge of a spaceship, and being LittleBigPlanet, it’s naturally made out of cardboard, with a system of eight planets and a moon laid out in front of you. Pressing ‘X’ zooms you into the Earth-shaped “one-stop goss shop” which hosts the selection menus for the story, community, recent activity and the online store. Its neighbouring moon contains the menus for My Earth (this is where your published levels live), My profile (reviews, pics comments etc.), My moon (this is where your saved levers are stored), tutorials and decoration menus for the planets/moon. To be frank, it's all a bit weird and confusing, but that seems to be part of the LittleBigPlanet shtick, and you soon learn your way around the various menus.

Pressing ‘square’ opens your “Popit” a small pictorial menu that houses the characters menu (you can completely customise your Sackdriver and outfits), karts (you can design your own, and paint it), personal (tools and used objects), chat to other players (when online), my pods, and stickers and decorations (sticker and decoration edit tool).

Selecting "Story" gets you racing and zooms you into a typically textile-based planet Earth from where you can select a number of single and multiplayer races and challenges, with a typically cute and disturbingly weird story to loosely link the races together. Nearly every race has collectable goodies and prizes to be won, all of which add to the customisation options.

Pick up Weaponators from weapon pods dotted around the tracks, and use them in a wise and timely fashion to maximise your chances of winning by screwing up the other Sackdriver’s race. Once picked up, you fire a weapon by pressing ‘square’ and each time you hit a rival you get a points bonus, unlock new prize or get a time extension.

Some of the Weaponators fired at you produce such a blurry, dizzying effect that it actually made me feel sick after the third or fourth time I was hit. This is an excellent incentive to get good at blowing up opponent’s incoming missiles (you pull back on the left stick and then fire any Weaponator as it gets near— which is fine as long as you haven’t just fired it off at a kart in front) but might also be an encouragement for some people who suffer from motion sickness to abandon the game very quickly, honestly, it’s that bad. Other things that got my goat were the collision detections-surely not aided by laggy race mates (we don’t have problems on any other racing games), but the actual collisions and the result are awful, and it’s seemingly random who gets the worst of one. Losing all your speed because some dickhead in a motorcycle and sidecar just barely touched you is galling-especially if you’ve gone to the trouble to design a kart that looks like a TANK, tracks and all.

There's a remarkable amount of connectivity in LittleBigPlanet Karting and taking the game online allows you to share other creator’s tracks, pictures and ‘heart’ them as well as race against friends. The online racing was a mixed bag for us, a few easy wins and a lot of lag. The amazing creations we drove around were the highlight, but just as with the story game, it’s just not that much fun. Stablemate ModNation Racers beats LBP Karting hands down in the fun stakes, and has a truckload of customisation options too...

We’re not really sure who LBP Karting is aimed at, it’s all presented in a bright, colourful, childlike kiddies-TV-program way and as always beautifully narrated by Stephen Fry but the game uses fairly long words which little kids might not understand and then adds made up “cute” words like ‘Creatinating’, just to confuse the issue further.

To sum up, the main problem with LittleBigPlanet Karting is that, despite some sublime handling and powerslide physics, the racing isn't actually that good, whether it's on your own against AI opponents or online. The AI opponents often shoot at other Sackracers but don’t actually hit them, and all of them tend to pick on you (often saving a concerted attack for the last lap, which can be infuriating) and when you win a race, you don't get any great feeling of satisfaction—although you will have almost certainly unlocked a selection of new tracks, karts, materials etc to customise your game with. A perfect example of what we call a ‘Marmite’ game, LittleBigPlanet Karting will even divide the loyalties of the LittleBigPlanet platform game community.

Best Bits

- Colourful combat kart racing.
- Stephen Fry narrates.
- Infinitely customisable.
- Some fantastic downloadable creations.
Worst Bits

- It's not actually that much fun.
- Inexplicably laggy online racing.
- Confusing menus.
- Who’s it aimed at?
- Nonsense story.

by: 'Big Tony' Bolognese

Copyright © Gamecell 2013