Play, Create, Share; those three words have been the back bone of some of the most creative Playstation titles this generation. LittleBigPlanet 2 remains my number one platforming title introduced in the past five years. The LittleBigPlanet games are just bursting with innovation, and the never ending cycle of user-generated discovery insures you’re never left without an adventure with your Sack……boy.
Then United Front Games came along and offered the PS3 platform the one thing it was in dire need of, a Karting game. That Karting game was ModNation Racers, and it embraced the Play, Create, Share methodology with open arms. Even as I think back on the game I remember how addicting it got playing those races over and over until I came first and picked up all the collectables.
It’s clear that these two games are a match made in heaven, and therefore it was only a matter of time before they joined forces. LittleBigPlanet Karting is the offspring to both games, and it is developed by United Front Games.
If you’ve played both those games before, then you will feel right at home as soon as you enter your Pod. LittleBigPlanet Karting’s Pod and Sackboy customizations work exactly the same as they do in the regular games, and you can even carry over any costumes, pods and stickers you have saved on your hard-drive.
The obvious difference is the fact that now your Sackboy is sat behind the wheel, and there is now an option to customize your Kart in the popit menu. Seeing the typical LittleBigPlanet interface is definitely settling, but it kind of makes it hit home that this is literally just a LittleBigPlanet game on Karts. It seems very DLC’ish.
To progress through the game you must play through the story mode, which sees you taking part in races and challenges on different planets. Each planet has a set of main courses to race through, and a couple challenges consisting of battle arenas, checkpoint rallies, drift challenges and more. The story mode feels incredibly unoriginal for a LittleBigPlanet game, and it can be more off-putting than encouraging. One of the most apparent flaws is the game forcing you to finish a race before you can unlock the multiplayer/co-operative version of the track. LittleBigPlanet is an experience made to be shared, so being able to play through the story with a friend (or friends) from the jump should be a given.
Gameplay is very straight forward, you can either use the X or R2 button to accelerate. Whichever button you don’t use for your acceleration will become the drift button. Holding your drift for an extended amount of time fires up your Kart and allows you to boost. Utilizing the drift is a big part of finishing in the top three positions, so you must use it well.
As you race through the course you’ll see bubbles, and collectables scattered around the track. You’ll likely miss them on the first lap, but you can easily memorize the locations and scoop them up the second time around.
Whipping the right analog stick left or right will allow you to smack nearby opponents, stunning them for a few seconds. Just remember that you’re not the only one who can dish out the punishment.
So you’ve read my lovely subtitle and you’re wondering whether the statement “Driving Me Crazy” actually holds some weight to my experience with the game, or if it’s just a cheesy little pun title designed to catch an eye or two on Twitter. Well I assure you that it’s not the latter. LittleBigPlanet Karting really does drive me crazy, and It hurts me to say that about anything with with the LittleBigPlanet label.
As with ModNation Racers you’re able to collect weapons to take out your opponents. You’ll come across weapons that will allow you to shoot projectiles, fast forward a few positions, and shock enemies. If you’re in a high position then you should be well prepared to be a target. If you have a weapon held then you’re able to counter an opponent’s attack by pressing square once the shield icon pops up, it takes some timing but it’s fairly simple stuff.
So here’s where my frustration lies; once you successfully counter an attack you no longer have any weapon or any means of protecting yourself, and you’ll find that the CPU will spam the projectiles while you are fully vulnerable and unable to counter. This means you’ll find yourself robbed from victory way too often, and eventually it gets frustrating to the point it’s no longer fun. It makes playing the story mode against the CPU even more off-putting than it already is. After finishing the first planet you just can’t help but feel like the story mode is dull, frustrating and forgettable.
Usually in LittleBigPlanet titles, the story mode is just half the fun. The rest of the charm comes from playing through the never ending database of user generated levels, and in this case LittleBigPlanet Karting offers players the chance to create their dream Karting course.
Creating a course has been made very simple thanks to the ModNation Racers paint tool, which allows you to paint your whole track out using the acceleration and steering controls. With your track laid out nice and simple it leaves you with the long winded tasks of populating the track with all the bits and bobs needed to create something unique. As per usual there are tutorials on offer to help you with that, but watching them gets very daunting.
Overall LittleBigPlanet Karting ends up feeling like a very empty experience when you compare it to its parent titles. LittleBigPlanet and ModNation Racers are games that can be enjoyed whether alone or with friends/family. But LittleBigPlanet is one of those games that you may only end up enjoying if you play with someone else, and even then it feels like a chore considering you can’t play story levels without unlocking them alone first. So it ends up being a mildly fun game that will be overlooked this holiday.
This review was based on a retail copy of the game for the PlayStation 3 provided by Sony.