Sackboy has recently become the unofficial poster boy for the PlayStation brand in recent years. With the incredible LittleBigPlanet games, millions of fans have create millions of levels from everything from simple little novelties to full-fledged remakes of games like Final Fantasy VII. With United Front Games Mod Nation Racers getting some positive attention upon release, a lot of people were asking why this wasn’t a LittleBigPlanet title? Well it seems Sony have noticed this and have mashed both these games together to create LittleBigPlanet Karting. Does Sackboy getting behind the wheel spell for success or disaster?
It’s very clear from just playing the game that developers United Front Games wanted to carefully craft the LittleBigPlanet experience that Media Molecule have perfected over the last few years. Although this is a kart racer like Mod Nation Racers, everything from the art, to the layout of the story is very much like LittleBigPlanet, even with Stephen Fry returning as the narrative.
Overall there are 70 events for you to play in from races, battles, challenges and more. Each planet has a story as to why you are here, but it just feels like the typical fluff. Charming as it is, it just won’t keep you invested in what’s going on, especially since this is a kart game where it’s all about how it feels on the track.
So how does Sackboy feel behind the wheel? Well, honestly, quite slow. It would be almost impossible to talk about karting games without mentioning the plumber and friends and although the speed may be slow in the beginning of each of the games, there are cc speeds that off more of a challenge. This game however, just never speeds up.
It really feels like the game suffers from trying to please both licenses and in the end feel disappointing from most angles. They stuck to the level structure of LittleBigPlanet where it feels like you ae progressing through a campaign. In kart racers though, it’s all about the tracks and weapons at your disposal. LittleBigPlanet Karting focuses on making the game feel like LittleBigPlanet in a vehicle and it just doesn’t come off as well as the developers may have hoped for. Controls of the game are definitely functional although cornering and drifting isn’t as good as it could have been. Turning can feel stiff while drifting just isn’t as satisfying to pull off as it should.
The game aslo has bubbles spread throughout their tracks for you to collect throughout the race. However, all it does is increase your score, and adds nothing to gameplay. In a racing title it’s all about the time it takes to get around the track, not the score at the end so the bubble are essentially needless, feeling like it’s ticking the LittleBigPlanet box.
Like the platformer, there are bubbles that unlock textures, pictures, shapes and more on the tracks. It does warrant replayability although I never found collecting these bubbles exciting in the platformer so that interest is further diminished in this game.
Unfortunately even the weapons don’t satisfy. They can feel unbalanced and uninspiring. There is a powerup that allows you t simply skip part of the track which feels cheap while others just feel too familiar to others in the game. They never get to a point where it’s not fun but it does severely lack any creativity or impact.
This is unfortunate because there are battle matches that can seriously be fun, especially when playing online against other players. Even races are quite fun online. It really is such a shame that the speed never increases. Battles are all about taking out as many of the opposition in the time allotted. Some battle arenas on the disc are straight forward while others are separated by jump cannons.
The tracks on offer are a lot like you would find in Mod Nation Racers but with LittleBigPlanet aesthetics thrown on top of it. United Front games though have done everything to include as much of the LittleBigPlanet aspects as they can. Throughout the “campaign” of races you will be driving through jetpacks that act as turbo boosts, bounce on jump pads to reach the other side of a chasm and swing over massive gaps using the grappling hook. It helps add some variety to the races but never really add much to make the races more intense.
It may sound like I don’t like LittleBigPlanet Karting but it’s not that; it just really feels mediocre in every aspect. Tracks should be memorable but because of the simplified creation tools, tracks feels very straight forward and none really surprise the way Mario Kart does when you race on a new track.
The mini-games are quite fun and show the capabilities this game has if players invest in the editor and upload some truly inspiring tracks and mini-games. But that comes back to a major gripe I have even in the LittleBigPlanet games relying on fans to make the game better than the one that was released on the disc.
LittleBigPlanet Karting could have been a lot more, and still could with making more of a tournament structure and adding cc classes. If you don’t own a Nintendo system this will definitely fulfil your need for kart racing games but I can’t help but suggest holding off for Sonic and All-Stars Racing just to see how that fares and choose one of them. Sackboy may have hit a flat on this outing.