LittleBigPlanet Karting Hands-on (PS3)

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LittleBigPlanet was a revolutionary new title when it hit the gaming scene back in 2008, a game that allowed you to play, create, and share in a fun and creative puzzle platformer that followed the adventures of Sackboy. Fast forward four years, and a sequel, a portable version, millions of incredible user-created levels and countless numbers of stickers and costumes later, and we’re still talking about LittleBigPlanet…but this time around it’s something a little bit different!

LittleBigPlanet Karting Screenshot 1

LittleBigPlanet Karting is a “fast-paced experience that captures the best of classic karting gameplay, married with the unbridled creativity of LittleBigPlanet.” Media Molecule has entrusted this new entry in the franchise to ModNation Racers developer United Front Games, who has promised to keep the ‘Play, Create, Share’ motto synonymous with the LittleBigPlanet series at the heart of the experience.

According to United Front Games, the new adventure will be accessible to players of all ages and will include enough variety to keep both hardcore and casual players satisfied. You’ll be able to create and build in three-dimensional space for the first time in a LittleBigPlanet game, so expect to see a new toolbox specifically tailored to allow you to build in the 3D world, along with lots of familiar LittleBigPlanet gadgets too of course.

LittleBigPlanet Karting Screenshot 6

LittleBigPlanet Karting will include story and battles modes, objective-based missions and mini-games, as well as split-screen and online multiplayer racing modes. Players will even be able to modify rules to create new modes and challenges, as well as build new tracks, customise Sackboy and karts and design power-ups and weapons…and enjoy the new levels created by the LittleBigPlanet community of course!

We got the opportunity to step into the Craftworld universe at E3 a little while back, we tested the karting action with Sackboy behind the wheel and even got to enjoy a good ol’ Egg Hunt too. The racing was pretty standard (and simple) in terms of controls: X to accelerate, circle to reverse, square to activate a power-up and R1 to drift. As you careen around the corners of the track you’ll be forgiven for losing a position in the race as you take in the beautifully created scenery around you, as awesome and crazy as you expect to find in any LittleBigPlanet game.

LittleBigPlanet Karting Screenshot 2

The game handled similarly to other arcade racers out there, the only concern I have is that to press X to accelerate, and continue holding this down while pressing square for a power-up feels a little awkward. If this is the final control scheme then I hope that we have the option to customise our controls so I can map it to something a little more comfortable and intuitive. The power-ups help to bring a little bit more magic into the race, and I can foresee many squabbles between friends over a well-timed rocket that sends you over the finish line first instead of them. As usual drifting will be key in navigating the course’s corners correctly and earning all-important speed boosts.

The Egg Hunt challenge gives players the chance to collect as many eggs as possible within a time limit. Dashing wildly around the course, collecting eggs and then dropping then into the designated spot may sound simple at first, but add a fire-breathing mama bird that’s not too happy about the egg theft and things get a lot more complicated! Hit the L1 button to collect the egg, and keep holding it in until you want to release the egg. Once you’ve mastered this technique you’ll be able to learn how to throw the egg towards the collection point, by pushing up on the left analogue stick and releasing L1. It’s a fun mini-game, but with two members of the demo team hotly contesting scores it’s also an example of how a relatively simple game can become competitive and addictive very quickly.

LittleBigPlanet Karting Screenshot 8

Expect classic karting action in vibrantly colourful and creative game worlds when LittleBigPlanet Karting launches for the PS3 in 2012.