LittleBigPlanet Karting (PS3)

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LittleBigPlanet Karting is out on November 6th in the US, November 7th in Europe and November 9th in the UK so let’s have a look at what’s going to be in the game. Sackboy is of course the star of the show, as well as LittleBigPlanet’s signature themes and editing components. Media Molecule is collaborating on the title but it’s being developed by United Front games (who recently made Sleeping Dogs and previously made ModNation Racers) together with Sony’s San Diego Studio.

The game’s descendance from ModNation Racers is apparent, but the fusion of LittleBigPlanet is an obvious business choice because of the popularity of that series and its potential for becoming a bigger mass-market brand.

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LittleBigPlanet Karting supports all modes we might expect from a modern karting title: four-player split-screen, Battle Mode, two-player split-screen online vs other people online and eight-player online races. There is also a two-player co-operative story mode feature, and you can join up to two other people online to play through the story mode as a team of four. Quick Play will drop you into a match with eight other players really quickly, and combined with level voting (where players can choose between four random tracks) the game provides an ‘endless loop of competition.’

Themes in the game have been translated from previous LittleBigPlanet titles in a similar fashion to Mario Kart. There are tracks inspired by The Garden, The Mines, Eve’s Asylum, Avalonia, and then some other areas like Monster Islands, a “mash-up between beach party and Japanese monster movies,” and Progress Emporium, inspired by a 50s style kitchen. The story mode is also something inspired by the platforming series – there are characters, dialogue, cut-scenes, various types of races and missions as well as mini-games which make up a singleplayer or co-op story.

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One of the big selling points of all LittleBigPlanet games is the editing and customization tools. Like in ModNation Racers you are able to create your own tracks or download tracks created by other players. The canvas is much larger this time and there are many new tools and gadgets – you can create custom weapons, for example, or configure custom Kart physics (a race on the moon, or an F1 circuit?), as well as cut-scenes and custom AI. You can also apply post-processing visual effect such as sepia tints, or set different winning conditions, or change the HUD itself.

This gives players all of the tools to make their own racing game which might be completely different to LittleBigPlanet Karting, an exciting prospect in its own right as we’ve seen from recent mods, like DayZ for Arma II. Given the tools, we might even see a first-person shooter or a 3D platformer come out on the LittleBigPlanet Karting platform!

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You can transfer your Sackboy costumes over to LittleBigPlanet Karting, and 250 different karts are included in the game. One final point to note is that United Front is “working very hard on load times,” which really hurt ModNation Racers’ flow. If the team can get that down, LittleBigPlanet Karting looks like a fun four-player racing kit that should appeal to Sackboy fans and kart-racing fans everywhere.

LittleBigPlanet Karting is a PlayStation 3-exclusive and while there’s no sign of a Vita version just yet, it will likely come if this one does well enough.

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