As the mascot character for the PlayStation 3, it was only a matter of time before Sackboy had his very own karting game. As a series, LittleBig Planet is famous for being rich with charm and depth, enabling users to get creative and craft their very own stages. Each iteration has brought new tools and gimmicks for players to toy around with. Originally developed by Media Molecule, United Front Games are now taking the helm of the latest launch in the series (with support from their predecessors).
LittleBig Planet Karting can be considered the result of combing the LittleBig Planet series with ModNation Racers—another title with focus on creativity and building stages, released in 2010 by United Front. LBP Karting delivers an exceptional range of tools for players to let their imagination run wild. As is to be expected, the player is able to shape the track and craft the terrain as they see fit, plotting objects here and there to set the tone of the map. The title also enables players to manipulate the AI, create their own weapons, and generate functions for varying effects and so on. In truth, there is just far too much depth to sample even for the review, which is absolutely astounding considering that it is just a kart racing game.
Browsing through other users’ levels depicts a grand picture of just what this title is capable of, and many of the top levels outshine even what the developers produce. Without a doubt, there are still some terrible user content available (which you’ll discover should you ever find my own), but the community for LBP Karting shows an impressive amount of imagination and often results in some great experiences. It’s an absolute shame that it’s the user-generated content that often lacks players to compete with online. With a good multiplayer match difficult to find, players are left to deal with the game’s AI.
The single player experience of LBP Karting is by no means poor, but the AI can cause some increasing frustrations when playing. The AI bots often focus their weapons primarily on the player, rather than each other. Being assaulted by a barrage of attacks from the opposing characters isn’t the definition of fun, not when they rarely attack each other. Often times, the player would feel like a painted target rather than a racer. This isn’t to say that the AI is bad; the rubber-banding in this game isn’t that severe. Skilled players should see themselves passing other racers that they are a whole other lap ahead of. Noticeably, the AI tends to stick in groups of two or three close-proximity characters, with the only real challenge being the competition against the top two opponents on the track.
As previously touched upon, players may acquire weapons to get an edge over their opponents. As per the standard of kart racing games, these weapons range from the ability to skip through time to throwing bombs or shooting homing missiles. ModNation Racers included the ability to defend from oncoming attacks using the weapons that the player acquired. Similarly, LBP Karting also employs a mechanic to that effect, exhausting the weapon.
Beyond all of the cool features that LBP Karting brings to the table, at its heart the title is just a simple kart racing game. It’s fast, it’s fun, it’s simple, and it’s great with friends. Players can drift round corners, building up charges for a speed boost, jump between platforms using ramps, and aim to score first place on every race they can. LBP Karting even includes the standard battle modes where players drive around a map trying to score the most hits on their opponents. It’s a shame that, though for all the customization that the title has, the kart customization is relatively shallow. Players can decorate the kart how they wish with little impact on performance.
Ultimately, LittleBig Planet Karting delivers a fun racing experience with a lot to offer. The title offers a competent kart racing experience that keeps on delivering, with a pleasing aesthetic and charm that isn’t often seen, but suffers from a few minor shortcomings regarding the predictable and cheap AI. Fans looking for a neat game to play with friends, or even racing fans looking to get creative, should look no further than this game.
8 Sackfriends out of 10 Sackboys