LittleBigPlanet Karting Review: Lacking In Fun And Excitement
Platform: PlayStation 3
LittleBigPlanet Karting puts sackboy in the driver’s seat and sets you up for planets full of racing action.
LittleBigPlanet Karting features a story mode with multiple and distinctive planets full of racing, battles and other mini-games. Each main track on every world has multiple items for you to collect, not just power ups, but “gifts” that you will use to edit your character and kart’s appearance. LittleBigPlanet Karting also features online gameplay with up to 8 players in both racing and battle arenas. And, most important, LittleBigPlanet Karting features a creation mode allowing you to build your own tracks and then share them online with others to experience, making the replay value last a lot longer.
Having a creation mode in any game is always a great idea. It allows us to witness those who really have a knack for creation by being able to play on a track that you can tell that someone put a lot of effort into. This is a good thing for this game because you will blast through the story mode in no time and with much ease. Story mode has a presentational story, but they’re usually short and have the X button begging to be pushed. As you make your way through the mode, visiting planet after planet and winning each course with ease, there will only be a few times that you might have some difficulty. I should also note that you can replay tracks and attempt higher scores on leaderboards, but it really isn’t as interesting as it could be.
When I first began LittleBigPlanet Karting and played the beginning two worlds, I didn’t even have to try to compete, and in fact, I stopped trying. I just raced and went with the flow and no matter what, I would still finish first. I would be in eighth place at the start of the final lap and a few power-ups later, I would be crossing the finish line in first place. Now, I know that is expected in this type of game where items make all the difference. However, it should not be that easy. In other arcade racers where this same type of situation exists, you usually have to work hard and have things go the right way in order to win. You shouldn’t be able to lay back and sing a song while making your comeback to finish in first. There should be some effort or at least the game should create some sense of urgency on the player’s part… but nothing, you sit back and finish in first.
Now, having said that, this was my initial experience and the game did begin to become more difficult, but far more often than not, I still finished in the top 3 and only on a few occasions was I hit at the end of a race that caused me to finish outside the top 3. When you finish outside the top 3 you can’t move on, so you will need to replay the track again. The difficulty level is just not there and the gameplay just doesn’t come across well with the AI. A kart game should be stupidly exciting where you somehow pull off the big comeback and make it exhilarating. There is zero excitement in this game and I have never been so bored with a racing title. Ok, so I have a few times, but it’s not good to be in that company.
I want to point out that the gameplay can still be fun. Getting right into the action, the gameplay handles quite well and the options are fairly typical for a karting experience. I love the controls, options, items and some of the course work… there are still things to appreciate here. In fact, I’ll say it right now – if they were to create a second title down the road, I believe that they have a lot of good things to build on. Some of the course design is pretty nice and fun, some challenging as well and I also love the ability to swing across areas with the grappling hook. But again, I just didn’t feel that much excitement while playing the game. Also, some of the choice music for specific tracks, whether it goes with the theme or not, was horrible. One moment in particular they had such a slow pace song that it made me wonder what the heck they were thinking of with that choice.
Not only is single player about racing and battles, but also about obstacles and other mini-games. Unfortunately, these don’t play well either and can be a little bit frustrating. There is one moment where you have to battle a centipede by chasing him on a track. The only control you have is to shoot a weapon and dodge objects that he puts in your way. The centipede has a health bar that goes down as you shoot him and the idea is interesting to put in the game, but it can end up being more frustrating than fun. The same goes for a final boss battle at the end. It was a nice idea and that one does play a bit better, but the execution and excitement is still missing.
Where this game can win people is in its multiplayer experience. It’s far more fun to battle it out against friends than it is against AI. You and your friend will still more than likely finish 1st and 2nd, but at least it will be a better challenge and more exciting than what you get with the single player. Still, you will be left with a feeling that something is missing; it just doesn’t capture your attention like it should. The other area where this game can win people over is the creation mode. You can create your own tracks and have them play any way you like. This is always fun to experience and it is fairly easy to figure out. It will still take you a lot of time to create and detail the playing field to your liking, but once you do, you’re usually proud of your creation.
LittleBigPlanet Karting is a game that shows promise in areas, but falls short in others. If you are looking at it for a single player experience then you must avoid this title at all costs. The game is built for multiplayer and track creation and if you are going to spend a lot of time online and with friends, then you can find some enjoyment out of this title, but it’s still not the greatest. I think the door could be open to build on what they started and given a better presentation and a more exciting racing experience, they could probably do some really fun things with this title in the future. Unfortunately, I only see the potential this time around and not the results I was hoping for.