LittleBigPlanet Karting PS3 Review

Publisher – Sony Computer Entertainment Europe – Developer – United Front Games – Genre – Racing – Players – 1-8 – Age Rating – 7+ – Other console/handheld formats – N/A

It seems that Sony have taken a look at a number of Nintendo’s prized properties and wanted to make their own versions. This year we have PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, which is Sony’s answer to Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros, as well as LittleBigPlanet Karting (the very game I’m reviewing), which has obviously looked towards Mario Kart for its inspiration.

LittleBigPlanet Karting, developed by ModNation Racers developer United Front, has all the staples of the genre, meaning that there’s some rather OTT tracks, some of which have their sneaky shortcuts, and pick-ups are also in there to spice up the races. Being that it has the LittleBigPlanet name; the game also has a full suite of creation options, in which you can design your own racing tracks with, and it’s even possible to go beyond that with the powerful toolset that the game includes.

Firstly, allow me to talk about how the game plays as a kart racer. Typically, the handling is very easy to get to grips with, and it’s possible to drift around corners, powering up a small boost of speed as you do so, allowing you to catapult forward once you are out of the drift. Pick-ups allow you to get rough with your opponents or to force yourself forward into better positions. When opponent weapons are incoming, you are able to shield yourself to carry on racing without a single scratch, just as long as you have a weapon of your own. In a nice touch, the grappling hook also makes an appearance, and it’s certainly a lot of fun to swing through sections of the tracks.

A little disappointing is the speed of the game, it has to be said. LittleBigPlanet Karting is in no way the fastest of kart racing games, and hitting full speed will perhaps be overly sluggish for some. It’s fast enough to be fun, but not fast enough to really thrill, which is a real shame.

The PlayStation Move is also a control option, although you'll need Sony's PlayStation Move Racing Wheel.

The game has a story mode, in which you have to play in order to get access to the multiplayer races as well as to find building materials for create mode. In the story mode, you’ll be introduced to all the different events which includes the normal circuit races as well as battle and checkpoint racing. The game even has some mini games and a few boss fights, which certainly gives you a little break from all the racing.

Multiplayer options include four player split screen and support for up to eight players online. If you stay in a game in the latter, you’re able to cast your vote for the next track to race on (there’s a selection of three during each race interval). Sadly, there are no tournaments or anything like that, and the game feels a bit lacking because of this.

So, how are the creation options? The previous LittleBigPlanet games had the potential to last a very long time thanks to a creative and dedicated community, and LittleBigPlanet Karting certainly has the tools to get people creating; potentially adding in an unlimited number of tracks for all to race on. Creating tracks is certainly more user friendly than it is to create levels in Media Molecule’s LittleBigPlanet games.

Putting together a basic track takes next to no real effort, although crafting a more complex circuit may take a little practice to completely get to grips with. It’s lucky, then, that Stephen Fry once again returns to painstakingly guide you through the creation options, and if you don’t completely understand how something may work, then it’s very likely that the tutorials will divulge the information you are looking for.

A good early sign is that there are plenty of fresh creations for you to experience from the hands of others, but whether it will maintain its community is another thing. Like the other games in the series, you are able to heart creations as well as creators, and you can also leave or read comments left by others. In fact, all the menus and everything fit comfortably into the bizarre but inviting LittleBigPlanet universe, and the distinct visuals have also been retained, which means where it lacks in bright cartoon colours, it makes up for it with its uniqueness and its charismatic Sackboy characters.

LittleBigPlanet Karting isn’t the best kart racing game on the market, but it does a more than serviceable job. The rather slow speeds may be a letdown, although, if you can look past this, there’s still plenty of fun to be had with a nice mixture of pick-ups and some rather chaotic action. Then, of course, there are the creation options, which are sure to add plenty of longevity to the game long after you are done with the rest of its options.