Stephen Fry’s dulcet tones immediately sold me the world of LittleBigPlanet. In the least platonic way possible I very much love him. He introduces one of the most well-constructed platform games in years, epitomising the charm which the game itself so happily engulfs you in.
In ten years time when we look back at the current generation of consoles, LittleBigPlanet will be right up there as one of the defining moments in gaming’s development. Not because of its strengths as a 2D platformer, in characterisation and charisma, or even the creation of the infinitely lovable Sackboy: a mascot who looks soon to become a poster boy for Playstation 3 (though Nathan Drake is obviously much more handsome – and has a better name to boot). Instead LBP’s most revolutionary feature is the fantastic way in which the worldwide community is integrated into the software from the ground-up. No longer is it acceptable for a game to slap an online leaderboard onto the end of a level and thereby declare it is now at the forefront of a next-generation worldwide community-based experience; simply put, LittleBigPlanet has raised the bar by which all other console games will be judged.
The suite of level creation tools is one of the most extensive in any console game, and can be crucial to your enjoyment of the game even if you never touch them yourself. Go to ‘Cool Levels’, and LittleBigPlanet presents you with an alternative world of stages created by other players, scattered around randomly to encourage you to browse and take punts on things. A genius tagging system – where you’re asked to pick one of a random selection of words to describe a level after you’ve played it – combined with “heart” scores (hearting is LittleBigPlanet’s equivalent of digg.com’s digging, and also works as a bookmark for favourite items in Create mode) it’s easy to get a feel for what’s worth trying. Levels download very quickly, too, and can be saved to the hard drive for posterity, or to edit yourself later.
The quality and diversity is surprising. Even though the vast majority of user created content is, to be honest, somewhat trashy, the overwhelming quantity and the way in which it is presented means that you can never be short of unique content which equals, if not betters, the ingenuity displayed even by the developer’s own level designers. And that doesn’t mean playing on your own isn’t enjoyable. The levels that are supplied on the disc are of the highest quality, a real joy to play through multiple times with multiple nooks and crannies to explore. You really can’t understand the charm conveyed by the inhabitants of LBP’s levels until you’ve experienced it firsthand and even then something new will catch your eye, the next time you pick up the controller.
This short article really doesn’t give LittleBigPlanet the attention it deserves. The game provides a renewable sideshow, a daily source of surprises and silliness and a genuinely new form of interactive entertainment. LittleBigPlanet is a triumph that should not be missed.