Friday, January 02, 2009

Impressions: Little Big Planet

It wouldn't be fair to call this post a review of Little Big Planet, because I haven't completely seen the entire game yet (I haven't completed it yet). I will say that I've played enough to give my take on the game, and most likely after finishing it I'll post a short review on it, too.

Initially, Little Big Planet rubbed off the wrong way with me. For starters, the first 'level' is an area where the developers stuck their real-life faces on a bunch of wall textures to give themselves some credit for the game. I didn't like that first area; granted, it's a tutorial and an introduction rolled into one. I can imagine some people will probably think that that first level was well done (because of the developer's faces plastered everywhere), but it just didn't work with me.

A few levels in, the thing that bothered me the most early on was the soundtrack, which was just horrid (now, before you overreact and think I hate the game let me just say that....give this review a chance and keep on reading. Just let me get this bit about the game soundtrack out of the way.)

Some of the first few levels have the worst pieces of in-game music soundtrack I've ever heard in any game, EVER. Why? Because, for some reason or another, the music at the first few levels of the game can really, really put you to sleep. It's even worse if you're not the one playing the game. Sometimes me and my wife take turns playing the levels and when I'm the one watching her play the game, I could feel my eyelids getting heavy because the soundtrack was so slow and droning. I hope someone out there from Media Molecule is reading....please fire your musicians and get someone better.....

....Because, as it is, Little Big Planet is a pretty fine game if you manage to tune out the soundtrack somehow. Later levels in the game exhibit a lot more creativity with the platforming and level design, and there's a lot of memorable little moments all throughout each level. You can see each level getting progressively better, and by the time I'm writing this, I'm already in that area that looks like a tribute to elements of Japanese culture. It has some really cool puzzles which every gamer should get to experience. They're just so well crafted and creative, and Media Molecule definitely deserves some kudos for their efforts.

Sackboy's movement physics can get very floaty and it makes some of the platforming bits more challenging; but the game never becomes frustrating. In fact, every time you reach a checkpoint, the game gives you a full set of lives again, and in some instances it gives you more lives than usual, when you're in tough situation. The whole point of the game seems to be getting the highest possible score (which is then posted and compared via an online leaderboard) and collecting in-game items like stickers and objects for creating levels.

I haven't played with the in-game level editor yet but it seems like an interesting diversion I should get to try eventually. Overall, thus far, both me and my wife have been very pleased with Little Big Planet. Sony has a real hit on their hands with this game, which clearly appeals to gamers of all ages, of every persuasion (whether you're hardcore or casual, there is definitely something you'll enjoy in LBP).

If you're a hardcore gamer, and the first few levels seem simplistic (and the music becomes grating to you)....give it a chance. There is a point when the game just nails a good balance between just being fun and at the same time providing a decent level of challenge, enough to distract you for five minutes or even for two hours.

Great game :)

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