Winning Focus Isn’t All Too Clear
As many long time LittleBigPlanet fans are aware of, the game sports two sets of bubbles placed throughout levels. The same is true of LittleBigPlanet Karting, but it doesn’t feel like UFG has combined the elements of a racing game with the elements of points and prizes. You can of course choose to go for prize bubbles so you have more items to work with when customizing your Sack-person, kart, or levels in the coming future, or you can choose to focus on winning the race. I personally found myself initially trying to collect all prize bubbles in a level while also winning the race in first place. Surely enough this isn’t impossible, but proves to be overly annoying and difficult as the story mode progresses and levels develop more tedious bubble placement.
Lack of Innovation
When combining the forces of two ‘Play, Create, Share’ titles, new levels of creation would be expected. Strangely enough this doesn’t seem to be the case for Littlebigplanet Karting. The blending of the two game’s creation engines feels very sloppy and rushed, almost as if one was just pasted on top of another and called a day. In an ideal form it would be evident that the developer would make it easy for creators to jump right into the game and get working on levels to keep the game alive, but instead just about everything is left to the player. Sure there are a few automatic features such as the ability to let the game finish your track loop from your current place, but there are many other items left out that overshadow this.
To start, it is likely that many levels throughout the community will look quite bland due to UFG not bringing the auto populate tool over to LittleBigPlanet Karting. For those unfamiliar with the tool, it was a simple one press tool that would fill in your level/track with various random environmental decorations to make your level look less bland. Surely the dedicated creators will and probably always have made their own custom environments, but this hardly caters to the more casual fans out there looking to make some nice levels. Another fairly large thing to leave out is ease in terms of in-game logic. As LittleBigPlanet has become more complex over time, so has the logic and Media Molecule has done a good job of assisting players in being able to work with this advanced logic. United Front Games does not carry this tradition over to Karting, but instead take two steps back by making things much more difficult then they need to be. Sure you could play a tutorial to learn some of the ins and outs of the game’s tools, but they’re also a step back from previous LittleBigPlanet games. Unlike before, tutorials are now exclusively video based, rather than the usually very helpful ones that are partly video, and partly demonstrating the ability to follow the video. Trying to learn things from videos was much harder than actually playing a tutorial and walking through it.
With Karting, the customization also takes a rather significant hit, rather than a huge benefit that could have occurred. When it came to ModNation Racers, there was full on kart and character customization down to the very small details, which is also true for LittleBigPlanet, minus the karts. Surely a combination of these two well done customization heavy games could have fared well, but like create mode, the customization felt like a poor and lazily done copy/paste job.
A seemingly strange way of looking at multiplayer was the decision to make separate levels for offline and online multiplayer, or even for the ability to play with others than the AI. When a level is completed, a copy of that level is unlocked, which allows you to play with other players. Now unlike previous LittleBigPlanet games where players could access levels regardless of their story progress, they must now unlock the level to be able to play it, or they will be fully locked out. The reason for UFG limiting the community to play together is truly unknown, as this decision makes virtually no sense at all.
Not Too Enjoyable
Anyone who has played kart racing games in the past will remember how fun they can be, especially with friends or family. LittleBigPlanet Karting doesn’t do too great of a job on this element of the game. Sure a cheap shot at a buddy with a rocket might make you sneer briefly, but the overall experience that can be found in older games like Mario Kart is definitely not present.
Though the child of two generally popular games, LittleBigPlanet Karting doesn’t have what it takes to be a complete karting experience capable of mashing the two together. While the game does have some positive aspects such as visuals and three dimensional level design, they are vastly overshadowed by its many considerable low points, most notably being the lack of innovation. There is barely any real value in buying the game when the individual titles are much better on their own and will cost you much less. Though long time LittleBigPlanet fans might find some enjoyment in Karting, most will agree that it is worth passing up.
[Editor’s Note: LittleBigPlanet Karting was reviewed on the PlayStation 3 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]