E3 2008: LittleBigPlanet Hands-On Preview

Coming into E3, LittleBigPlanet sat high on my list of most anticipated games for the show. After Sony’s LBP "Breakout Event" and some hands-on time with the game, I can say with certainty that the hype is well-deserved.

LittleBigPlanet is an action platformer from developer Media Molecule that aims to take the "web 2.0" mentality and apply it to videogames via a piece of software centered around the player community and their interaction with one another.

The core gameplay is reminiscent of traditional platform games such as Donkey Kong Country, but with significant improvements for the current generation of consoles. Essentially 2 1/2-D, it is a side-scroller with just enough depth to the play field to greatly increase the possibilities for varied navigation of the game’s environments. Physics play a huge part in the gameplay and level design, with nearly every structure being affected by weight, force, and momentum. Up to four players work cooperatively and in opposition to one another to complete levels that run vertically, horizontally, and every which way in between.

While the basic mechanics of LittleBigPlanet’s play mode are enough to get gamers excited, it is the extensive customization and community features that push the title to the next level of "give me now."



Create mode gives players the power to build levels that rival those created by the game’s developers. Any LittleBigPlanet user can adjust everything from the visual and audio components to the structural and procedural elements of the level. The background, color scheme, lighting, music, sound effects, platform construction, object motion patterns, and more are all determined by the person manning the controller. Manipulatable gadgets and event triggers can be dropped into the levels for players to activate during play mode, and a variety of AI brains can be inserted into enemy machines to dictate those structures’ behavior.

After creating a masterpiece in level design, or even a single object or sticker, the content can be "copyrighted," "hearted," sent to friends, or uploaded to the general pool of community submissions, where every other LittleBigPlanet user will then have access to it. Even photos taken in-game will automatically tag the PlayStation Network IDs of all characters in the photo.

The community portion of the game does not use traditional online lobbies, but operates on a social network-like tagging and search system. User-created levels are searchable by the tags left by other players, by author, by popularity, or by freshness to the servers. If you’d rather not be bothered with searching, the game will automatically present a collection of levels you might enjoy based on past "hearts," played levels, tags, etc., so you can jump right into the game from your pod, the game’s hub area.




The extent to which a player contributes (sharing, tagging, commenting, and exploring new content) adds points to that person’s overall LittleBigPlanet ranking, distinguishing him or her as an upstanding member of the LBP community. Trophies will also be a part of the game, providing added incentives and rewards to players.

Finally, Media Molecule technical director Alex Evans talked about the game’s story mode, which is expected to last longer than 15 hours and feature huge boss characters with multiple forms, each requiring different strategies to conquer.

LittleBigPlanet is sure to impress gamers when it hits the PlayStation 3 this October. The combination of gaming, social networking, content creation, sharing, and the "two-point-oh" movement is going to leave a massive footprint on the gaming landscape. If you don’t have a PS3 by the time this game comes out, here’s your reason to finally buy one.


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Author: Eddie Inzauto View all posts by
Eddie has been writing about games on the interwebz for over ten years. You can find him Editor-in-Chiefing around these parts, or talking nonsense on Twitter @eddieinzauto.

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