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Just when we thought it was all tanks, machine guns and zombies, from out of the blue there appears in our midst a game quite different to those on general release currently. First announced in 2007 and released in 2008, Media Molecule brings to us Little Big Planet. The wait is finally over and the game is here so lets take a look at what it has to offer.
LittleBigPlanet consists of a standard platform gamer and a level creation tool. The platform gaming levels are spread across the planet and you gradually traverse the globe, hence the planet in LittleBigPlanet. One or more players can plough through these levels by controlling the incredibly endearing little fella known as Sackboy.
My old sing along Teddy Ruxpin has nothing on these fully posable little chaps. Your Sackboy starts out as a cloth type small teddy but can be customised with an incredible range of features as you collect items. Completing each level involves making your way across a particularly themed course (i.e. mines, desert, jungle) and collecting as many items as you can along the way. There are special 2 player co-op areas for which 2 players are needed and these are a nice touch for a bit of extra fun (these bits don't inhibit level completion). Whilst undertaking the adventure you can collect special keys that open up new survival challenges, or time trials. If you like a particular feature on a level, you can add it to your hearted items. You can also place stickers onto any part of the playable course, and placing them in the correct places will help you win extra items.
Those with a creative bent will be in their element using some of the many many tools available.
Controlling sackboy is pretty straightforward although a good tip is to use the grab feature when negotiating the spinning wheels. Customising sackboy is a real hoot, my daughter loved it. The arrow and shoulder buttons can be used for micro arm and facial movements in order to add to the mirth.
As mentioned earlier, the other aspect of the game is the level creation utility. You are firstly instructed via tutorials delivered from the universally popular black cab driver and approaching genius (his words) Stephen Fry. The level creation tools allow the user to utilise all those items previously won in order to create their own unique and highly customisable levels. The array of items that you can win and use is simply astounding. Levels can then be shared and played online with friends accordingly.
I have found that my youngsters enjoy some of the survival challenges, and have been in hysterics at some of the farting and other shenanigans.
Although a large part of this title involves the self creation utilities, special credit should be given to the platforming. The creativity of the levels is just immense. There are many hours of fun to be had here. The respawn when dead feature is another well thought out aspect. Upon dying you get to start again from the last key point on the level you managed to overcome. Too many deaths on a particular part of the level will mean that you have to begin again from the beginning.
The graphics and physics are amazing. Although this is a PEGI 7+ title I have found that my youngsters enjoy some of the survival challenges, and have been in hysterics at some of the farting and other shenanigans that make children laugh. The musical score is quite wonderful. It kind of reminded me of the cirque du soleil, as did many of the characters. The songs are really very catchy.
The developers thoroughtly deserve all the plaudits that this game is receiving. The game is sublime. This is a complete turnaround from the mindless violence of many of the war and monster titles available and is just the type of game to bring me back to the gaming table. I hope that there is much more to come.
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