LittleBigPlanet and its sequel were revolutionary games for the PlayStation 3 in terms of gameplay and creative tools. With cute sackcloth characters, realistic graphics, and the ability to build a wide variety of levels, LBP appealed to a large demographic of gamers from the youngest to the oldest. Media Molecule hit gold with LBP and developer United Front Games attempted to do the same with ModNation Racers which applied many of the creative tools and ideas found in LBP. While not living up to the standard of LBP in creation or top karting games like Mario Kart in robust gameplay, ModNation was a solid game that combined ideas from both. United Front Games decided not to sit in their laurels and has decided to try once again to strike gold with another customizable kart game and it looks like they might have succeeded. Borrowing the LBP branding from Media Molecule, LittleBigPlanet Karting combines karting with all of the charm of LBP.
The biggest factor in a good kart racer is the gameplay mechanics. LBP Karting does not disappoint. The controls are tight and gameplay includes the necessary karting feature drifting. The wrong balance of drifting, control, and speed can ruin how a kart game feels. LBP hits the balance perfectly in the beta. As you kart around the track, another cliche karting feature shows up in the form of items in boxes. Drive into the box and gain the item as a power up. Power ups range from weapons, speed boosts, and warps further up the track. There did not seem to be any cheapness, at least yet, that is found in titles like Mario Kart. The AI was a bit overly rubber bandy but hopefully that will be tweaked by release.
The beta only contained a few levels from adventure mode but one of the standout features of the game allow you to either choose single player or hop into a multiplayer lobby for each race. Integrating multiplayer into the single player areas like this increases the chances that people will play online since they don’t have to go all the way back to the main menu. Seamless worlds in terms of single/multi player is the future of gaming and LBP pulls it off nicely.
The content creation is just as robust as LBP as you can customize nearly all aspects of the game including your character, kart, pod, and track. Track creation is not nearly as complicated as level creation might have been for some in the core series. Karting takes a page from ModNation Racers and makes it simple as painting the track in a 3d plane. When everything is said and done months after release, this is content creation feature will be the bread and butter of the fun factor in LBP Karting if gamers get anywhere as near as creative as they did with the core series.
Overall, the impressions of LBP Karting is that it might grab the title of best kart racer from Nintendo’s Mario Kart. Content creation puts it heads above the other karters and the gameplay aspect of it was fun with tight arcadey controls which was the real missing component in ModNation Racers.