LittleBigPlanet Karting Review

LittleBigPlanet Karting (Available exclusively on PlayStation 3)
ESRB Rating: E
Number of Players: 1 to 8
Genre: Kart Racing
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: United Front Games
Release Date: November 6th, 2012

Parent Talk: Have you ever played Mario Kart or ModNation Racers? If so, you know what to expect here, some mild cartoon violence and comic mischief. This is the perfect title for younger and older players alike. In fact, I’m going to be using this one as a stocking stuffer this holiday season, but don’t tell anyone.

Plays Like: Customize karts, use on-track weapons to try and take out opposing racers, all while navigating wacky and creative tracks. Sound familiar? It should, because this is a game that stems from the kart racing genre Super Mario Kart created many years back.

Review Basis: Played as much of the game as I could. Tried all the different gameplay modes.

What happens when you take ModNation Racers and combine it with the LittleBigPlanet license, that’s right, you get LittleBigPlanet Karting. I’ll admit I was a little surprised when this title was announced because I thought ModNation was Sony’s Mario Kart, and felt it odd that there were now two entries in the genre made in-house by Sony. Regardless of their reasoning, LBPK is a fun and enjoyable kart racing game, although doesn’t quite surpass ModNation Racers.

The Great:

Another racing game using the play, create, share tag line Sony has been using since the original LittleBigPlanet hit the scene several years ago. The track editor is one of the deepest I’ve ever seen, and the amount of player created content should last for months if not years.

The Good:

+ Stephen Fry returns to narrate the story, and teach would-be players the ropes. His charm is infectious as always.

+ Tight and responsive controls mean you’ll be drifting around corners with the best of ’em. Drifting is important because it allows you to boost for longer periods of time.

+ Fun and creative weapons are a pleasure to use, although defensive gameplay is strongly favored. From rockets to land mines, the weapons are what you’d expect to find in a racer such as this. My personal favorite is hands down the fast-forward item, this acts as a super boost blasting you far ahead of your opponents.

+ Excellent track design forces you to learn not only your racing lines, but also where the shortcuts and hidden goodies are. These include new kart parts, stickers and more.

+ Multiplayer options are fun and addictive, and don’t worry there are local multiplayer options as well. There’s your typical battle mode where you go balls to-the-wall with other players, trying to take them all out. There’s also an overhead race mode, which is retro and awesome. These are mainly there to highlight the track editor, and give players an idea of what they can create.

+ Finding new user-generated tracks is easy and simple, and as of this review there are already countless tracks ready for you to test your skills on.

+ Overall the audiovisual presentation is outstanding. This really looks and feels like a LBP game. There’s cardboard cutouts all over the place, and the music is just as upbeat and varied as any of the other games in the series.

The So-So:

+/- Like to use your weapons as often as you get them a la Mario Kart? If so, you’re going to have to change your play style. This is one game where you’re rewarded for playing defensively because at any moment you can go from first to sixth place. Hang on to your weapon, be smart, and before you know it you’ll be in pole position right before the checkered flag. Not everyone will want to play defensively though, and as such will be coming in dead last place.

+/- Move functionality works, but I didn’t find it anywhere as precise as using the standard controller.

The Bad:

– Wacky physics can hinder fun. Sometimes a weapon you use will cause your opponent to spin out of control, while other times virtually nothing happens at all.

The Ugly:

The track editor is extremely powerful, but the tutorial is nothing short of a disappointment…big time. The tutorial is made up of 50 non-interactive instructional videos. The videos take over 90 minutes to watch, which is outrageous as you won’t remember the finer details. I found myself constantly using trial and error to come up with creations that never seemed to be as impressive as I thought they should be.

The Lowdown:

Was LittleBigPlanet Karting really needed instead of something like ModNation Racers 2, probably not. At the same time though, the racing action is fun, and once you learn the ins and outs of the occasionally strange physics system the rest of the pieces all fall in place. The biggest disappointment you will have is with the track editor, but with enough persistence it’s entirely possible to make some outrageous designs. Fun, charming, but not entirely revolutionary. If that sounds fine by you, go pick this one up.

Final Score: 7/10