The Five: LittleBigPlanet
The 10-Cent Tour: LittleBigPlanet is a game design tool, a social network and a traditional platforming game in one big, beautiful package. Just how well do all these elements come together?
1. Robust customization is cool, but if the game's not fun to play, all those tweaks are meaningless. LittleBigPlanet is genuinely fun -- especially when you're playing with friends. Players can slap and drag each other if they're feeling sassy. It's not all about screwing up your buddy's day, either. Players can grab onto and dangle from their friends' feet or hook onto the same vine and start swinging in unison to gain more momentum.
2. You don't need to be creative to enjoy LittleBigPlanet. Some might find the robust set of customization tools a little daunting. They're easy to use, but making a massive level is still a time-consuming project. That's okay, though. The game comes with a pile of prefabricated levels made by Media Molecule. The community will provide a ton more soon after launch.
3. LittleBigPlanet features one of the best moderation tools I've ever seen. If you're playing a level and see something inappropriate, you can file a report at the touch of a button. This instantly takes a screenshot of the offending filth and pipes an exact, detailed report to Media Molecule so they can see exactly what the naughty player was up to.
4. The game isn't just a high-definition Super Mario Bros. clone. Imaginative creators have already come up with nifty levels that have little to do with collecting coins and getting from point "A" to point "B." Media Molecule co-founder Alex Evans showed Crispy Gamer a level that acted as a music sequencer -- when the player moved across the level he triggered proximity-sensitive speakers that played different notes and drum beats. Simply cruising to the right played a song. Heading back the other way made it go backwards.
5. There are three ways to play. You get ranked depending on your behaviors in three categories: "Play," "Create" and "Share." Player profiles will offer an easy-to-read snapshot of a these tendencies, better helping you find like-minded players online. Trophies will be rewarded for reaching goals in each of these areas as well.
The Crispy Forecast: Who needs weathermen when you can make your own weather? The great potential of LittleBigPlanet lies in the creativity of the gaming community. Let's get those penis-based levels out of our system early and try to raise the bar.
This preview is based on a hands-on demo of the game and a developer presentation at E3.