LittleBigPlanet Vita hands-on preview
If we’ve stated it once, we’ve stated it a million times: the PS Vita is in deep water if this fall’s lineup of games fails to deliver. Sony’s high-tech handheld is indeed a fantastic piece of hardware, but hasn’t featured the launch titles to lure gamers past its hefty price tag; that’s why there’s so much emphasis on the rest of 2012. One of these games looking to overturn the Vita’s lackluster year is LittleBigPlanet Vita. We recently had a chance to play through a preview build of the creative platformer and we’re happy to say that it’s already surpassing expectations.
Our preview, which focused heavily on the opening sequences of the game’s story, began with a cute, witty, yet informative cut scene that shaped the entire campaign to come. Apparently, an evil puppeteer has been stealing all the joy from Carnivalia, a place once filled with laughter, prizes, and creepy carnies (okay, maybe not that last one). Shortly thereafter, we were taken through a lengthy tutorial mode that actually acts as a worthy level where you’ll learn the basis of controls, the world around you, and your Sackboy (or Sackgirl if you choose). The tutorial gives players the opportunity to move at their own pace, meaning if you pick up on the Vita’s unique controls, you can bypass all the control hoop-lah. It’s a fantastic introduction that’s friendly to those who can adapt faster to new controls and those who’ll need more time to learn the basics.
The action continues to intensify after your intro level ends; once you’re presented with your first “act” to conquer. LittleBigPlanet Vita wastes no time setting itself apart from past installments by utilizing the Vita’s controls. Before we knew it we were solving puzzles and avoiding sharp objects using the Vita’s touchscreen and back paneled touchpad. Like past titles, these puzzle and platforming sequences are mixed and matched excellently to the point where you’ll never know just what you’ll be up to in the next stage. The gameplay was fluid and the overall experience was LittleBigPlanet-esque: charming, challenging, and incredibly fun.
Impressed by what the story had to offer, we then jumped over to the community section to see what folks were already creating. The LittleBigPlanet franchise has always been synonymous with an enriched, active community, and it seems as though the Vita will be no different. We dove deep into dozens of fan-made levels that ranged from retro Blob platforming to the helicopter mini-game, many of which cater directly to what the Vita can do. Hours and hours can (and will) be put into these community mini-games when the game releases, so if you were worried about a lack of content…don’t be.
Once you’ve had your fun playing these addicting mini-games, you’ll want to create your own for the world to see, right? The Vita’s creative mode is deeper and more accessible than ever before, simply because, once again, the Vita itself creates a whole new canvas for gameplay. Newcomers and hardcore fans alike will have no trouble getting their hands dirty in level creation. One button opens up a menu where you’ll have access to all the tools needed to create, while the Vita’s dual analog sticks make camera angles for object placement easier than ever before. With this mode open to the community, we’re ecstatic to see what fans will come up with to make the title something that every handheld owner should own.
Is LittleBigPlanet Vita the system seller Sony’s aiming it to be? Time will tell. But from our short time invested in the puzzle-platformer, we can certainly say that it’s shaping up to be the system’s best title yet – the “killer app.” The game sticks to the formula that’s made the series popular, while opening the page for gameplay and creativity enhancements that can only be done through the Vita itself. Sackboy is back, and for the Vita, that’s a very fantastic thing to hear.