Review: LittleBigPlanet Karting is about much more than just racing
At it's core, LittleBigPlanet Karting is no different than any other kart racing game. You pick a track, or in this case a planet, and race against AI controlled opponents or other players. Of course, that's not what LittleBigPlanet is about; it's about so much more than just that. LittleBigPlanet has always been based on the concept of Play, Create, Share, and it's this aspect of LittleBigPlanet Karting where the game truly shines.
A single-player story does exist, though it serves mostly as an introduction to the massive universe that LittleBigPlanet Karting eventually allows for. It starts off by asking you what you imagine when you're behind the wheel, stuck in traffic. As the game suggests, it's likely you, in a race kart, burning rubber and blasting opponents as they attempt to pass you. Who doesn't dream of that? Whether or not that's true doesn't matter, but it does serve as a nice setup for the adventure you'll soon partake in.
The story has you travel to several different planets and race against groups of Hoarders that want nothing else, but to collect all of the creative goodies for themselves. It's important to remember, however, that you aren't playing the single-player mode for the story. Rather, you're playing it as a taste of things to come.
As I mentioned, LittleBigPlanet has always been a franchise based on the simple concept of creation so it should come at no surprise that the primary content for LittleBigPlanet Karting revolves around collecting goodies, creating tracks, and sharing those tracks with others from around the world.
If it sounds familiar, that's because we've already seen something similar to this in ModNation Racers, an off-brand racer from United Front Games who also so happened to develop LittleBigPlanet Karting. While you'll notice similarities, particularly with the track editor, there's a certain whimsical charm about LittleBigPlanet that makes it fun to experience each individual map, no matter how generic the racing gameplay may be.
The individual worlds you'll travel to are filled with charm and creativity. From the design to the musical score, each track offers something unique and memorable. More importantly, it makes you want to enter the track editor and see the type of stuff you can come up with; but more on that later.
Racing in the single-player story mode will unlock bags of goodies, like additional skins, character customization items, and decorations to spruce up your future custom race tracks. If you want all the fun decorations, you'll have to play this mode. Gameplay in LittleBigPlanet Karting is fairly similar to that of other kart racing games. You have your standard racing maps mixed in alternative karting modes like waypoint races, treasure hunts, score attacks.
United Front Games does change traditional racing gameplay up a bit by removing the rubber band AI as seen in some other racing games. Rather than punish the player in the lead, LittleBigPlanet Karting gives them a fighting chance by giving them the opportunity to block incoming attacks. As long as you have a weapon in your arsenal, you can block an incoming attack. You still have some typical racing features like drifting or performing stunts in air which reward you with a temporary speed boost.
The best part of the single-player story,however, is seeing all the variety in the types of worlds that are at your fingertips. Let's just hope you're fingertips are on the same page as the game developers. The character/kart customization is clumped together in a somewhat cluttered menu, but even more confusing is the actual track builder and editor. If you're not familiar with ModNation already then you are in for a frustrating time. There's plenty of customization options to choose from, but getting your artistic vision into the game is a whole other process.
The process required to create a track is quite complicated so while LittleBigPlanet gives off the appearance of being, perhaps, child friendly, it is anything but that. There are tutorials, but you'll need to exit the editor and watch a series of non-interactive videos. To lay track you simply drive in the shape, but you'll need to personally place each and every item that you want on your track, making for a long a tedious process. Also, if you're unfamiliar with editors it's easy to get lost in the grand scheme of your creation; I suggest newcomers start small and work their way up to more complex designs.
LittleBigPlanet Karting, for the most part, is a very straightforward game. It's one that matches it's slogan; you play, you create, and you share. Getting to that point can be frustrating along the way as you learn the somewhat awkward navigation and control schemes of the editor, but when you do get to see your creations shared with the world it's quite an exhilarating feeling.
Perhaps you're not the creative type, however. For those simply looking for nothing more than a fun karting game, there's still plenty LittleBigPlanet Karting has to offer. Since it's so easy for others to share their creations, the possibilities of new maps and replay value are endless. Of course, this does ultimately rely on the community participation.
In the end, LittleBigPlanet Karting is a game that plays like most other kart racing titles, but offers plenty more in terms of customization. Possibilities aren't completely endless as you still must adhere to the LittleBigPlanet universe, but there's still plenty of options to choose from. Creating things in the game isn't as simple as I'd like it to be and that could hurt the game when it comes to community participation, but when it's all said and done, LittleBigPlanet Karting definitely has potential. Whether or not we get the dedicated community to create those fantastic tracks to experience the endless possibilities remains to be seen.