Little Big Planet Karting seems to be fulfilling its Sony franchise destiny. By that I mean that all Sony platform mascots seem to need a karting game towards the end of a console cycle – see Crash Bandicoot for details!
In this case the Little Big Planet series created by Media Molecule is having the karting once over from United Front Games – they of Modnation Racers and Sleeping Dogs fame.
United Front are keen to stress that Little Big Planet Karting is not just a re-skinned Modnation racers staring Sackboy. It will offer new karting mode, a more expansive track and world editor, Battle Mode, Waypoint Arena and a newly built engine.
So, United Front having worked on a reasonably successful kart title previously, you’d think that Little Big Planet Karting would be a sure fire hit melding the Modnation karting to the Little Big Planet franchise. Life’s funny like that thought and things don’ always equal or better the sum of thei r parts.
Within a few moments of picking up the controller and zooming off as Sackboy (there were only limited characters on offer for the work in progress build) you realise something is more than a little “off” with the game. The turn of speed just doesn’t feel right, the kart feels sluggish and unresponsive, the jump button appears to be delayed and the whole experience just leaves you underwhelmed. Next up you attempt to put some spice back in to the game with the weapons on offer (rockets, lightning bolts etc) only to find they too are more than a little underwhelming.
Next up is the look of the game. Sackboy is still one of the finest mascot creations since the early days of the PS1 era and he still looks and animates well in this. Other characters too look good and animate well. The world in general is a little more lacklustre though and it all feels a little drab and empty. Married to the slow paced feel of the carting and it all starts to feel a bit of a bust in the looks department.
Apart from the sluggish nature of the controls and the lacklustre turn of speed the game actually plays reasonably well. The section I was playing was an arena based scenario and it was reasonably well populated and adequately frantic for such a scenario.
What really strikes you here is just how “adequate” the whole thing feels. Nothing to wow you, nothing feels particularly exciting – it just feels sedentary and safe. That said this build did have “Word in Progress” plastered all over it so I’m thinking this is an early representation of the LBP Karting and won’t represent the final product – at least I hope not.
United Front Games are clearly capable of great things. Sleeping Dogs was a massive failure waiting to happen in so many people’s eyes and they pulled it off with a gorgeous looking and very interesting title. I can just hope that LBP Karting is a little off its game at the moment because so much was poured in to Sleeping Dogs. Now that title has shipped the whole team will hopefully be giving 100% on this to polish it before release.
Little Big Planet Karting will release for the PS3 on 11/06/12 (US), 07/11/12 (AUS) and 09/11/12 (UK).