LittleBigPlanet Karting Review

by Jake Galouzis Featured

10 Comments 21 Votes 3625 Views 22/11/2012 Back to Reviews

Sackboy races onto the PS3.

LBP Karting Got Right
  • + Fun for the whole family
  • + Level editor is great
  • + Nearly everything can be customised
LBP Karting Got Wrong
  • - Lacks personality
  • - Races get stale quickly
  • - No Vita release
  • - Boring tutorials

Like its recently-released Sony comrade, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, LittleBigPlanet Karting draws similarities to a certain iconic Nintendo counterpart that I’m sure has already popped into your head – but while the basic mechanics may appear the same, LBP Karting offers so much more than what a first glance may presume. It’s a combination of the brilliant minds at Media Molecule (the guys behind LittleBigPlanet and its sequel) and United Front Games, who brought us ModNation Racers. What ensues is a title that possesses the same LittleBigPlanet charm we’ve grown to love, with United Front Games providing a racing and user-generated content focus that fits the series perfectly.

In short, the game's story mode allows the player to travel across various worlds in pursuit of "The Hoard", and reclaim prizes that have been stolen from Craftworld. Upon loading of the game you're given a quick rundown of the game's plot and a tiring, non-interactive tutorial is provided to allow players to grasp the game's mechanics.

In terms of racing, obvious comparisons can be drawn to Nintendo's classic Mario Kart series. While races will more or less play like Sony's answer to the aforementioned franchise, there's quite a few nuances that allow for a different gameplay experience. For starters, goodies and prizes are scattered across levels in story mode, providing an alternative objective in races. You can gather orbs to increase your high score for the level, and each event plays out at a fairly steady pace. Traditional circuit races aren't all you'll face, though. Battle Mode provides a hectic experience where the only objective is to take out as many enemies as possible with the various weapons scattered around the map. You can also partake in GP-inspired contests, where you'll drive around in a first-person view and pull over at pit stops when you're low on power.

Get the Adobe Flash Player to see this video.

On the topic of weapons, they prove more of an annoyance to gameplay, rather than a tactical advantage. The game gives you the option of either firing your weapon and using it offensively, or you can hold onto it and use it to shield incoming attacks from opponents. Theoretically, it sounds like a great idea, but the lack of diversity between pickups (there are very few speed boosts) means you'll have missiles, rockets and all kinds of gadgetry coming at you at a frequency that hinders the flow of play. It can also be difficult to even identify what item you've picked up, due to a simple image on the bottom right hand side of the screen being the only means of identification.

The customisable and creative aspects of LBP Karting are where the game truly shines, though. The LBP series is renowned for its user-generated content and community focus, and LBP Karting is no different. Fans of the series will recognise the pod as the game's main hub, now a huge cardboard spaceship. From here you can choose between characters and an array of outfits for Sackboy, scroll through your unlocked carts, and there's even a vast amount of vanity items such as stickers and general decorations to plaster all over your pod. This isn't some hugely tacked-on, poorly executed idea, either. There are tons of different skin patterns to choose from to coat Sackboy with, as well as various options for eyes, glasses, headwear and so much more. You can even get into the Movember spirit and add an awesome moustache to him. There are literally hundreds of decorations to add to your pod as well, allowing you to personalise your main hub in a multitude of ways.

The ability to create your own tracks and arenas is one of the most fun features in the game and we're sure to see some brilliant efforts pop up online. While it can be a tad counter-intuitive to use at times, it's very simple to create and play your own track. Simply roll the paintbrush around the blank, open world, and possibility is only limited by your imagination. From here you're given a load of options - what sort of terrain you use, respawn points and powerups are all at the touch of your fingertips, and that's only naming a few.

My main gripe with the game though, is that it lacks personality. No sooner than the tutorials begin do you want them to end, and races feel like more of the same as you go on. Though Stephen Fry is back to narrate the story and familiar faces from previous LBP games make an appearance, the cutscenes are purely subtitled and you'll find yourself skipping through most of them. Most of the tracks are forgettable and honestly provide the same few long stretches of driving along with the occasional twist and turn time and time again. Had the imagination that spawned the first two LBP games been implemented in LBP Karting, Sony could have been onto something special here.

The fact that the game isn't seeing a Vita release is also a point of contention. While I'm aware we recently received LittleBigPlanet Vita, a kart racer featuring one of Sony's most popular characters of this generation seems like a fantastic way to promote the handheld and cross-platform play, and is an opportunity missed.

The Final Verdict

IF you're after a light-hearted, family friendly or multiplayer means of fun, LBP Karting is certainly worth the purchase. It's the only game of its kind on Sony's console and while purists won't get a whole lot of enjoyment out of the game besides the level creator, it'll be a hit with kids and LBP fans. If you consider yourself more of a "hardcore" LBP fan, stick to the core titles in the series if you're after an enjoyable storytelling and creative experience.

By Jake Galouzis

LittleBigPlanet Karting

Platform: PS3
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LittleBigPlanet Karting Review Comments

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It's the only game of its kind on Sony's console

what do you mean by that?

As I said in the Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed interview, I'm keen to pick up a kart racer and the one thing that keeps me wanting this is the content creation as it'll increase the variety and longevity of the game. I'm a fan of modnation (been waiting for a sequel) and I'm not sure if you've played that but the offensive/defensive tactics is a play straight out of that game and I didn't find it to excruciating in Modnations. That tends to make me believe that LBPK has overly aggressive AI and deliberate rubber banding. Rubber banding is always the way to keep things close (and a mainstayer in kart games) but you just don't want to see it stick out like a sore thumb :P

Also Modnation had some of the longest wait times and it annoyed the crap out of me, how is it in this?

I've never been a huge fan of Sackboy and the LBP series but I can totally see why it's popular and the whole content creation could probably dispel the lack of unique/fun tracks (after reading this review). I get the feeling that it being LBP, they could have done better and let their imagination go wild. So it's a little disappointing to hear that because F1 Race Stars and Sonic Racing seem to have some pretty fun things going on track wise and are cheaper than LBP Karting.

It's a shame they didn't do a kart racing game for the vita, would have been a great title for cross-play since modracers can be found on the vita.

Ultimately, kart games are always going to be graded against mario kart and fortunately we have games like this on other platforms - Judging by the score and review, it still sounds like a fun game to play.
Kart games are still some of the best games to play with mates/gf for split mode gaming.

punk said:

It's the only game of its kind on Sony's console

what do you mean by that?

I meant it more along the lines of how the game is led by a Sony mascot.

punk said: Also Modnation had some of the longest wait times and it annoyed the crap out of me, how is it in this?

Load times aren't a problem at all, nothing that will have you pulling your hair out.

It's a fun game and like you said, it's great for a bit of multiplayer action, but ultimately it just feels uninspired.
How long until Uncharted Racing? =D
Had a few goes at this and to be honest its fairly dull, shares none of the charm found in LBP plus i'm shocked theres no Vita version...

Ben said: How long until Uncharted Racing?

I'm still waiting for COD Racing *folds arms*
Wow, 7/10 is better than I thought this would be.. I guess the track creation really boosts the games' quality!

Harry said: Wow, 7/10 is better than I thought this would be.. I guess the track creation really boosts the games' quality!

It warranted a 7 from me purely because I'm a huge fan of customisation and creativity, and the level creator is a feature that more racers need to have. It's also a great game for the family/kids and I'm not enough of an elitist to ignore the huge casual market.
very harsh score it is at least a 9-10 as its heaps of fun

gammaray13 said: very harsh score it is at least a 9-10 as its heaps of fun

A 9 or god forbid a 10? [WTF]

Each to their own I guess...
Would you say this is a worth getting to just play as an alternative to Mario Kart? Or should I just stick with Mario Kart Wii until a Wii U version releases?

Beta said:

Ben said: How long until Uncharted Racing?

I'm still waiting for COD Racing *folds arms*

The joke is that both of Naughty Dog's past games have had 3 main titles then a racing game (Crash and Jak).

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