Thursday, October 1, 2009

Little Big Planet

Just picked this up last week and…Woohoo! What a cool little (big) game!

Yes, I'm a year behind the times, but I didn't actually expect to like it at all given that: a) I've never found physics based puzzle games all that fun, and b) I'd seen it an expo when it first came out and thought it looked pretty ugly.

But now that it's hit the bargain bins, I decided to give it a blast, and I'm very glad I did.

First impressions: It's a very 'English' game: the voice-over is very similar to that used in Hitch-hikers-guide-to-the-galaxy, and I think I even recognized some music from the excellent 70's TV show 'Vision-On' in there. It's actually nice to see a game 'projecting' personality like this.

Second impressions: It's simple, but fun. There is a lot of variety in the environments/graphics, and the designers have managed to come up with a very impressive number of ways to reuse the physics elements - yet they haven't 'overcooked' the puzzles: they're generally short and to the point.

Third impressions: I was totally wrong about the graphics, they're excellent! I think I may have been put off a little by the 'sack doll' player character. In default mode, he looks a little too much like the 'maggot monster' in 'nightmare before Halloween' for my liking - just a little bit creepy. But he does grow on you and you can customize him massively (I'm currently in soothing magical girl mode!). Ultimately, I think the realistic graphics complement the realistic physics beautifully.

Fourth impressions (about a week later): It's still simple, but still fun! OK, I've probably only put 5 or 6 hours into it so far, but that's damned good for me!

Minor grumbles: A fraction too much inertia on the player for my liking; sometimes you can't see where you'd like to and there's no manual camera (although 'leaps of faith' are seldom punished); while it's primarily a 2D game, there are in fact 3 'layers', and it can sometimes be hard to work out which layer you're on - worse, the game sometimes automatically moves you to a different layer, every now and then with fatal results (but this is probably worth it, as it also increases the speed at which you can whizz around levels).

I haven't played around much with the game creation stuff yet, but it looks pretty impressive and was apparently used to create ALL the in game levels. The online user maps are less impressive, but again I haven't looked too closely at these. More later…

Peace out!