LittleBigPlanet beta impressions

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We here at TVGB have been lucky enough to shove our way through the hordes of people on the Internet and nab a LittleBigPlanet Beta key without suffering too many injuries. We’re hoping all of you managed to get in as well and relish in the hilarious creativity options that make up LittleBigPlanet. Keep in mind the beta is an old build of the game so when it is released on October 21, 2008 we can expect it to be even more awesome which is hard to imagine.

First off let me just say the story behind the creation of LBP is one that will take you back to the days when sleep was plentiful and the economy wasn’t in the toilet. I’m talking about when we were kids and our imaginations were at their prime. All the options in LBP are made up of all our dreams that float out of our brains and into the sky. Those dreams combine and form what essentially is LBP and home to the Sack people. They need our creative dreams to survive which is sort of a play on the game itself. Without the community involvement, LBP as a whole would just wither away.

The beta starts with a little tutorial narrated by a man who sounds very charming in a royalty kind of way. You guide Sackboy through a stage which serves as opening credits. The people who worked on the game are recognized here in a fashion much like the financial presentation Jack Tretton gave at E3 2008. Trust me, you won’t get through that area without cracking a smile. Afterwards you’re taken to your Pod which serves as a hub to the main story, user created levels, and a moon for storing your own unique levels.

Before jumping into creating things, you have to first go through a few Media Molecule created levels to get the hang of things. The first level is a kingdom complete with a king, queen, and horses. These levels don’t serve as filler either. Throughout the levels are bubbles that contain stickers, objects, shapes, and virtually everything else you need to start creating things on your own. The first half hour or so gets you up to speed with jumping, swinging, and grabbing objects that are the main skills for completing every level. You also learn how to use your poppit which is that magical lasso we’ve seen in videos.

lbp-poppit

Once an item is selected you can move, rotate, and resize it to your heart’s content. You can also make a mirror image of the item so it faces the opposite direction. There are some objects in the level that bare the shape of a sticker that you must have in order to gain more items for your collections. For example there was a wooden cutout of a star that required the star sticker, and a wooden man that needed a shirt, hat, and shoes in order to progress.

So what about those LittleBig emotions? They’re probably the cutest (yes I said cutest) aspect of LBP. Emotions are controlled with the directional pad. Each emotion has three levels that your Sack person will react to. Pressing up means happy, left is scared, right is angry, and down is sad. In addition to the facial expressions, you can also control Sackboy’s arms. The L2 and R2 buttons activate the arms and the left and right analog sticks move the arms around. The Sixaxis controls Sackboy’s head or hips. Just click L3 to switch between the two. You can communicate remarkably well with other players just by using these motions. There was a time where I made it onto a ledge while my partner was trying to swing onto where I was. I encouraged my partner by smiling wide and waving them on. He later got stuck under a number 4 die and I had to pull it off him, but that’s another story.

When the training is complete, you can finally start creating your own stages. There is one catch though. Before creation can begin, you have to go through tutorials so you can learn how to use the vast number of tools. You’ll want to go through these tutorials because there are some features in creation mode that can’t be learned without instruction. Did you know you could connect wires to buttons or explosives, or use loose bolts and glue to make a tie spin around? I sure didn’t, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The customization options are literally endless.

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One downside to the beta is the connection issues when playing with other people. It tends to slow down a bit and even lock up the PS3 on occasion. I wouldn’t worry about the final release because as I said earlier, the beta is an old build of the final product. It’s also a shame that online creation mode won’t be available at launch, but there is so much more to be had initially. LBP is on the right track and I suspect it’s going to be around for a long time.

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