Bringing the 2D world of LittleBigPlanet into the fully-realzed 3D world, LBP Karting is a great effort that has both high and low points.
Developed by United Front Games, who brought the well-received ModNation Racers to the PS3, Karting lacks some of the feel that made previous games in the LBP franchise so popular. Especially of note is the fact that costumes from previous LBP games, sharable across the other games, aren’t compatible with Karting (to be fair, though, United Front Games has announced that they are working on patching in that functionality)
The level design starts out top-notch, and UFG made a great effort to include references to previous games in the LPB franchise, and it’s awesome to race through The Gardens, with a peppier version of the Gardens theme song playing, or roaring through references to the Wedding and Mine levels. Later tracks, however, lack polish and clarity of direction in places; there were multiple times that my racing partner noted confusion about what she was supposed to do.
The game does offer a variety in objectives in story mode, which is a nice way to break up the action. You can race for several tracks, and then you’ll have a melee arena where the only objective is to blast away your opponents as many times as possible within a timelimit. You’ll race some more, and then play a game of King of the Hill, where the objective is to keep a prize away from the other racers while they try to steal it from you.
My fellow gamer, Shana Nissenbaum, who helped me to review the multiplayer component, appreciated the variety. She also really liked that fact that, when she was knocked off the track or was hit by the giant boxing glove, she re-appeared in the center of the track without having to figure out how to get back. She felt that it was “newbie-friendly”.
The Creation tools, however, are not quite so friendly. Having gotten used to the creation and editing tools in the previous LBP games on the PS3, I was surprised to see such rough work. The tutorials are video-only, instead of part tutorial-part hands-on learning. There’s no “auto-populate” feature that will help fill in blank areas of your track with scenery and props, but there is an auto-close option that’ll simply close the loop of your track from wherever you are in the process. The track editing tools feel rushed and tacked-on, which is a shame given how big the “create and share” ethos is in the LittleBigPlanet franchise.
Overall, the game is a decent racer with some oversights and failings. If you enjoy the LittleBigPlanet series, and like kart-racer style games, then you will likely enjoy this. If you’re looking for a deeper customization experience to really make your character and kart your own, or to have a powerful track-creation tool, there are better choices.