The second in my series of “Most Anticipated Games 2008” posts.
With the advent of the most recent generation of gaming consoles has come a giant leap in our expectations of game developers and their offerings. We expect bigger levels, more impressive graphics, and more open gameplay.
Enter LittleBigPlanet, one of the most hotly anticipated games of this year and number two on my own list of games I must own as soon as it hits the shelf. I have actually asked that the celebration of my own birthday be delayed to coincide with the street date of this game. If that doesn’t tell you how excited I am I don’t know what will.
LittleBigPlanet is a truly original concept: a game built for people want to both play and create their own levels and share them over a network. We’re not talking about your average level builder included in some other games. In this game you can build anything you want and if you see something in another level you want but don’t know how to build, you will have different options on how to obtain that item. This is the epitome of “Game 3.0”.
Gameplay starts out with the base character, affectionately dubbed Sackboy. He looks exactly like he’s knitted out of yarn. The graphics are that good. Don’t believe me? Compare. On the left you see the digital Sackboy, on the right you see a real knitted Sackboy* (which I really want, by the way). Tell me that doesn’t look amazing.
But it doesn’t end there: Sackboy’s got personality. Feel like breaking out in air guitar in the middle of a run? Go right ahead. Feeling blue? Sackboy’s face – and hands – can reflect that. Compared to other games I’ve seen and played, you have an unprecedented amount of control over the character’s personality and appearance in real time. And the game’s not even finished yet. Come on, even the manliest among you can let that fangirl squee out. Nobody’s going to laugh; they’ll all be doing the same thing.
Building your level and building your character use pretty much the same mechanic: a bubble above Sackboy’s head filled with various items and shapes you can use. You can even decide what type of material you want to use to make your items, be it wood, cardboard, sponge, or rock. You can make sizzling hot pits to fry Sackboy to a crisp, electrify items to shock the plucky puppet, or even drop in ice blocks that will instantly encase the little guy in an ice cube if touched. The possibilities are endless.
The different items you can actually build are astounding. From things that just look pretty to items you can actually use, you can create just about anything. And if you can’t figure out how to create it, there are people out there who can and probably will. echochrome, another game that gives players the option to build and share levels, could just be giving us a taste of how much creativity we can look forward to when LittleBigPlanet hits the street.
You can make your level as complex or simple as you’d like. When you’ve finished building it you can take it for a test drive and tweak it before you unleash it on the rest of the world. You make the rules for the levels you build (as long as those rules obey the laws of the physics engine, of course). And if you’ve managed to make something totally awesome you can choose to share it or keep it to yourself (just remember: Sharing is caring).
Now, I’ve never been big on multi-player games, but the brains at Media Molecule have done the impossible: just the idea of playing this with friends is enough to send me into a fangirl squee. This game can be played alone, but its real draw is in the cooperative play. Some levels will be a lot easier to get through if you’ve got some buddies to help with the heavy lifting (literally). This is a very social game and the first game that I’ve been excited about largely because of that social aspect.
I was going to link to more individual videos but when I ran across the Gametrailers LittleBigPlanet site I figured I’d just provide you with the link and let you have at it. I will, however, specifically link to the GDC 2007 demonstration video. It’s 18 minutes long but well worth your time. Also, check out Media Molecule’s blog. They’re the guys responsible for this masterpiece of gaming goodness and there’s no reason you shouldn’t pay them a visit.
Another good resource for LittleBigPlanet is the LiBiPl Blog.
*Real knitted Sackboy by one of the artist’s mothers.