Sackful of potential.
Welcome back to the wonderfully charming world of Sackboy, a world full of possibilities where the imagination runs wild and can be your best friend or your most fiendish challenger…
This is just an impression of the Beta for Little Big Planet that’s being run for the PlayStation Vita at the moment. It’s not completely baked yet, but a lot of the games’ features are in place and usable. There aren’t many “official” levels, but the level creation kit is active and so is the community that love it so.
And thanks to the lifting of the NDA I can now talk about what I’ve been playing for the last couple of weeks.
LBP has been a staple for many PS3 owners for a long time now, with fans still churning out levels and customising their little companion. What greets you on the Vita is the same sort of setup from the PS3 version, you’ve got your Pod which you can customise and the 3 planets to choose from – Story, Community and My Levels – so far so much the same.
When I say “the same” I’m not just talking about the planet choice, the visuals and presentation are fabulous for a handheld! The graphical quality is on a par with the PS3. All the textures are detailed and full of depth, the colours are vibrant when they need to be and suitably deep to draw you into the dark sections, all of them however look superb on the Vita’s OLED screen.
The audio is still charmingly appropriate with the little cues and background music accompanying your little sacky companion on his quest for stickers and bubbles. Again, no discernible change in quality from the PS3 version.
Now here’s the big deal – the control scheme…
See that extra analogue stick on the right hand side of the Vita? That’s what makes the difference for starters. The PSP version of LBP was good fun, but it was always the poorer hobbled version of it’s PS3 based older brother. Here on the Vita I can actually see the handheld version taking precedence over the PS3 version for many fans.
Admittedly you’re missing the extra trigger buttons, but that’s soon forgotten about when you take into account the touchscreen interface of the PSV. This is the bit that makes so much sense for LBP and seems so natural from the first time you encounter touchable material in the levels. Poking platforms out of the environment using the rear touchpad and moving blocks and platforms around via the front screen is brilliant and fits perfectly with the overall package being offered. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that this is the sort of interaction that LBP needed, especially when it comes to level creation.
This is always the area of the game I struggled with, but the use of the touch interface makes it much more intuitive than restricting your creative urges to the control sticks. All the menus work with the touchscreen, so swiping and tapping to select what you want is yours if you want too. Placing items in the blank canvas worlds is the big one though, no more careful nudging of sticks to get the positioning just right, just point to where you want it to go.
The mechanics presented to us in the beta are, from my experience, flawless. They could release them now and no one would complain. What I’m looking forward to is seeing the carefully crafted areas that developers Double Eleven Studios have in store for us when the game is finally released in September.
And once that happens and the creativity of the community gets it’s inventive paws on the tools as well, well the sky’s the limit… especially when you can use the Vita’s cameras to take pictures and turn them into stickers. Yes, you could do that with the camera for the PS3, but that was tied to your system at home, this you can take out into the big wide world.
This is the game the Vita is crying out for (as well as Vita owners) and so far it’s shaping up very nicely. Finally, the Vita’s “system seller” title is on the horizon, and the view in front is very very good.