There hasn’t’ been much reason for me to use my PS Vita recently. Sure I’d play a few games of Hustle Kings or dabbled in some of my other titles but I never felt compelled to play. The upcoming lineup for the Vita hopes to breath some life into the system and it started off well with LittleBigPlanet (LBP) Vita.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the LBP series on the Playstation. Sure the titles were fun and offered a great amount of value, especially for those creative enough to make and share levels, but it always felt that it was missing something; turns out that something was touch controls. The experience on the Vita fulfilled everything I wanted from the series and found myself yearning to play my Vita once again, dragging it along with me on trips and lunch breaks to get one more fix.
The experience is slightly strange the first time out. Using a combination of the sticks, front touch screen and rear screen can seemingly be a daunting task for anyone reading about the control scheme. Fortunately the developers are good people and mercifully stick to one scheme per level. Some of the later levels use a combination of controls that will really test your skill level to get 100% but you should be used to the controls by that point.
Some of the levels can be plain infuriating because of the insistence to use the various gimmicks features of the Vita. One of the levels solely relies on the rear touch pad and because I have the coordination of a four year old I struggled mightily. It was better after multiple runs but the rear touch bad just plain isn’t intuitive to me for anything except toggling switches.
The game looks beautiful on the Vita screen. Graphics are comparable to the PS3 version although it isn’t exactly Crysis. The various costumes and fabrics that you can assign to your SackBoy/Girl looks great and really seem to pop off the screen when it comes to certain fabrics. Level design is done well for the story pieces with each new level having it’s own motif. Occasionally I’d run into a glitch here or there where my Sackthing would get stuck somewhere but it’s easy enough to press a button and reset back to the last checkpoint.
The story is generally nonsensical and doesn’t coalesce into anything groundbreaking once you finally hit the end but I’d imagine most people aren’t picking up the game for the plot. As a container to expose players to new concepts it does its job wonderfully and I never felt lost or unsure of how to do something. The biggest complaint I’d have about the story is that it is pretty easy, which causes the game to end what felt like somewhat prematurely. I’m sure this was a way to push players into exploring the various community levels but it would have been nice to see more examples of what “experts” of the toolkit could pull off.
Various minigames are tossed in for grabbing keys each level, which were certainly crowd-pleasers when I showed it to other people. Many of them offer a two-player mode, which makes it a good choice for car/train/plane rides with other people to help keep you both entertained. Many of the story levels also allow you to play with someone online but I didn’t have the greatest of experiences with it. I’d either completely fail the matchmaking and nothing would happen or I would be saddled with incredible lag that made playing the game near impossibly during the platforming sections. Recent updates have sped up the matchmaking which helps resolve the first issue but I still experience a ton of lag nearly half of my matches.
The community levels vary, as you would assume. Some people have mastered the toolset and have made wonderful levels worthy of being featured and displayed. Others, such as myself, are completely lacking in imagination and creativity and put out steaming piles of poo for you to jump around in for 6 minutes before reaching a merciful end. Thankfully most of the levels lean more towards the former than the latter and offer a near endless replayability factor to the game.
This still isn’t a game that I’d recommend to everyone, however. Anyone looking for a challenge will be sorely disappointed and wonder where their money went, especially those who don’t have access to the internet to download new levels on a whim. Those who want to build something, to play and create at the same time, will be in love. The toolset has only gotten better from the previous games and allowing you to build using a touchscreen is far more intuitive than with a controller. I’d say it’s akin to using moving from a mouse to a pen tablet for graphics design. Those with children who often use their Vita will also be pleasantly surprised as the game offers enough of a challenge to keep their diminutive clones entertained without getting frustrated.
Endlessly replayable due to community levels, touch controls make building a breeze
A bit on the easy side, not much for those who don't have interest in building or playing community levels