It seems almost customary that during the latter years of a PlayStation console we see a slew of karting games hitting the shelves. With the console at its cheapest and well known brands being able to branch out to a younger demographic, the fact that LittleBigPlanet was being melded into a karting series was almost a given conclusion. The question is, can the developer behind the ModNation series improve on their previous efforts and create something new and entertaining?
LittleBigPlanet Karting is presented with the classic look we have all come to know and love, the "Pod" is back and still allows for customization, and getting a party of friends (up to 4 players split screen) ready to play the game. There are a variety of vehicles types to choose from, but there doesn't appear to be any real difference between vehicles in terms of speed. There are also some points where you have to use a certain vehicle type depending on the level. Unlike ModNation Racers, the menu system is not an explorable 3D space, but is akin to the standard LittleBigPlanet layout which I find is a great relief as it makes jumping around levels/worlds much quicker and easier.
Any kart racer worth its salt has to have some cool and interesting weapons and power-ups, and sadly LittleBigPlanet Karting lacks any imagination in this regard. Everything in here you have seen before, and weapons that solely attack the player in first place can become incredibly frustrating when you have kept the lead for all three laps, and then get taken down by a hail of rockets from the opposition at the most inopportune times. To make things worse, once you have a rocket locked onto you, there is only one way to save yourself, fire your weapon back at it with perfect timing. You can't out-manuever or even equip a shield, so you're almost definitely going to get hit. Drifting, another standard feature is also present as are simply spin tricks in the air to obtain boost when you land.
As with all these types of games, there are several different race types such as the standard race, checkpoint race, arena deathmatch etc. For all those concerned LittleBigPlanet Karting does have a story line, a fairly loose one I might add, but nevertheless it is present. A new enemy named the "Hoard" are the main antagonists and live by the opposite mantra of Play, Create, Share that Sackboy and the series as a whole is driven by. The Hoard wish to keep everything to themselves, as they are hoarders. The Hoard look very similar to the Sackboys, although they have been designed to look a little corrupted. They will also be your main opponents in each race.
LittleBigPlanet Karting looks absolutely great. It really does look like the world of LittleBigPlanet and scattered around the environments are objects that you have come to know and love from the series. Customization is very simple compared to ModNation Racers, but you can make your Sackboy look unique as you have been able to before. There graphics are very sharp throughout the game, however there are aliasing issues when you try and play the game in split-screen mode. This is most likely done so that the frame rate isn't affected, but it's an issue nonetheless.
Each world contains several main racing levels and a large amount of mini-games, each with its own distinctive style. At first these mini-games are fairly simple and unimaginative, but as you progress through the story they get much better. We also found that the story mode characters are not fully voiced, and the characters use gobbledygook speech, although I could make out some regional accents. You may think that having to play the entire story to get to the best levels is annoying, however, the single player is very short, and you could complete it in one session. This is of course if you don't play too many of the mini-games and are not bothered about collecting every little item..