Nega-review: LittleBigPlanet

"Sony's game falls short of perfection, in large part because of imprecise controls." (1) "[They] left a few corners on what should have been a razor-sharp control scheme." (3) "Your Sackboy's jumping doesn't feel quite as precise as you might want it to be." (6) "After making a jump, Sackboy slides just a bit, as if he were on ice." (1) "We found ourselves forever overdoing jumps, slipping off ledges and generally getting into trouble at the hands of the controls." (6)

"Momentum is another issue. ... the physics don't feel right, so it takes more tries than necessary to complete the objective." (1) "Player acceleration (and perhaps deceleration) isn't as quick as it could be ... likewise, in-air direction change can be a little iffy at times ... making your character occasionally over or under-respond to what you want him to do." (3) "Combined with the vague, slow and over-zealously auto-corrected movement between the game's three planes of depth, it's a problem." (2)

To put it mildly, "the controls were a little fickle when it came to moving your character among the three planes of perspective." (8) "The three-tier system the levels use, allowing Sackboy to move in and out of the screen.... can cause real problems, ending in annoying and occasionally infuriating death." (6) "It works fine except when the game decides to shift you to another plane, which often kills Sackboy." (1) "There are instances where it doesn't do what you want it to do, and these points stick out like a sore thumb, especially when it means your death." (3) "I ... found myself getting ... frustrated as Sackboy found himself on the wrong plane, repeatedly, sometimes resulting in his untimely demise." (7)

"This is made all the worse by what can only be described as a terrible checkpoint system." (6) "Three lives just aren't enough for some of the harder sections, and if you lose them all, it's back to the start of the level. ... this inflexible system creates half a dozen choke points of almost unbearable, teeth-grinding irritation that simply didn't need to be there." (2) "It tests your patience to near breaking point." (6)
"Most of the [built-in Story Mode] levels are short" (1) and "it won't take you long to beat the 20 or so levels." (6) "The quality isn't totally consistent -- the game drags a little in the finicky and generic Mexican section, about halfway through." (2) "We ... wish developer Media Molecule spent more time on the actual story. Although we ran into numerous characters, they lack personality ... it makes Story Mode feel like a simple world tour instead of a Mario or Sonic the Hedgehog style adventure." (1) "The story doesn't really make a whole lot of sense throughout the game... [it] just sort of ends and then encourages you to go and make your own levels." (3)

As for the multiplayer mode, "we actually found it to be a little overcrowded at times." (4) "We found that the sections that required millimeter perfect jumps to be nigh-on unplayable with friends, down to the way the camera shifts about and has a tendency to focus on the wrong part of the action." (6) "When four of you occupy the same space it's often harder to negotiate platforming sections, and keep track of which Sackboy you're controlling. Some sections, even, are near impossible for all four of you to survive." (4)

"The promise that anyone could create something simple and fun and personal with LittleBigPlanet hasn't come true." (2) "Designing levels takes a lot of patience and a simple understanding of physics, especially if you intend to make something good. Figuring out how to make switches, trap doors and other complex devices takes lots of thought, thus pushing what should be a game for all ages into the teenage/adult category." (1) "As much as Sony might market LittleBigPlanet as a game for everyone, this aspect isn't going to get much love from your non-gaming partner, mother or little sister." (6) A hefty percentage of the game's player base will find half of its features exhausting." (5) "It can all be a little overwhelming and slightly intimidating." (9)

"The level creation tools have been made almost entirely for the hardcore to get hold of." (6) "It is simply the case that many players just won't want to put in the hours necessary to make passable content of their own." (7) "This isn't a tool for everyone. If you have no artistic flair you're not going to be able to create great levels - and Media Molecule has excluded features like using digital camera snaps ... and user-generated audio that would have pleased more casual creators." (6) "The creation, as it stands, isn't going to involve the majority of players of the game. ... It locks the majority out of the creative process, because it's time-consuming and simply not very enjoyable." (2)

"Few players will reach the upper limits of the Create meter," (5) because "it's still really quite hard to make things." (2) "Since the level is always active when not paused, you can find yourself having to pick up and reset pieces of your level." (3) "The editor badly needs some kind of overview feature to let you zip between the parts of larger creations," (5) " the three planes of action add a fiddly layer of organizational complexity in themselves," (2) and "the absence of mouse support is keenly felt at times." (5)

As for the content created by other players, "most of it sucks (sorry, it does)." (1) "The levels uploaded to the beta servers are principally instant-gratification affairs," (5) and "in reality, deep and rewarding gameplay will only feature in a tiny percentage of levels." (2) "A large number [of the levels] will be terrible and you'll only finish a handful." (6) "I'm also a little worried that the online network will be filled with a bunch of crap levels and you'll have to dig through a mountain of garbage to find the one level that's actually worth playing." (8)

Welcome back, Sackboys and Sackgirls, to the Joystiq Nega-review. As always, this review takes the small negative bits from a variety of overly positive reviews and combines them into an overly devastating whole. This isn't meant as a serious critical look at a game, but rather as a counterpoint to what might seem like overly-effusive game for a game that isn't perfect (and no game is).

The most interesting part of this Nega-review, in my view, is the complexity of the level creator. Many reviewers downgraded the editor for being too hard to use while, in almost the same breath, they praised its flexibility and wide-ranging of content for experts to unlock. While some reviewers noted this contradiction, others were seemingly oblivious, wanting an editor that was both simple and deep. Just goes to show you what happens when you raise expectations for a game too high before its release.

(1) GameDaily
(2) EuroGamer
(3) IGN
(4) CVG
(5) Kikizo
(6) VideoGamer
(8) GamePro
(9) TotalVideoGames

This article was originally published on Joystiq.