Ready, set, go-kart! Get ready to race with Sackboy

Drop the fluffy clutch and do some sack circle work as Little Big Planet goes racing.

by

Racing games are a bit like the ice cream of the games industry. They come in a vast array of flavours, and, for the most part, people find and stick to what they like. There's arcade chocolate, simulation strawberry, and the enjoyable, albeit slightly plain, vanilla in-betweens. There's rocky road, the games that focus on destructible environments and adrenalin-pumping action, and the fun, fruity flavours, like banana, for the kids. But even if you love ice cream, no one wants to eat the same single flavour forever.

Little Big Planet Karting's goal is to provide spoonfuls of all the flavours, and let you decide on what you want and when. By providing variety, the development team at United Front Games hopes to avoid many of the pitfalls that racing games suffer from. Instead of offering a set range of car types and drivers, LBPK gives players a seemingly unlimited identikit and garage, where they can create unique and individual vehicles. ModNation Racers offered digital lead-foots the chance to fiddle with the appearance of their character, as well as to create whole new circuits to share with the PlayStation community. The studio has moved on, to take what it believes are the strongest aspects of MNR and fuse them with Little Big Planet DNA. The result is something halfway between the two franchises that still looks like LBP.

The Little Big Planet pod remains the centre of the experience; it's used to change up the look of your sack people, pimp out your ride, and explore and launch tracks to play on. Costumes for karts and characters come complete and in kit form, so you can either throw on a whole new look or adjust it in specific places, such as steering wheels, seats, and different chassis styles. There are tanks, motorbikes with sidecars, Formula 1-style shapes, and more exotic "found art" looks, such as karts made from drinking straws or terracotta pots.

We zoomed around on a few different models, and found that while their appearance gives an indication of how they handle and accelerate--tanks are slow and heavy, and bikes are more nimble and zippy--there doesn't appear to be any stat indicators when making your selection, as you'd find in other arcade racing games. But while this is missing, influences and features from other games in the arcade racing genre are apparent. Item pick-ups provide a range of offensive and defensive weapons and abilities, such as missiles, giant punching gloves, lightning, and rockets, and can be used to obliterate other drivers and help you close the gap when trailing. The further you lag behind the leader, the better your chances of receiving more powerful items to help you catch up for a podium finish.

One of the features to make a direct move from LBP to LBPK is the grappling hook. One circuit of our demo was set on a giant kitchen table, and it featured large holes in the track to swing across. Tapping and holding the shoulder button makes the hook lash out and cling to hanging foam points, and by riding the arc and releasing at the peak of your swing, you can access alternative paths that act like shortcuts.

Battle mode offers a break from straight lap racing, and lets you maim other sack people by using a range of weapons. The large, square space of King's Castle included scattered power-ups, surfaces to hide behind, and a frantic dash for the limited number of items from the start of the round. Our game crowned the first player to earn 10 kills, but, because of the open, editable nature of the LBP universe, players will also be able to create original battle-game types and settings.

Drifting was our biggest hurdle, and we found it easiest going in early and wiggling the stick through the corner before receiving a speed boost on the exit. It takes a moment to earn, so we don't see snaking as being a huge issue in online matches. The three tracks in our demo all shared similar visual and gameplay traits, but given that LBPK is being built around the same user-generated content systems as LBP, you can expect the really interesting creations to come once the community gets its hands on the tools. Unfortunately, because the two platforms powering the games are so vastly different, fans hoping that their ModNation Racers content would be supported in LBPK will be disappointed to hear that this won't be the case.

Good karting games are tuned to the nth degree. The addition of a diverse customisation suite, like the LBP tools, and the fun of ModNation Racers mean that fans won't be stuck with the usual mirror and reverse versions of the same tracks on disc, but we can't shake the feeling that this still feels like a karting expansion pack that could have been offered for LBP. That said, while the inspirations are obvious, we still had fun searching out the racing line, bumping other drivers, and collecting things to make our opponents explode. Little Big Planet Karting will be zooming onto the PlayStation 3 in 2012.

Discussion

49 comments
TheCyborgNinja
TheCyborgNinja

So, basically, throw your copy of ModNation Racers in the trash. It will be redundant.

stokely-
stokely-

The worst thing about MNR was the fact they didn't properly accommodate split screen racing. There was no option to do tournaments/cups like mario kart and going back to the menu to pick a new track after each race not only killed any sense of competition (no points or leaderboard) but was a total pain because of the loading times. Plus on 4 player the cruddy camera angle made it hard to see far in front and in general the screen seemed too cramped.

 

I hope they improve on that stuff, especially the tournaments.

Tauu
Tauu

The original Super Mario Kart and the N64 version are still more fun than modern kart racers.

JIT93
JIT93

What happened to ModNationRacers?

stailcookie
stailcookie

I was of the understanding that mod nation racers was LBP's racing franchise.  Did they realize that they made a mostly not fun racer as part of their track and car building sim and now want to start over?

lmaocarrots
lmaocarrots

I hope it has LittleBigPlanet's endless creativity rather than just a re-skinned ModNationRacers with only moderate creativity.

Elnath10
Elnath10

I want a ModNation Racers 2 rather than this.

Looks great for LBP fans though

KBFloYd
KBFloYd

i wonder if it will come bundled with the PS MOve wheel?

 

cough*

SomePlayaDude
SomePlayaDude

LBP is great when it's a platformer with tons of adventures, tricky challenges, endless outfitting, cute mascots, great customization etc. It was great for all members of the family if you don't mind a good slap.

 

This would be just as good if it's:

 

- Not a copy and is essentially bigger and more accessible than ModNation Racers

- Allows saves through LBP2/1

- technically better (like how MNR has over-long loading)

- No overpowered weapons that can make or break a race

- References from past LBP games (like how the creators in LBP1 are in an asylum in LBP2)

- Customization is simpler

- Less griefing

- Has Sir Stephen Fry as narrator

 

It's a tough list and UFC better realize that since LBP is highly acclaimed, they have a tough act to follow.

franzito
franzito

I've never played a single LBP game. Should I consider this one?

Kos1c
Kos1c

This is what I thought Mod Nation Racers was when I first heard of it. After seeing rough videos of the editor. I thought we were getting a LBP racing, instead of Mod Nation.

I'm glad they gave up that stupid franchise and used a well respect/liked title instead.

 

I'm just really hoping that this game isn't as bad as Mod Nation Racers, because there was a lot of faults with it (AI progressed way to quickly, loading times etc).

blackwingzero
blackwingzero

Looks like a knock off of Modnation Racers if you ask me.

MafiaMusic
MafiaMusic

typical "me too" plan B games from sony. this is sad.

 

SONY is like the chinese knockoff version of gaming.

HonorOfGod
HonorOfGod

ITS AH ME.. MARI..o..oh wait.. wait what the!! SONY did it again! copy and paste they did it to Super smash bros now mario kart but it wont work because SONY is not original and cant make one single character that can onlone be the face of its brand like Nintendo and Mario or Link even Samus. I have a PS3 btw i am just a honest man is all.

packtop
packtop

Soon to be released on the Vita PSMON  version sun and moon gotta catch 'em all!

itchyflop
itchyflop

we ll see !! i wasn't a fan of mod nation racer, sorry but mario kart will never be beaten

BSEE10
BSEE10

Okay... aside from FPS I totally sick of karts right about now.

 

icetone
icetone

modnations will not die

Nezard
Nezard

What was wrong with Modnation Racer? it was a fun game.

Nodashi
Nodashi

Is 4 player split screen confirmed? If so, I'll buy to play when I throw a party. 

Life-is-a-Game
Life-is-a-Game

Looks like its going to be a great game :) .. I will keep it under my radar !!

AdamKAME88
AdamKAME88

Sony is getting solid! I no longer have a xbox and I love it!!!

hsyd
hsyd

 @stokely- glad I didnt have to say it. That was the biggest fail of MNR. Its such a key aspect to kart racing games. If they dont have that option in LBPK then it doesnt matter how good of a game it is; not worth it.

Joedgabe
Joedgabe

 @stailcookie Modnation racers was awesome but felt short on substance. The track editor was really limited like the tracks you created resulted being small and there wasn't no AI editor. However the Racing system IMO was fantastic where it took skill to win rather than luck. This game to me is like ModNation Racers part 2 because it seems to improve in everything and then some. 

mortaniuslok
mortaniuslok

 @franzito yes you should, LBP is a great game that has much to offer and if you infuse it with the geat racing that modnation racers gives... you can have an amazing racing game

Joedgabe
Joedgabe

 @Kos1c Modnation Racers should be a pioneer for modern Kart games. They all have this huge problem which is you can get lucky and win situation. This is reduced greatly with drifting and using the boost shield that Modnation provides. Mario kart should implement that system.. it is after all the most complained thing about mario kart... the blue shell and thunder. No way to avoid those.

Speuj
Speuj

 @Kos1c I really didn't think MNR was really that bad.  I agree, loading times were pretty lame, but as a whole, it was a really solid game.  Hell, it was one of the titles that made me invest in a PS3 to begin with. Although, that might be because I'm absolutely a whore for in-game editors though!  =)

Kos1c
Kos1c

 @blackwingzero I fail to see how SCEA are knocking off their own game?

Since they made Mod Nation Racers and LBP Karting. I just don't understand how improving their first title with a different graphic setup (LBP texture), modes and game play  is knocking off a game that they designed.

Slim_Lyrics
Slim_Lyrics

 @MafiaMusic Its times like this that  i wish they hadn't of gotten rid of the thumbs down option.

Slim_Lyrics
Slim_Lyrics

 @HonorOfGod Just because you own the system doesn't make your remarks unbiased or "honest".  Your remarks stinks of a biasness. This idea that nobody is is allowed to copy an idea and try and improve on it just pisses me off. If Sony likes to copy Nintendo so much you might as well sell your ps3, that's assuming you actually have one, and stick to Nintendo systems since their so perfect. simple as that. I for one am looking forward to this game and seeing how they alter Mario Kart formula.

ArabrockermanX
ArabrockermanX

 @itchyflop I'm gonna wait and try this but something tells me you will be right about this. MNR was almost better but the racing part of the game sucked so bad...