LittleBigPlanet Karting like most Kart racing games will always be compared to games such as Super Mario Kart, Diddy Kong Racing and in its own home camp, ModNation Racers. That’s a tough set of games to try and topple or at least provide something that adds value in a different way to the genre. Enter LittleBigPlanet Karting which unfortunately lacks the mustard in this hot dog so to speak.
When you begin, you’ll be somewhat shocked to see that you commence in a bare cardboard pod/car with a host of crafty worlds before you. Unlike other Kart racers, you just can’t select the old Mushroom cup and class and start racing. There are basically no cups or tournaments and the way you progress or begin is by playing through a story mode that will unlock various planets and courses for you. Who would have thought a Kart racer could have a story?
As you begin to experience the story, you will unlock many other activities such as traditional circuit races, battle arenas, top down RC events and boss battles. There are also plenty of mini games to unlock as well. Many of the tracks that you race on are laid out quite well and there is a certain amount of polish with these tracks. Yet with other tracks you’d think they slipped through the testing phase with crazy turns and in some cases wildly long straights. You’ll definitely have fun on the tracks with many corners as drifting is certainly part and parcel with a kart racer. Drift it hard, get a speed burst and pull out of the turn fast than your competition is the aim here.
What would a Kart racer be without items to collect? That’s right; you can certainly pick up a host of items that can be used as weapons to take down your foes. Items that can be used vary for example from a Boxing Glove or Fast Forward Button which both propel you forward on the track. Watch out of course for walls as I found these power ups tended to slam me against a wall more than they helped me out. There’s also missiles and other power ups that can assist you, however, you’re also the victim as well to many of these attacks from the AI which is ruthless. I hate being in first place and then have the AI send a missile my way that completely knocks me into last place. There is no defence to any attack; something which I wish could be implemented.
LBP Kart Racing also allows you to customise and build your own carts. You can be as creative as you like here, but unfortunately no matter what you build, all Karts handle and perform the same which is a shame. I would love to be rewarded with a slight speed increase for a well-designed aerodynamic kart as opposed to building a space shuttle on wheels!
Once you’ve had enough of the single player racing, then you may want to jump into some online racing with LittleBigPlanet Kart Racing. There are various online game modes such as Battle Modes where you race around arenas blasting other players and trying to net the most kills. These are already present in the story mode, but they’re more fun against real people locally or online. Also though there is no actual online mode so to speak. In order to race online you need to complete that particular track in story mode first. It’s never explained how “co-operative” racing is different to actual racing, and it’s unclear why this separation was even necessary. By amputating competitive versions of the same track and locking them away, the game immediately makes racing against other players – the bread and butter of the karting sub-genre – a real chore.
The visuals in LBP Karting are certainly colourful with a very large palate of fruity colours splashed about the screen. The game looks great and runs well, however it’s nothing to really write home about.
The sound is quite plausible with the voices of characters and the sounds of screeching tires are well recreated. The music is catchy and feels adequate. Again, it’s nothing that will blow you out of the water, but it’s solid.
A Kart racer usually is an absolute guaranteed value maker, however, aside from the single player modes, and the clumsy online set up, you’ll find yourself getting bored pretty quick. The whole point of what makes Kart racing so fun is playing with your friends and it’s just not something that’s all that easy to do. There is some further value with the Kart creator menu which allows you to build your own ride so to speak which can be fun.
Kart racing should be simple and fun, yet Little Big Planet Karting feels like a miss mash of games such as ModNation and Little Big Planet. LBP Karting struggles to find its own identity here and it shows. The game is ok, but its nothing worth writing home about and with titles such as Mario Kart as your competition, that bar has been set high. As bright and colourful as it is, Little Big Planet Karting is definitely a rental at best.
AAG Score: 5/10
+ Looks Great
+ Decent Story Mode
+ Various Gameplay Modes
– Confusing Online Set-Up
– Underwhelming Kart Customization
– Inbalanced Power-Ups and AI