The Little Big Planet franchise did wonders for Sony, with the ever affable Sack Boy capturing the hearts of audiences globally and became one of PS3’s most recognised icons. It not only delivered a solid platforming experience, but also the Play Create & Share catchphrase describing the unique set of LBP tools that enable you to not only play the game but create your own levels/adventures and share them with the global LBP community – essentially allowing an unlimited amount of content. So of course it makes perfect sense to extend the series to the next evolution in Sack-person goodness with none other than a Karting game.
One question that almost immediately popped into my head when I heard about this title was; ‘Where does this leave United Front Games other Karting game ModNation Racers?’ which is also a game that uses the Play Create Share philosophy. It didn’t take long to see the comparisons between the two, where had LBP Karting been developed prior to ModNation Racers then it would easily be the best Karting experience on the PS3 however there are a few factors that are worth consideration.
LBP Karting offers a user friendly experience that anyone who has played the previous LBP games or ModNation Racers will quickly feel at home with. Where ModNation Racers delivers a solid Karting experience, LBP Karting provides a comparable racing familiarity with the addition of a story mode. In both games you can modify your characters, vehicles, create tracks, share and download (although MR provides a lot more detail with vehicles and drivers). The create modes in both games are very similar, where you literally drive your track into existence, add on some terrain, water and a pile of scenery and presto – race away. In fact the easiest way to look at LBPK is as a fusion of ModNation Racers and LBP.
The LBP pod still remains as does the narration, tutorials, characters and often hilarious storymode. Where LBPK falls down in comparison to MR is in some of the finer polish in the Create mode. The MR option of completing your course includes a secondary choice of scenery which makes life a lot easier than with LBPK which still requires you to manually add all the extras. It’s not necessarily a bad thing if you want to cross every ‘T’ and dot the ‘I’s’ yourself but does become a chore if you are short on patience and want to get your design into action quickly.
The gameplay works a treat, much like the many other Karting games on the market it’s simply a matter of manoeuvring around the course, picking up various offensive and defensive weapons and power-ups (including missiles, giant punching gloves and mines), ramming your opponents and fighting it out to the finish line. You can also drift which provides a nice speed boost if you perform it well enough and on some tracks utilise a grappling hook to get across gaps. On top of the normal racing there is also a battle mode where your objective is to take out as many opponents as you can in an arena. Our little Sack person can feel a little sluggish on the track during the long stretches especially if you don’t nail the power-ups.
I managed to get my hands on the new Move Racing Steering Wheel and was surprised at how well it worked. By directly connecting a Move controller into the centre socket, all the controller features you normally have were immediately available at your fingertips. It did take a while to get used to the steering where I often found myself over correcting but general experience was positive. Using the Wheel provided a lot more challenge than the standard controller and I found prolonged play gave my shoulders a workout.
Having ‘mastered’ the single player campaign I then spent some time creating some of my own tracks and uploading to the LBP community. Creation was as I mentioned a fairly simple affair but does require some patience if you are planning on making your design more aesthetic. It is very easy to see that with a bit of time and patience you can create all manner of masterpieces, and once you check out some of the already completed designs online you can get a good idea of what hard work and some creative genius can achieve.
Overall LBPK is a solid investment for any fan of the genre. It was just what I expected from the LBP universe but for me a little too close to what is already available with ModNation Racers. The game in its own right is a good one, just not exceptional, however if you haven’t played MR and like the idea of LBP and Karting then ultimately you can’t go wrong. If I was to choose between the two on which offers a better overall racing experience then MR would take the cake, but it’s the little extras in the LBP world that may make the difference for you. 
Platform: PlayStation 3
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: United Front Games
Players: Single, multi online