Players: 1 to 4 Player Game | Genre: Platform
In the next-generation of gaming, Sony has a goal in mind. This goal is to create tools to give users the ability to make their own worlds, change the way they play their games, interact with each other, share information, and do it all from a free online interface via the PlayStation 3. This is their Game 3.0 vision. At GDC 2007, Sony's Phil Harrison gave two examples of how Game 3.0 would change the world of videogames and make PlayStation 3 the most exciting console in the world. The first example is one we have covered already. It is the new online interface for PS3 that will be available, for free, this fall known as Home. The other stunning example shown at GXC 07 is a game from a newly formed Developer called LittleBigPlanet.
Media Molecule, who formerly made Rag Doll Kung Fu in the last generation, got funding together to make the new company from Sony. Many of the guys from Media Molecule all came from Lionhead Studios. With Lionhead's history with Microsoft, and the fact that MS purchased them, they could have gone to MS for help funding the company. However, they chose to stay seek funding through Sony. As you could imagine, Sony was more than happy to open up their check books to help ensure this fine company was properly funded. The results of this should turn into a great new Second Party relationship with Sony that could generate many exceptional hits.
LittleBigPlanet is the first title from Media Molecule and the demo shown at GDC began with a single room and two stuffed animal like characters standing with their faces and bodies towards the screen. It is from here that the Developers demoing the game brought up a series of menus that appeared above their two characters heads. The interface that appeared was very similar to the cross media bar and included all sorts of items and elements that the player could use to drop in the world. The first thing that was dropped in the world was a piece of wood and then a spinning wheel. After an item was in the world, the player could then interact with the object using the built in physics.
Stickers can also be placed anywhere on the game world or on any object. Stickers are simply images that are on your PlayStation 3 hard drive. This means that it is possible to include almost any type of image in the game--on walls or on any object. For those of you with an Eye Toy camera, you can also take pictures using the device too!
This was just a sample of what LittleBigPlanet is though. As the demo continued, Phil Harrison, another Sony employee, and the two Developers from Media Molecule moved to the right where a big "START" sign stood and they began playing a level that was previously created using the tools found from within the game.
For starters, players will be able to customize their primary character with a variety of costumes or by utilizing any of the tools from within the game. For example, you can place a flower on your head and it still stay there and bounce around as you move your character.
The gameplay in LittleBigPlanet appears to be primarily platform style. You will move around the level trying to get through any puzzle and collecting the resources. In this particular level it was sponges that you were attempting to collect. While it is possible to play through this level alone, it is a lot more fun with more than one person. In fact, some of the puzzles are not very easy unless you have others helping you. For example, at one point players had to pull down a branch so everyone could jump up. Their weight then allowed the one holding the branch to get on. Later in the level, you have to take a rocket pack and work together to carry a heavy rock to a bucket in order to raise a closed door.
Another interesting element of LittleBigPlanet is that at any point a player can open up their menu and begin modifying the world around them. This should allow for some fun with levels that players download after the final product ships.
Sony promises that the final product will allow for players to very easily upload their levels, find other user created levels, interact with users, leave messages and comments for others, and create a YouTube like community on the PlayStation 3. This portion of the demo was shown in video so we can't confirm if it is working at this time. However, if Sony and Media Molecule can pull it off, this should make for one popular title.
While the actual game portion of the demo was only about 5 to 10 minutes in length to beat, the creativity of the world and how easy it is to put a level together makes it really stand out. If this is a sign of things to come from PlayStation 3, then you better believe that Sony will soon find themselves on top of the videogame mountain once again sitting on their throne. Look for a downloadable version of LittleBigPlanet from the PlayStation Store later this year. The most popular levels created by users and more content will be found on a retail disk that will ship in 2008 Stay tuned for more details on this very exciting new title!