Hands-on with LittleBigPlanet on PS Vita
The whole world's in your hands
The most striking thing the beta build of LittleBigPlanet on Vita is just how well the team behind it has captured the full home console experience.
LittleBigPlanet for PSP was an incredibly impressive feat of design, cramming a goodly proportion of the PS3 game onto a machine barely more powerful than toaster. But the forthcoming Vita title is shaping up to be a no-compromise entry in the series.Play
For one thing, it's looking gorgeous. Light sources react realistically to your Sack Person toddling past them, and textures appear tactile as you reach out and physically move many of them with a swipe of the touchscreen.
Though we're yet to hear a song that perfectly gels with the exuberant happiness of the game (in the way that 'Atlas' by Battles did) the aural landscape is nonetheless a delight on the ears.
As you hop from platform to platform or use the grapple gun to rappel through areas or swing over hazards, the unrelenting cheeriness of the series is always evident in the design and presentation.
And, yes, your Sack People still have floaty controls. This element of the game's fundamental structure may turn you off if you're looking for a Rayman Origins level of precision, but moving about is simple with the left analogue stick.
There are touch controls, too, though they're not simply tacked-on gimmicks - they're fundamental to the gameplay. You'll tap blocks to move them into the background and provide safety from lasers, and move certain platforms closer to you with your finger to make new areas accessible.
The touchscreen functionality is sewn into the fabric of Sack Boy's adventure and adds a further layer for creative types to explore with their own levels.Create
The toolset with which to make them is much expanded, and not not just with options to integrate touchscreen gestures into levels. Taking a leaf out of LittleBigPlanet 2's book, the level editor lets you make entirely new types of game.
Included in the version we tried was a top-down twin-stick tank combat game, and Tapling - an entirely touch-based puzzle-platformer. They couldn't have been more different in gameplay, but both showed a glimpse into what might be achieved when the community get their hands on the full game.
Getting rough ideas from your brain to the screen is also far more simple, as you can put objects into the gameworld by tapping the screen and create geometrical shapes with your finger.
Menus feel a little cluttered, and if you really want to make something impressive you'll need to revert to traditional controls, but it's a step in the right direction to encourage people to contribute their own levels.Share
Here's where things get really exciting. Sure the PSP version of LittleBigPlanet had level-sharing, but in retrospect it was a bit stiff and slow. The Vita version is much slicker, everything is a lot faster to access, tools to comment and appraise levels are a tap away, and - from what Sony's showing so far - finding the best content is far quicker and easier.
Unlike on the PSP, this outing also features multiplayer for up to four. Gadding about with friends is still the best way to play, working together to solve puzzles and competing for the best scores in competitive games.
Unfortunately, the multiplayer can be a bit laggy. The time your character takes to react to inputs becomes noticeably longer, and touchscreen interactions sometimes fail to register. But this is a beta - there's plenty of time for it to be refined for launch.
LittleBigPlanet has been part of Sony's marketing push for the Vita since it first unveiled the console, as a demonstration of how home console experiences can be had and even improved upon on this portable.
As long as the multiplayer issues are gone by the time it launches later this year, it won't disappoint.