The controls are floaty. The online servers are borked. Some of the levels are irritating devolutions into repetitive death cycles. But I am more excited about LittleBigPlanet than almost anything else in 2008 to date.
What makes this game so amazing is that the pre-built levels have all been designed using the same suite of tools that you now have at your disposal. That's killer. You go through these levels looking for inspiration, not just to complete it because it's a video game and that's what you do. You see an intricate series of switches and triggers and you know that, given the time and patience and brainwork, you can make that too.
After being in the beta, I wondered if my enthusiasm for the launch day pickup would be lessened. Because I've already seen the game in action. But as I headed out of Best Buy, I still felt that natural high that I get when I'm picking up a new game. I was still hyped. Hyped to see what wasn't in the beta, what costumes and stickers I'd find, what the rest of the story mode would deliver.
Although the Best Buy pickup was not without incident. I saw lots of PS3 friends playing the game Saturday, so I called Best Buy on Sunday to see if they were selling it. They weren't. I called again on Monday... and I was on hold for twenty minutes while they decided if they had the game or not. Twenty minutes. It took twenty minutes and a crack team of three Best Buy employees to locate LittleBigPlanet on a Monday afternoon. Unbelievable.
Put that on top of my Rock Band 2 experience - where I amble in on a Tuesday and find NO RB2 software anywhere. RB2 bundles? Sure, those are stacked over by the display. But in the game case they still had a hundred preorder packs piled on top of each other. I had to track down an employee over at customer service to find my preordered Rock Band 2 game-only edition.
I doubt I'll be going out of my way to preorder at Best Buy anytime soon. I only preordered RB2 and LBP through Best Buy to get the bonuses anyway.
So now I'm going through the story mode... which I actually prefer to do without online partners so I can take my time and examine the exposed bits and bobs of level design. I don't know what I want to make, but I know I want to make something awesome.
Once the online servers fizzed back to life after the initial failures, I easily found my beta level, a western adventure called Doomtown 0.5a. I want to scan in some Doomtown card artwork and make the level really Doomtowny. Because right now the only Doomtown elements are a sign that says "GHOST ROCK" and an appearance by the demon Knicknevin.
I hope they start tossing all kinds of DLC out for this one. They should go the Rock Band route and have something every week. I know they're already planning $1 Sackboy outfits... and $2 premium costumes based on licensed characters (like Old Snake!!!!). If they dropped a pair of those a week, plus monthly sticker packs and element bundles... they could guarantee that no two LBP players would end up with the same game. And there's something insanely cool about how that will expand the environment.
However I can see how LBP may not be for everyone. If you're not interested in making your own levels, that's a major negative. I guess you could always blow through the story mode and entertain yourself by browsing other peoples' custom levels... but if you're not at least dabbling in the level editor, you're kinda missing the point. This is far and away the best video game editing device I've ever experienced. It is not hard to create playable levels... but it is a heapin' challenge to create awesome ones.
Because that's what so incredible. You can do what you see. Imagine blasting through a classic Mario world and being able to rearrange the pieces, add in your own, create your own baddies and bosses... that's what this is like.
Here's hoping Sony sees a big sales uptick due to LittleBigPlanet, because they sure as hell deserve it.