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LittleBigPlanet Vita preview: a touch of greatness

by Andrew Yoon, shacknews.com, Aug 8, 2012 2:00PM PDT

My initial reaction to LittleBigPlanet for Vita was mixed. However, playing a more complete preview build has made me reassess the game. In fact, the Vita version may be the best title in the franchise so far.

Every aspect of the game has been improved since E3. For example, the Vita game may be the first in the franchise where the Story mode is interesting. Taking place on the planet Carnivalia, Sackboy must defeat the Puppeteer and his frightening Hollows. The addition of NPC voice acting, coupled with the cinematic tools imported from LittleBigPlanet 2, make the story far more engaging.

The visuals are also a delight. It's really impressive to see many of the special effects (particularly lighting) from LittleBigPlanet 2 successfully translated to a handheld system. But even more than the tech, the art style must also be applauded. Every environment is so incredibly stylized, and it showcases the engine's versatility quite a bit.

I'm still not a big fan of many of the Vita-exclusive controls. While some puzzles make good use of the front and rear touch, I found rear touch especially problematic. The game doesn't allow multi-touch with the rear touch panel, and I often found one of my hands brushing against the back. When the game detects two fingers on the back, it won't let you use any of the rear touch gadgets in the game. Once again, it feels a bit disjointed.

While the addition of touch might not really expand the LittleBigPlanet experience, it's amazing to see what the UGC community has already created since the launch of the beta. As with LittleBigPlanet 2, creators can do much more than create platformers. Already, there are some touch-based puzzle games available to download. Many of these games already rival the quality of most mobile games, making LBP for Vita an incredible platform to download entirely standalone games.

The community tools will be familiar to anyone that's played LittleBigPlanet 2. You can queue up levels for future play, and best of all, you can download levels to your system for offline play. Vita owners with 3G access will be glad to find out that all the online features in LBP for Vita work on-the-go. While it was impressive to download new levels and games on the PS3, there's something especially magical about being able to do that wirelessly, while waiting for the bus to arrive.

LittleBigPlanet will be available on Vita in September.

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