Exactly What It Says on the Tin
ModNation Racers was an incredibly competent take on the kart-racing genre, so I find it a bit odd that Sony is basically chucking the series out the door. What LittleBigPlanet brought to customizable platforming, ModNation Racers brought to racing. In lieu of a new ModNation installment, the two modification-based series are practically being tossed in a blender to create LittleBigPlanet Karting. To allay any fears, LBP Karting is actually being developed by the studios responsible for both of the aforementioned series.
If you are familiar with Nintendo's juggernaut racing series, Mario Kart, you should be immediately comfortable with LittleBigPlanet Karting's controls, as I was when I got the chance to play it at Comic-Con. You press X to accelerate, the square button to activate any weapons or features that you pick up across the stage, and R1 to drift. Hold your drift around a curve long enough, and you will be rewarded with a temporary boost (if you are not a fan of Mario Kart's "snaking", you will be pleased to learn LBP Karting does not allow it).
Like other kart racers, expectedly, shortcuts abound in LittleBigPlanet Karting. In the levels demoed, you can shave an insane amount of seconds off of your track time through either corridors, timely revealing themselves or using your grappling hook at the opportune moment to swing over obstacles. At this early stage, there is no conspicuous rubberband A.I.
Of course, it would not be a kart racer without ridiculous items strewn across the tracks to either help yourself or hinder other racers. These items include, among others, a giant fist that rockets you through the competition (almost exactly as it does in Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing), electric bolts, and an incredibly handy time-rewind effect where it looks like everyone except for you is taken a few seconds backward in the track to allow you to catch up (in reality, your character just teleports ahead a bit).
While the LBP Karting demo had different karts and character designs on display, each of them handled exactly the same. The physics were noticeably floaty, and the stages lacked any sense of speed (in fact, it felt staggeringly slow compared to other kart racers). I have been assured that, just like the stages, you will be able to customize both your karts and characters in order to give them a unique look and feel.
A few dozen original tracks will be pre-made for the game, but where LittleBigPlanet Karting should set itself apart from the rest of the crowd is the ridiculous amount of customization. The real fun should begin when the public really takes hold of the diverse set of building tools at their disposal. Once enough online community support is reached, the range of custom-made tracks should be practically endless. The only limit is, as they say, one's creativity. LittleBigPlanet Karting looks to have that in spades.
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