We had the opportunity to preview LittleBigPlanet Karting and Sony PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale at E3.

Sony’s booth hosted a number of PlayStation 3 and Vita exclusives fans can look forward to in the coming months.  While arguably the biggest titles, The Last of Us and Beyond: Two Souls were not on the show floor, two heavy hitters still sat ready for attendees to experience.

 

LittleBigPlanet Karting

With LittleBigPlanet 2 already allowing for such creative output, a third entry on home consoles seemed somewhat redundant.  As a result, the PlayStation 3 will be receiving LittleBigPlanet Karting from the team behind ModNation Racers, United Front Games.  LBP Karting is a strong follow-up for both series, maintaining the fun racing of the developer’s previous work while surprisingly, but effectively, retaining the feel and spirit of Sackboy’s outings.

Sackboy always had a floating quality to him – his jumping and running mechanics have never been exact, which is not a knock against the series.  Instead, United Front Games in conjunction with Media Molecule has made the karts in this racing title feel light as well.  The way they hop looks weightless as the karts bounce around to initiate drifting.  The patchwork aesthetic of the worlds has also returned, and the ability to individualize your character returns in the way karts and drivers can look wildly different from the next.

A battle mode and standard race were on display at Sony’s booth.  Neither option radically shifts the kart racing dynamic, as weapons are available in each – in one to disrupt foes and speed past them and in the other to score points.  Nothing surprising, but the unwavering joy and levity of the proceedings erased any feeling of frustration that may have arised from an enemy’s well-aimed missile.  Races are, as expected, a combination of skill and luck, and battles turn into hectic free-for-alls where it can be anyone’s game.  Weapons can only be aimed in two directions – ahead of or behind you, so timing is key and could determine the winner by mere seconds or a single kill.

If United Front Games can maintain the solid driving while evoking the creativity that makes LittleBigPlanet so endearing, then look for LittleBigPlanet Karting to sap much of your time later this year.

 

PlayStation All-Star Battle Royale

We’ve mocked the overly long name and made the Super Smash Bros. comparisons but is PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale actually a fun game? Without a doubt, though it does have a nagging issue or two.

With six characters announced, Sony allowed showgoers to play as any of them across four maps.  The newcomers, Big Daddy and Nathan Drake, felt drastically different but are dynamic additions to the already diverse cast.  Big Daddy is, as may be expected, slow and hulking but damn does he pack a punch.  His basic attacks can send enemies flying across the screen, and his specials, which range from summoning a Little Sister or flooding the entire stage, make him a daunting foe.  If you’re looking to play as a brute, look no further than BioShock‘s iconic foe.  But be warned – evading is not one of his strong suits, and you may find yourself the punching bag of a few opponents without much reprieve.

Drake on the other hand is nimble and can swing around the stage with all the stumbling grace on display in the Uncharted games.  Drake primarily relies on his guns to damage and take down foes, including a trusty pistol and a machine gun.  For the more trigger-happy fighters, Drake is a smart choice, but with some resourceful playing, I found him to be one of the more useful characters.  His specials vary wildly, with his level 3 super attack turning enemies into the zombies from the original Uncharted, but even his most basic special is devastating if used properly.  Drake will through an explosive canister onto the stage, which, when shot, explodes to kill any nearby enemies.  Its a small radius, with with some smart timing, I on multiple occasions blasted two and even three combatants into nothing.  He can be trial and error but Drake may not only be a fan favorite but also one of the more worthy challengers.

Overall, I enjoyed the two new additions, and the other characters all have their charms, but I still have an issue with the central mechanic.  You have to use a super to kill an enemy and earn a point, meaning your normal attacks have no purpose other than to build up your special meter.  It takes part of the fun out of the proceedings, as it comes down to whoever can launch the most special attacks and not who fights the best.  If you’re going to ape Smash Bros., the health system is not the aspect to omit.

Still, LBP Karting and Battle Royale are frantic fun, and even if my qualms with both titles are not eventually addressed, there is more than enough on display to satisfy Sony fans looking for lighter, multiplayer-focused fare.