Now that I've had a few days with the LittleBigPlanet beta, I can completely agree with the hype for it. This game is something very special. I don't know if I've ever seen a game evoke these kinds of reactions and creativity out of people. Just the fact that a game can show off the creativity of people who didn't make the game is pretty amazing. It is a game like no other, and a toy like no other.
It seemed like when Spore was released, you couldn't talk about its community sharing without mentioning LBP in the same breath, now I can see why. The way the game isn't really at its best until you go searching through the community for levels could have been a terrible mistake, but there are some truly amazing levels out there...and this is just the beta.
The more interesting comparison I would make to Spore is the idea of science through games. While Spore's aim was biology and evolutionary science, LBP gives us some insight into engineering and phsyical science (I would even say more insight). There were times in Spore where I would come across a creature and think, "Oh neat, how did they make that?" But generally, it was pretty easy to figure out just by looking at the creature for a little bit. In LBP, however, I am constantly coming across levels that put me in a state of utter awe. The mechanical contraptions and level design people have come up with gives me hope for the future of humanity. There are some truly brilliant things going on in this beta. The ability to reverse engineer anything you come across in a level might end up being the most addictive element of the game for me. Far more than Spore, it has opened my eyes to the possiblities in a tool set and encouraged me to try to think outside the box.
While the actual levels are very fun to play as a game, the toy that is the creator is where it shines. You will make levels. If you're telling yourself you won't, stop. I went in thinking the same thing. While you may not make an epic Shadow of the Colossus level or an air pirate adventure, you will make something. It could just be a nifty elevator or one small pit puzzle, but it will be something. I'm not sure if I will even ever publish anything, but damn it will I make stuff. The experience of coming up with a concept and seeing if you can make it happen is one of the most satisfying things I've ever done. The tools are so well thought out and defined that there is probably a way to do almost anything. It is the greatest toy box I've ever been able to play with. This is in stark comparison with something like Wii Music, which I haven't played, but has been called a "toy" as well. From what I've seen and read, it is basically a glorified plastic piano that played preordained notes when you press buttons. This is the low end of the toy spectrum with Spore's creators above that and LBP far above that.
I showed it to a "gamer lite" roommate of mine. He doesn't own any of the current gen systems but enjoys the Wii in the common room and old school games. He nearly shit a brick once he saw what LBP was capable of. This was his dream, to make side scrolling levels. We spent around two hours making a level of pure bastardry. It was just a seires of pits to get over, nothing super special, but just switching off trying to devise new ways to make you pull out your hair while trying to advance was something I've never had with another game. The game has been stuck in my head all day. While driving for work I could only think of new things to try to make in my level.
This is just a beta, but I'm completely sold. From what I've heard the final game has even more things and pre-made levels, and that only makes me more excited. This game is really something unique that deserves to do very well. If it can't move some PS3's then nothing can. Thank you, Media Molecule. Seriously.