'LittleBigPlanet' will put a smile on your face

With everything from fire swords to rocket cars, you'll never be bored with the game.

Imagine any activity, anything at all, and chances are you can do that in "LittleBIGPlanet." Racing in rocket-cars made entirely of glass? Skydiving? A re-creation of "Super Mario Bros.?" Making music? Trivia games? Sword-fighting? How about sword fighting while the swords are on fire? The possibilities are quite literally endless.

The moment you boot up the game, you'll immediately get the impression this was a labor of love, as the development team has plastered their faces all over a custom-made level. "LittleBIGPlanet" embodies the spirit of never growing up, when absolute bliss came from your childhood toy box.

Your avatar, a "sackboy" (or "sackgirl" should you so desire), is exactly what it sounds like, a tiny, button-eyed guy made out of a burlap sack, wool, denim or some other type of fabric of your choosing. Take it from a straight-faced, grown-up young adult, the sack people are absolutely adorable, from the way they bounce to their various silly facial expressions that you can manipulate with simple presses of the d-pad. Oh, and here you'll find the most ingenious yet simple use of SIXAXIS motion controls yet, headbanging!

Everything else in "LittleBIGPlanet" falls into an eclectic potpourri of materials and objects that comprise this whimsical fantasy world. No one element defines its aesthetic, except that everything defines it. Wood, sand, glass, metal, fog, rope, grass - it's like a child's rendition of the world's biggest hardware store, rendered in striking photorealism.

Breaking down "LittleBIGPlanet" to its most fundamental level leaves a two-dimensional platforming game with three dimensions. You're always moving left to right or vice versa, but three distinct 2-D planes co-exist, one furthest from the screen, one closest, and one sandwiched in between. The only trouble you'll find is jumping back and forth between the planes (by pushing up and down on the movement stick), which can be imprecise at times.

The pre-made story levels on the disk consist mainly of the standard 2-D platforming fare: collecting point bubbles, hopping over gaps, swinging on pendulums, avoiding hazards and so forth. Once you get to create your own stages, however, you realize that all of those story levels were made using the exact same tools given to you, the player. Yes, you too can create a giant sumo wrestler made out of wood with motor-operated joints.

The depth of tools given to you can be overwhelming, but a handy set of tutorials, narrated by the nicest and most charming British man you'll ever meet, will guide you through the basics of planting materials into the world, modifying them, adding switches (specifying "if this happens, then this other thing happens"), and the like. And even if you never come up with a worthwhile level, messing around with the physics engine is a blast. I could attach rocket engines to various objects all day long.

You can then publish your masterpiece/abomination to the Web, where you can also peruse a wide variety of levels that other users have created. The highest-rated ones move to the top of the list for your convenience, and there seems to be no limit to the creative juices of the "LittleBIGPlanet" community. A Batman stage where you have to help Commissioner Gordon escape from Arkham Asylum? Yeah, someone made that.

If you can't tell from my dripping enthusiasm, this game is pretty much happiness on a disk. If you own a PS3, buy "LittleBIGPlanet" without hesitation. No other game of this generation has such a profound ability to melt away your cynicism and put a smile on your face.

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