LittleBigPlanet - hands-on

Like most people jonesing for a good reason to own a PS3, we're impressed as hell by the promise of LittleBigPlanet. The achingly cute platformer/level-creation tool snagged our imaginations when it was unveiled during the Game Developers Conference in March, and during E3 it was almost fully playable. Enough to give us a good feel for what it'll be like to build your own semi-3D worlds and then jump around in them, anyway.

Even without its simple-but-deep creation tools, LittleBigPlanet would make for a cool downloadable platform-hopping game (it'll be available both on the PlayStation Network and as a disc at retail, if you were wondering). Textures on objects are so detailed as to look almost real, and your fully customizable ragdoll avatars, tentatively called Sackboys, are nothing short of adorable.

Their huge mouths can display four different emotions (selectable with the d-pad), which in turn dictate how they can interact with other players (up to three can join in at any time, either on one system or via PSN). A smiling Sackboy, for example, will be able to hug others, while an angry one can smack them halfway across the screen.

They'll move their heads as you tilt the Sixaxis pad, and by holding down the corresponding L2 or R2 triggers, you can move their arms around freely with the analog sticks. Wave to yourself. Play air guitar while headbanging. You're sure to come up with something that'll amuse your friends.

More importantly, Sackboys can grab onto any objects (or other players) in their path, enabling them to pull things around to solve puzzles and make messes. If there's something suspended in midair, they can glom on and use it as a trapeze, or snag large, spinning objects and let go to be catapulted enormous distances. And as you've seen in thetrailers, they can even take advantage of jetpacks and teamwork to tackle big, physics-driven puzzles.

While all that stuff is fun, however, hopping around and hugging things is really the least of what they - and you - can do in LittleBigPlanet.