January 12, 2011, Author: Phil Ubee
Here at This Is My Joystick we have often stated, both collectively and individually, that modern gaming lacks a bit when it comes to innovation. We have bemoaned the endless cycle of regenerated franchise titles such as FIFA or COD as uninspired or repetitive, so when Create arrived in the office there was a genuine clamour and the hands went up almost in unison to claim the review copy.
Fortunately for me, all this interest caused so much confusion that I was able to nip in and pinch it from under the noses of my colleagues, the question now becomes was EA’s new multi-platform game worth the effort? Read on to find out.
A world of change
Create’s single player mode is a journey through ten worlds that involve decorating your own level and working through a collection of pretty open-ended puzzles that allow you to play the game largely how you want. The aim is to collect Create Sparks that open up new worlds and new objects for you to play with by completing the challenges and decorating the world. It’s an alarmingly simple concept that works (in the most part) very well. The game does have a certain amount of structure to it in the way the puzzles are set up and the way the decoration of the world is done but there is absolutely no obligation to follow this loose structure as you will earn the Sparks however you go about playing the game.
Create uses a menu system to allow you quick access to the various areas you’ll need to complete a puzzle or decorate a scene; these menu’s are opened by a press of the Y button and navigated with the left analogue stick. The A button is used to select a pick list which contains a collection of objects, again to select an item and a third time to place it on your scenery. In the main view, the Left Trigger controls the cursor while the Right Trigger controls the camera. You can zoom in or change the camera angle with the Right Bumper and there is a help menu that can be accessed at any stage with a press of LB.
Once you have placed an object you can manipulate it with the use of the B button; a tap brings up an additional menu that allows you to rotate, resize, flip or delete your object and if you hold B while pointing at an object you can then drag it to another location. You can also open up the last accessed pick list with a tap of the X button.
As I alluded to earlier, these menus generally work well. Initially they can be difficult to navigate and if you’re anything like me your patience will be tested as you find your cursor lost off the edge of the screen or you delete something you simply wanted to resize but as you progress through, these frustrating moments will become fewer and fewer and you will find yourself jumping to the appropriate item with little thought at all.
The main bulk of Create is a genuine puzzle fest. Each world has ten challenges that come in a number of forms and earn you a varying number of Sparks dependent on the difficulty. Your staple challenge is Object; these require you to simply get a focal object from a start point to an end point and can be a simple case of setting a ramp down for a car to jump or something a bit more complex like navigating a balloon around a collection of obstacles.
Then we have the Contraption-O-Matic challenges which require you to build an appropriate contraption to transport a primary object to a goal. These challenges are ideal for the wannabe mechanical engineers among you as you put together a collection of drive wheels and girders to get your creation mobile while ensuring there is a solid base at the appropriate level to securely carry your object.
The third challenge type is Scoretacular which asks you to complete the challenge with as many points scored as possible. Points are earned by hitting multipliers, using more objects and getting your primary object to perform a few stunts. The Scoretacular levels are probably the most open in terms of how you go about achieving your goal as all currently unlocked objects are available to you in order to gain those multipliers.
Finally we have a Pickup Party challenge. As the name suggests these challenges require you to collect the available sparks by touching them with your primary object on your way to the goal.
In addition to the multiple challenges, each world will have five Create Chains each of which unlocks an additional spark. Create Chains ask you to use a specific tool to decorate a particular area of your environment. As I mentioned earlier you don’t have to follow these suggestions but you will earn sparks quicker if you do. Unfortunately the Create chains do not work as well as the challenges as you are often asked to put things you possibly wouldn’t want in an area that you’d rather have something else entirely. In these cases though you can simply delete the offending item as soon as that part of the chain is complete without penalty, which begs the question why bother in the first place?
Paint a picture
Create is what I would call a pretty game. By that I mean the visuals are clear and crisp and the depth of colour is fantastic. There is an absolute plethora of available textures, objects and items available for you to add to your Create world which are all superbly detailed and where necessary, animated.
In addition the backdrops are nicely drawn, giving a good feeling of distance, which you can enhance or detract by scaling your objects and stickers as you see fit and within the challenges objects and items are well animated. Importantly in this type of game the physics and collision detection come across as sound so there is never any reason to blame anything but your own poor engineering for a failed attempt.
Play a tune
As with everything in the Create universe there is an element of choice in the background music. As you open new worlds to play in, you will also receive new background tunes. These are, by and large, soothing melodies that are clearly designed to keep the atmosphere calm rather than build any kind of tension and they certainly do the job, which suits the game perfectly.
The sound effects are well produced also as balloons pop, car engines purr and the appropriate sounds are heard when a ball bounces or glass breaks. There clearly has been a degree of care in ensuring that Create carries a certain authenticity throughout and with the sheer number of different items available to you it is certainly welcome.
Unfortunately there is no real multiplayer aspect to Create. What you have instead is the ability to share your creations online. You can take snapshots of your worlds and post them to a gallery or, if you wish, create a challenge to test other players from across the community. EA have created a “Wall of Fame” on the Create website that showcases the best efforts from all formats so you have something to aspire to.
Obviously this also means you can view the designs that other players have come up with and see if you can crack their challenges which does add an extra tier to the gameplay and undoubtedly prolongs the shelf life of the title in general.
Create a masterpiece
Create is not an easy game to define. Essentially in its truest form, it is a puzzle game of the highest calibre. Some of the challenges remind me of a game called Magic Pen that I used to play online when I was supposed to be working at a previous employment. However, to call Create simply a puzzler is to do it a disservice as there is an awful lot more to EA’s latest offering than just puzzles. Budding designers can test the fields of the game until their heart’s content while children can utilise the Free Create world which is unlocked very early on to simply draw pictures and play with virtual animals.
The scope of Create is genuinely huge with 100 different challenges across ten worlds, even before you start looking at the online user created challenges. The variation from a simple “get object from point A to point B” to some truly intuitive tests that will have you scratching your head for a good hour or so (without ever getting you annoyed or frustrated) really is brilliant. Create is a genuine breath of fresh air that will test your gaming ability, your patience and your imagination in equal measure.