The PS Vita version of LittleBigPlanet is probably going to be the best in the series.
I don't say this lightly. Media Molecule's breakthrough hit was one of the best games on the PS3, and we frequently state that its sequel is one of the only games you'll ever need. The franchise defines and refines the concept of Play Create Share and has attracted an ever-growing community of amateur architects and content designers. But even the MM reps agreed that this latest version is probably going to be more worthwhile than its console brethren.
We need to talk about scope backwards compatibility right off the bat. LittleBigPlanet Vita contains all of the level design tools featured in LittleBigPlanet 2, meaning that it's compatible with stages, costumes and objects designed in the first two games (without PS Move controls, obviously). The reps assured me that there will be a huge amount of community-made content available at launch (2,000,000 stages?!), [UPDATE: This simply wasn't true. Sorry for the misinformation, but this is what was reported to us.] and the Vita's impressive graphical capabilities will allow veteran LBP designers can get straight back into the swing of creating advanced and interesting levels.
In terms of handling, once I'd got my grimy paws on the PS Vita itself (which is an exceptional piece of kit, by the way) I was unsurprised to learn that Sackboy is primarily controlled with the left thumbstick, jumping with the X button and shifting between planes with a quick flick of the nub. However, elements on the screen can be directly using the touchscreen.. Blocks can be precisely placed, wheels can be turned and platforms can be moved with a quick drag or swipe. Fingerprint icons highlight the positions of your fingers on the back panel, which lets you interact with buttons, piano keys and, well, pretty much anything. For example, buttons can be pushed away from the player with the touchscreen and back out with the back panel. The onboard gyroscope can be used to shift the stage's centre of gravity along with shifting wheeled platforms in puzzle segments. Level designers don't need to use these new control methods, but doing so adds a completely new and exciting dimension to the action.
One of my major issues with LittleBigPlanet is that the level design suite is fairly daunting to learn. But thanks to the touchscreen, the Vita version lets you (literally) get hands-on with the creation side of things. Objects can be placed, rotated and resized by simply touching the screen or back panel, which eliminates a major barrier to entry. The gyroscope and back panel can be bound to objects in the editor, meaning that they can be leveraged into entirely different genres as well as platforming experiences. More advanced and intricate genres and levels can be designed than ever before... and yet it's twice as intuitive. More to the point, you'll also be able to do it during the morning commute.
I'm not convinced that anyone plays LittleBigPlanet for the visuals, but just in case you're interested: the Vita version is a real looker. From what we were shown, it even gives Uncharted a run for its money. Smooth animations, detailed textures and a complete lack of jagginess (an outstanding achievement in a handheld title) makes it a portable powerhouse as well as a mechanically capable game.
In many ways, like its PS3 predecessors, LittleBigPlanet Vita could well be the last game you'll ever need. So be sure to make it one of the first you pick up once the Vita hits the shelves this holiday season.