LittleBigPlanet 2 Review

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LittleBigPlanet 2 screenshotLittleBigPlanet is a title that’s more than just the sum of its parts, it’s something that opened a new world of creativity to gamers removing the boundaries of simple tracks or self contained levels. Literally millions of levels were created by gamers, some good, some excellent and a slew of mediocre ones emerged – and people started wondering what could happen with the sequel. Well, that time is upon us and Media Molecule has delivered something that exceeds expectations of gamers worldwide. No longer are you shoehorned into the standard side scrolling platform title, as almost any genre of game can and eventually will be reproduced by the insane community of LittleBigPlanet players.

On the surface, not a whole lot has changed between this and the previous version. You still control the cutest mascot to come to gaming in ages, dress him/her up and make your way through a series of predesigned levels collecting items that you’ll eventually be able to utilize in your own creations. Yes, there’s a new story mode that walks you through 30 levels; not including a series of smaller challenge levels to tackle with or against friends. This time, a giant beast known as the Negativitron has taken over the realms of a couple very quirky characters, and it’s up to you Sack Boy (and friends) to clear out these areas and take down the giant beast once and for all. The story is relatively weak and quite quick to play through, and honestly seemed like more of method to show you what type of levels you can create in the game. Whether it be Avalon Centrifuge’s on rails or side scrolling shooters, or the platforming action of the final boss fight – the main story does one thing very, very well and that is inspire you to create something of your own. With each passing level I found myself saying “I should make this!” or “That’s a fantastic idea for a game!” – sadly, my creation skills never lived up to my dreams even with the finely tuned editing system in place now.

To say the editing tools have been totally revamped isn’t quite accurate, but there were a few great enhancements made that make what was once a multi-step affair a simple one step option. Need something to move? No problem, simply activate the proper trigger on the object and tell it what to do. Linking events and objects is now so simple, I was even able to do it without having to watch the tutorials, of which there is well over one hour of. So rest assured, even if you are completely new to the LittleBigPlanet experience you’ll be up to speed and creating your own levels quickly. One small issue with these creation tools is that it will take people a while to fully be able to harness the power that exists here, which means the really fantastic levels will take a while to populate the Community zone. However, at this point in time well over 3 MILLION levels are available for download and play as all creations from LBP were moved forward, with some slight graphical enhancements and are fully playable from within LBP2. Give the game another month or so and I imagine we’ll be seeing some truly amazing levels for play. Already there are LittleBigRemakes of popular games out there, including a Legend of Zelda clone, and I played through a very early version of Super Mario Bros. complete with breaking bricks, goombas and Mario himself.

One great feature which can also be slightly annoying but fixed with a quick settings change, is every time you enter a level be it user created or an on disc level, you are greeted with the option to play with anyone else who might be playing that level. Say yes, and you’ll be transported to that user’s instance of the level and away you go with up to three others. Why is this annoying you might ask? Well, when you say that you don’t want to join others and go into your own single player mode if you hang around the very beginning of the level for too long you’ll start to be inundated with requests from other players to join your game. Thankfully, this can be turned off in the game options, but then when you do actually want to play with someone else you have to go back and re-enable it. Not a big deal, but slightly annoying. The problem here comes when you actually DO want to join someone’s game – as you’re waiting for a response the level will load which is nice. However, should the other player deny your request for entry you are forced into starting the level solo. When this happened I never had to option to allow other players join me, so if it was one of the many levels where rewards are tied to teamwork I had to back out to the map and attempt to get in again.

Some other extra goods are included with the disc accessible from the XMB, including a copy of Sackboy’s Prehistoric Moves – a small little title that uses the Move setup and is essentially a glorified ‘what if’ demo. A demo for ModNation Racers is included and a series of PlayStation exclusive games are also included. Oddly, these are not selectable from within the game itself, only from the XMB.

When a game comes out that essentially gives you carte blanche to create anything you want, it’s a tough one to score. Some gamers are not going to enjoy the learning curve of creating their own levels and sharing with others, while some will predominantly be doing this and enjoying the thrill of seeing their level earning hearts and reading the comments people leave. Others will simply play the game for the prepackaged levels, and occasionally dip into the Community to check out the recommended titles. Either way, there’s plenty here to keep players entertained, even the on disc levels themselves are much more entertaining than the two other LPB titles (including the PSP) and replaying these to attempt to Ace the level (not die) is a challenge in itself. If you loved the first title, you’re going to enjoy the pants off this one, and newcomers to the game should enjoy the platforming action be it solo or with friends both local and online.

If you build it, they will come. The only limiting factor in creating new games here is your own mind. Dive into the chaotic beauty of LittleBigPlanet 2.

Platform reviewed: PlayStation 3

— Jeff Paramchuk

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