LittleBigPlanet 2 – The PS3 Attitude Review
LittleBigPlanet took user-generated content to a whole new level, giving players seemingly endless possibilities with an easy to use creation mode fueled by their own imagination. With new content popping up daily, is a sequel really necessary? Media Molecule thought so.
LittleBigPlanet 2 includes an all new Sackboy adventure and expands upon the original “Play, Create, Share” ideology by allowing players to create not just platformers but also shooters, racers, arcade games, and practically any other genre you can imagine.
Can LittleBigPlanet 2 out create its predecessor, or is much of the same old stuff we’ve seen before?
Sackboy (or Sackgirl depending on your costume) embarks on a new adventure to save Craftworld from the evil Negativitron, a vacuum cleaner type monster that is sucking up all of the world’s inhabitants. In order to save the world from certain doom, our hero is recruited by a secretive group known simply as “The Alliance.” Led by the crafty Larry Da Vinci and the rambunctious Avalon, it is your goal to travel throughout the various levels and save the fellow Alliance members. Each of the levels is introduced by a short video clip, complete with voice acting this time around, although characters still use text bubbles and the Charlie Brown teacher voice in the rest of the game. Along the way you’ll use quirky gadgets and “vehicles” to assist you in collecting prize bubbles, defeating enemies and unlocking more tools to fuel your creations.
LittleBigPlanet 2 introduces three new gadgets; the grappling hook, the power gloves, and the creatinator. The grappling hook allows you to swing from just about anything you can latch on to. Using the up and down buttons, you can control the length of the hook and swing yourself to new heights. It’s a bit tricky at first but with some practice you’ll be swinging like Tarzan in no time. The power gloves give you super Sackboy strength, allowing you to pick up and throw anything from boulders to entire enemies.
Perhaps the most enjoyable gadget though is the creatinator. Like the paintinator from the Metal Gear Solid expansion pack, the creatinator allows you to shoot just about anything from your helmet mounted cannon. In the main game you’ll be using it to fire cake, water, lightning, etc. but when creating your own levels, you can make it fire whatever you want. It looks like your wishes of having a cow rocket launcher have finally been answered.
Sackboy isn’t alone in his adventures. Joining him in a few stages are the Sackbots. These miniature robotic clones will either follow you through thick and thin or run away from you in fear, depending on their programming. Where there’s one, you can bet there are 10 more close by. They’ll help you cross large gaps, activate switches, and occasionally get in your way. If that happens you can always pick them up and give them a good throw.
For the most part, the main storyline levels are similar to the first LittleBigPlanet. You’ll run, jump, and swing from platform to platform. Jumping can still be frustrating at times when you switch between the three familiar planes of a level. Point and prize bubbles litter the areas, both in plain sight and hidden away.
When you reach Avalon’s level, that’s when things begin to change. His stages teach you how to ride the new robotic animals that make their debut in LittleBigPlanet 2. There’s the cute and fluffy bunny that can hop super high and has a deadly stomp attack. Then there’s the dog whose bark is worse than his bite, capable of creating a sonic wave to move obstacles. Another enjoyable robotic pet is the bee whose levels act like a shoot’em up. Variety is the key ingredient here and I think the game does well in mixing things up.
Aside from the main storyline to follow, there are various single and multiplayer mini-games that you can unlock. This time around, there are rewards associated with however many points you score. There are three prize bubble vending machines. The more points you rack up, the more prizes you’ll receive at the end. This gives you an incentive to go back and try to get the highest score. It won’t be a problem either as the mini-games can be quite addictive.
With 50 challenging levels to complete, either alone or with up to three additional friends, the Story Mode is quite robust. Still, this is only the beginning of what LittleBigPlanet 2 has to offer.
So you’ve completed Story Mode and by now you should have amassed a good amount of building materials from prize bubbles. Those of you who played LittleBigPlanet will be pleased to know that everything you earned from the game has transferred over to LittleBigPlanet 2. Now, let’s start creating…
If you’re new to Create Mode, there are over 50 tutorials, narrated by the brilliant and witty Stephen Fry once again, to help ease you into the process. The majority of them are similar to those we saw before but there are new ones as well. They discuss the new tools available to you such as the ability to use cameras to create films, control AI Sackbots, and alter objects with the new circuit board for complex logic connections. You can now place many more functions onto a single object with a microchip. The possibilities are almost limitless…so long as you still have room left in your thermometer of course.
Another new feature is the Controlinator. This feature allows you to take control of any object, essentially turning it into a vehicle, and map the buttons on the controller to do what you want them to do. It’s the driving device that allows for shooters, arcade games, and many of the other non-platformers to exist within LittleBigPlanet 2. Like many of the tools in Create Mode, it’s easy to understand but can be difficult to master.
Create Mode can be a little overwhelming. There is simply so much you can do. What’s great is the fact that someone can go in and spend less than an hour creating a simple level or spend hours upon hours creating a masterpiece. What you get out of the Create Mode is determined on what you put into it. The controls remain the same so experts can jump right in and start creating. As you can imagine, it’s not something for everyone. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy what others have created. It’s only been a little over a week and already there are some impressive creations out there. Imagine what the community will look like in a few weeks or even months from now.
LittleBigPlanet was home to more than 3 million user-created levels. It’d be a shame for them to go to waste. Fortunately, you can play all those levels within LittleBigPlanet 2 as well. Searching for a good level in the first game was a somewhat tedious task. All has been resolved for the sequel, with numerous search options available including “Media Molecule Picks,” which displays the top levels chosen by the developers themselves. Then there’s LBP.me.
LBP.me is the official online community that links your PSN account directly to LittleBigPlanet 2. From there, you can browse created levels by a variety of search options as well as see what your fellow friends have been up to. If you find a level you like, simply add it to your queue and it’ll be ready to play the next time you boot up your system. LittleBigPlanet is no longer confined to just the PS3. You can show off your creations to the world though Twitter, Facebook, etc.
LittleBigPlanet 2 is a games that isn’t meant to be played alone. It screams at you to join other Sackboys and have fun slapping each other or playing versus mini-games. Don’t forget that if you want to collect all the prize bubbles you’re going to need to use teamwork in some of the levels as well. The overwold shows how many people are playing any given level at a time so finding someone to join shouldn’t be a problem. The loading times can be especially long however, and you may find yourself trying to connect multiple times after being rejected by another player. The best solution to this is to play with people on your friends list. Once you’re connect, it’s pretty smooth sailing from there on out.
Imagination and creativity are what make the LittleBigPlanet series so unique and enjoyable. Media Molecule have managed to improve almost every aspect of the game for the sequel. It’s something that I’m sure will stay in our systems for quite some time. The developers have created a base and the tools necessary for us to run wild with.
So I leave you with the following quote from the game, said by the man behind the curtain himself, Steven Fry. I believe it sums everything up quite nicely.
“Do not take lightly your hopes, your ideas, your fantasies. Let them grow. Nurture them.
Then your wildest imaginings will soon trip the dream fantastic,
soaring into the wonder plane and spreading into something altogether magnificent.
And perhaps you’ll see them again the next time you visit LittleBigPlanet.”
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