TGS 2010: LittleBigPlanet 2 Move enabled hands-on impressions

One of the problems facing Little Big Planet 2 is that we pretty much know what to expect. The original seemed set to change the industry by bringing about the user generated revolution in which there would always be new content available. It was the game that would never end, the game which would set the bar for value to which all other games would aspire. It was the game that was supposed to never need a sequel, so I had mixed emotions about LittleBigPlanet 2. Having had some hands on time with it I can safely say that my enthusiasm has been fully restored, though that statement does come with some caveats.

LittleBigPlanet 2 looks and feels very familiar. So that means that it retains its incredibly charming protagonists, complete with costumes and animations that are stuffed full of personality, as well as inventive, well crafted levels. It also means that there is still a slightly leaden feel to controlling Sackboy, and the notorious sticky jump has returned. Media Molecule did claim that they would be improving that particular issue from the first game, but in the current build it seems as though little had changed. If it didn’t hamper your experience in the first game, it is unlikely to bother you this time; but few could argue that some tweak to the floaty way in which Sackboy moves would improve the game.

If there has been one thing Media Molecule has been very good at, it’s listening to its community. In fact for LittleBigPlanet 2 several community members were hired as level creators, and that additional creative spark was evident even in the demo. The bonus levels of the first game were a little lacklustre, so I was pleasantly surprised by the rhythm action game in the demo. Each player had a pillar of blocks filled with Xs and Os running down the screen and the player had to press the corresponding button on the PS3 controller. It’s such a simple concept but it was so well executed that it was really fun and competitive. If the other bonus levels retain a comparable level of quality they will provide more than a brief distraction this time round.

One of the levels featured the new follow mechanic in which you were attempting to lead a group of twenty robots to their freedom. As you run around, the robots try to keep up, but seeing as they are unable to jump you have to use a series of levers and platforms in order to allow them to progress. It plays pretty much as you would imagine it would but it is an interesting addition, and another way to keep the Little Big Planet experience fresh. It will certainly be interesting to see what the community does with this and the other new features.

The unexpected joy of LittleBigPlanet 2 at TGS was in the Move downloadable content pack. One of the problems, or vindictive sources of entertainment depending on your perspective, of the first game is that though it can be played cooperatively, it is more difficult to do so. The only truly cooperative parts were the optional 2, 3, or 4 Sackboy challenges which would require a minimum of that number of players in order to complete it. The Move functionality gives the game a much welcome dependence on cooperation. One player controls Sackboy and the other a reticule, controlled by pointing the Move controller at the screen. As one person traverses the level as Sackboy they need the other player to manipulate the environment by interacting with objects highlighted in pink. This could be to flick a switch, to launch Sackboy into the air, to provide a temporary platform, or even to provide a source of light. It works very well as a cooperative experience, requiring the players to communicate effectively in order to progress. The best demonstration of this need to cooperate came in the last level of the demo in which Sackboy had to make his way up a volcano filled with rising magma. The tension of relying on your partner and the synchronized timing required to escape death was a panicky but entertaining experience. It is definitely a mode which needs two people to be sitting side-by-side, but provided you are able to accommodate this necessity it looks like a great way to play with friends or family, and is suitably different in feel from the core LittleBigPlanet experience.

Little Big Planet has always thrived on versatility, and with LittleBigPlanet 2 and the Move compatible downloadable content pack, Media Molecule has just broadened horizons of what can be created in the game. More importantly than that, LittleBigPlanet is still really fun to play.

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Written by Stevie L.

Stevie Lim is a man in Japan.

2 comments

  1. Oni-Samurai /

    I’ve got access to the beta and thinking its absolutley brilliant. The jumping in the first game was a bit fiddly and MM have said that they won’t change the jumping mechanic as that would affect the compatibility with the community levels of LBP1, but the gravity is customisable for LBP2 community levels. I’m sure there’s a way around this.

    • KrazyFace /

      I’m in the beta too! Wanna meet up one night? Anyway, yeah, by tweaking the gravity in a created level you can make sacky jump as high/low as you want! Though it won’t entirely get rid of your “sticky sack” (HAAAAHAHAHAHAHAA!)problem, it still means there’s room to play with the jump mechanics in user levels.

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