LittleBigPlanet 2: catchup review

  • Format: PS3
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: Sony
  • Developer: Media Molecule
  • Players: 1-4
  • Site: http://www.littlebigplanet.com

  • LittleBigPlanet 2 is a very difficult game to review. It is unique in the world of videogames (prequel aside) in that the levels and gameplay mechanics created by the developers will almost certainly represent the tiniest minority of the time you spend with the game. In fact, if you concentrate solely on the more traditional aspects, you may well wonder what all the fuss is about.

    There certainly is a structured, familiar singleplayer mode. Ostensibly a platformer, the revamped and turbo boosted Create mode has led to some levels and mini-games being presented as, for example, old school ‘bullet hell’ shooters. You will for the most part however be running, jumping and swinging your way from A to B.

    As those familiar with the first game will know, everything has a purposefully ‘handmade’ look. Look closely and you’ll see washing up liquid bottle rockets, characters with cardboard heads, and hand-drawn background details. It’s all fantastically rendered and beautifully designed; this is one amazing looking game.

    The new lengthy & artistically directed cutscenes are far from unwelcome, and some are overwhelmingly impressive. The decision to voice characters in the scenes which open and close each level, however, proves to be an unwise one. It edges LittleBigPlanet closer to an overfamiliar singleplayer experience; and in addition, some jokes prove to work better on paper than they do when spoken out loud.

    Yes this is a game with a sense of humour – but the script now and again aims for a more serious, meaningful angle. Simply put, it does not work. Despite this – and the fact that the story mode is shorter and easier than we’d like (we never even failed a level until the final boss) – it’s an enjoyable ride. That, however, is a fraction of what LittleBigPlanet 2 has to offer.

    The rest revolves around Create mode. This is the level creation tool that the developers themselves used to create the story mode from start to finish and as such, is incredibly versatile and powerful. In fact, it has been so much improved from Create in LBP 1, it makes that game seem almost perversely restrictive (no mean feat).

    There are over 50 tutorials for Create, all once again perfectly narrated by Stephen Fry (who has been roped into much more narration overall). You can ignore them all and jump straight in if you wish, though all but the most experienced LBP creators would be well advised to go through at least a handful.

    Once you’re confident you’ve got a handle on things, you can get creating. LBP 1 veterans will find that the basic setup is largely unchanged; music, backgrounds, objects etc. are chosen via the ‘Popit’ menu, and you can draw completely new shapes and objects into existence with the controller. The new options are far too many to list and explain here; the music sequencer for making your own music, the logic gates for more complicated programming, the ‘creatinator’ (a gun that fires out anything you tell it to), the ‘controlinator’ (which, for example, allows you to assign controls to all buttons and both sticks for a vehicle you’ve made for your level). And much more. It may sound daunting, but it’s all presented in the most user friendly way possible.

    Special mention must go to the sackbots – AI sackfolk that you can use in your levels. You can dress them up in any skins, costumes, or combinations thereof that you own (a sly way of making DLC costumes appeal to more people, perhaps). Even better than that is the control you have over their behaviour. They can simply stand around looking cute if you want; but you can also make them attack, flee from, or follow players. Best of all you can make them ‘act’; take control of the sackbot in Create, then record actions for it to perform as and when you decree.

    If you’ve ever had dreams of becoming a games designer, LittleBigPlanet 2 is worth the money several times over for Create alone. You won’t find a cheaper, more user friendly game creation tool anywhere – and famously, Media Molecule are in the habit of hiring people whose levels impress them the most. But what if you have little to no interest in making and showing off your own creations?

    The feature that has perhaps been most instrumental in allowing new genres to be explored proves to have been the ability to tweak the level of gravity, which leads neatly to the final chunk of LittleBigPlanet – the user created levels. Go online, and you’ll find literally millions of user created levels (though that includes all the ones imported from LBP 1). Thankfully, search options have been poked and prodded to make digging up levels that interest you easier, and there is now an ‘MM Picks’ list for levels so impressive, Media Molecule feel the need to promote them themselves.

    Platformers, twin stick shooters, short movies, top down racers… all these and much more have been provided – for free – by the community. When considering our score deduct one mark if you never intend to make a level yourself, two marks if you don’t take your PS3 online, and two marks if you’re instantly distrustful of anything that looks this damn cute.


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    Written by Luke K

    Luke plays lots of videogames, now and again stopping to write about them. He's the editor in chief at Critical Gamer, which fools him into thinking his life has some kind of value. Chances are, if you pick up a copy of the latest Official PlayStation Magazine or GamesMaster, you'll find something he's written in there. Luke doesn't have a short temper. If you suggest otherwise, he will punch you in the face.

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