The first LittleBigPlanet is still one of the most charismatic and innovative games released this generation. With that said the developers at Media Molecule created a game that could last forever with its level creator and an active community that has spawned millions of levels for users to download. This is one of the main reasons I was so skeptical of a sequel. What more did we need? What could the team possibly do to warrant gamers to go out and spend another $60 when they already had more than enough content in the original game? Well friends there are plenty of reasons to justify dropping the cash again. LBP2 is one of the most robust packages you will get this year and definitely worth checking out if you are a fan.
Out of the box we are once again treated to a massive single player game that spans 30 levels and a wide variety of themes. Not much has changed here outside of the new features which we will get to later. This time Sackboy is tasked to save Craftworld from the evil invading Negativitron. The included levels show off some of the new features and functions including the grappling hook among others. While not the most compelling campaign you will ever play, it is definitely a meaty portion of platforming that is worth going through even if to just familiarize yourself with the standard controls.
When you first boot up the game you are greeted with the same credits sequence that runs you through the basics. It is also worth noting that if you owned the original game you will bring over your decorated Sackboy complete with costumes. Everything from the first game works here which makes all that content you downloaded and purchased still good. I did have an issue with my customized pod loading due to some object I had in there, but other than that everything is intact. All of this is well and good, but so far nothing sounds all that different does it? Well aside from the typical sequel enhancements MM has also completely revamped the Create functionality of the game, which is where the big changes come into play.
One of the biggest draws to the original game was the ability to create and share your own levels via PSN. All of the levels from the first game are available for download in the second game, but it is the new creation tools that really open up the endless possibilities for the sequel. Not only can you create your own levels, you can basically create your own games. But before I get too far ahead of myself let’s talk about the improved creation tools first.
This time around things are a little less intimidating when you first jump in. I will be the first to admit that when I booted up the level creator in the first game I was overwhelmed. There was just so much to do and it wasn’t as intuitive as I would have liked. This time around tutorials are easier to access and things just feel more streamlined. There are also a host of new tools and tweaks that veteran creators will have a field day with. One of the biggest improvements is that chips are now stored behind the scenes so they don’t muck up the look of your levels. You can also create Sackbots that have multiple actions within the game, including as actors in your cut scenes. Yes you can create full-on cut scenes this time around complete with varying camera angles, original music created with the in-game synthesizer and even recording your own dialogue with a microphone.
Needless to say this game is deep and full of possibilities, which makes the possibilities for online creations nearly endless. As of the writing of this review people have already created Mario Kart clones, levels from Call of Duty and of course everything in between. Sure there will be tons of crap to wade through, but MM has a section for their picks and you can again sort by popularity and tags. The online infrastructure is as solid as it was in the last game with plenty of new tweaks. Downloading and checking out levels is a blast and even at this early stage there are a ton of designs to choose from. I cannot imagine the amount of content that will be available by this time next year. LBP2 is the definition of a platform for content creation.
With so much positive it was hard to yank out a few negatives, but there were a few snags. First up is the jumping. While it is something you can get used to, newcomers are still going to struggle with it at first. Yes I know it is debatable and some people have no issues, but there were still some areas where I fell because of awkward timing. I also have to mention that after two games I am not a fan of the in-and-out of the foreground movement. It makes for some confusing navigation on some of the more intricate levels. Finally I wish things were a bit more noob-friendly in the creation process. Being an older gamer with a career and a family, I certainly don’t have time to learn all the ins and outs of the process, but to be honest this is a complete nitpick and bears no bad on the developers.
The sheer amount of content in this game is staggering. In addition to the 30 single player levels and tons of creations you also have the collection aspect. Again you need to collect items for your creation mode, but you also pick up stickers and pins along the way. MM has also brought back online co-op with up to four players and even added versus levels that let you stack your skills up against your friends in specifically designed levels. Probably my favorite addition to the game though is LBP.me, a website that integrates into your game allowing you to peruse levels and creations and queue them up for download on your PS3 at a later time.
Presentation is again top-notch with some spruced up visuals and music. The level designs are absolutely amazing and seeing some of the creations come to life is amazing. The simple yet sophisticated design of the game is one of its most appealing features. The frame rate is solid and there is so much happening that at times it is hard to appreciate it all. The music is as catchy and pleasant as the original and the ability to create your own music and voice work is absolutely amazing. The entire package is simply delightful on so many levels.
There is so much to love about LittleBigPlanet 2 that I am willing to overlook the fact that the first game was supposed to be a platform. The sheer amount of content and improvements more than warrants the price tag and you would be crazy to pass up this delightful package. Sony continues to impress with its first-party lineup and if this is a sign of things to come in 2011 the other console makers should be worried. Let the flood of fabulous games pour in led by everyone’s favorite Sackboy.
Review copy provided by publisher.