LittleBigPlanet 2 Review
LittleBigPlanet 2 reminds me in a lot of ways of Super Mario Galaxy 2. The original was so unique, and unlike anything we’d ever played before, that the sequel could continue to expand on the established foundations, while retaining the fresh feel of uncharted territories. LittleBigPlanet 2 is the first in a spectacular year of exclusives for the PlayStation 3, and has set the console on the right path to finally achieve the elusive “year of the PS3” that we’ve been hearing so much about.
What LittleBigPlanet 2 Got Right
Creativity gone wild - That sums up LittleBigPlanet 2 better than anything else. It celebrates the player’s ability not only to progress through the developer’s ideas, but expand upon them with their own. For anyone who committed the travesty of not playing the first game, the idea behind LittleBigPlanet 2 combines the best of playing and creating. The core gameplay is fairly basic, but ingenious, platforming. However, it’s so much more than that. It turns the player into a creator, as they are encouraged to develop their own levels, characters and designs to share with the greater community.
Clever level design - LittleBigPlanet 2 packs 30 new levels right out of the box, each better than the last. The platforming mechanics are fairly basic, but they return the genre to what made platformers so popular on the NES. Most of the controls are handled with the left analog stick, the X and R1 buttons. Sack Boy’s goal is to reach the end of the quirky 2.5D stage, using a host of power-ups and diverse abilities. While the campaign is great, it’s only the tip of the iceberg, and an introduction to the world of LittleBigPlanet.
Community involvement & better creation - LittleBigPlanet 2 rivals community-based PC games, and is by far the best on a console. After you’re done with the campaign, you can access PSN and download a range of levels created by other players. Likewise, you can design your own levels and upload them for your co-creators to test themselves. LittleBigPlanet 2 has addressed many of the issues with the creation suite in the original game, and is a much more polished experience. As well as being able to create objects, levels and backgrounds, you can change the way Sack Boy is controlled. In brings a whole new meaning to “in-game creator” and allows you to literally revolutionize the experience yourself. Being able the change the control scheme, and the on-screen displays, means you can almost change the entire premise behind the game. You can make it more of an action or fighting game, rather than a platformer, if you have the dedication to the development tools. The depth of the creation tools and their new user friendly interface has given players the ability to be limited only by their own imagination. The game has only been out for a number of days, and there are already some amazing levels popping up. Just image what will be on the servers in 12 months’ time. The possibilities are endless!
Play it your way - I’m squealing like a school girl about the creation possibilities, but they aren’t for everyone and Media Molecule recongises that. If you want to play it as a straightforward platformer, there’s nothing stopping you. On the other end of the spectrum, you can spend days mastering the creation tools and developing a masterpiece that will become the buzz of Internet forums. How invested you become in the game is really up to you, and either way, LittleBigPlanet 2 will offer a compelling experience.
New Versus Mode - LittleBigPlanet 2 introduces a head-to-head versus mode that pits you against other Sack Things in a range of different levels. These are basically mini-games that can be played with the friends next to you or online to add even more versatility. More importantly, they add something extra to the actual gameplay of LBP2.
A stunning landscape - LittleBigPlanet 2 is an aesthetic masterpiece. It looks amazing in every sense of the word, with vibrant out-of-this-world landscapes, and characters made of out raw materials that look the part for reasons you can’t quite put your finger on. Even when creating your own worlds, LittleBigPlanet 2 allows the budding artist inside of you to convey scenes of sheer beauty that you alone could never have achieved.
What LittleBigPlanet 2 Got Wrong:
Enemies are the weak link - Enemies in LittleBigPlanet 2 aren’t up to the high standard of the rest of the game. They’re too awkward and not what you would expect to find in a platformer. While the "jump on their head" move is standard, too many foes disrupt the rhythm of the level and feel terribly out of place, even among the lunacy of the backgrounds. Likewise, the tools to design your own opponents are rubbish compared to the comprehensive set offered to create the level. Bad enemies are normally a deal breaker, but that isn’t the case in LittleBigPlanet 2. While it’s a platformer, it’s different to every game in the genre you’ve ever played. The lack of decent enemies is still a problem, but it’s not a core component as you would normally expect, and can be overlooked when the game has so much more going for it.
It won’t impress everyone - This is a fault on gamers’ part rather than LittleBigPlanet 2, but it’s a concern that has to be addressed, especially if the original game didn’t appeal to you. LittleBigPlanet starts a little slow and very similar to the past game. It’s not bad by any stretch of the imagination, but it gets much better an hour into proceedings and only then really starts to captivate players.
No improvements to gameplay - The gameplay has been kept exactly the same, presumably to keep previous levels compatible; however, that means problems with the basic platforming haven’t been addressed. The biggest issue is Sack Boy’s floating jump; it doesn’t have the fluency we’ve grown accustom to over the past 25 years. At the end of the day it’s something you just have to accept. This is how LittleBigPlanet 2 was designed to play, get over it. That said, it was a publicized problem two years ago, so it’s strange to see Media Molecule stick to their guns with a game that’s all about what is best for the community at large.
The Final Verdict
LittleBigPlanet 2 is an amazing game that can be appreciated no matter how much time you invest. While getting involved in the community and creation aspects of the game is what LittleBigPlanet 2 is all about, it’s still a worthwhile experience if you only want to play through the pre-designed 30 stage campaign. Its striking good looks and more indepth creation tools, combined with the improved single player, make LittleBigPlanet 2 a worthy sequel. Better yet, it is one of the only games on the PS3 that will continue to get better with age. As the community expands and players come to grips with the idiosyncrasies of the creation tools, levels that exceed your wildest expectations will make their way onto PSN.
By Ben Salter
Amazing gameplay that keeps getting better as you discover more of LittleBigPlanet 2.
One of the best looking games on PS3, it’s mesmerizing.
Great music and voice overs by Stephen Fry.
With so much community involvement, you’ll be playing for years.
A fantastic sequel.