LittleBigPlanet 2 - PS3 Review
Months ago when we heard that LittleBigPlanet 2 wouldn't make Christmas 2010 we were shattered, and indeed Sony too must have been disappointed given the lack of big titles besides a certain Polyphony Digital racer. But a month on from Christmas Media Molecule's sequel to their 4-million selling LittleBigPlanet is here right now. The first game was an experiment of sorts - would people like to Play a game, Create levels and Share them with the world? The answer was a very big yes, but what can this sequel bring new to the table?
|Creature design in LittleBigPlanet 2 is superb.|
Happy that no more demands are being made to him after his successful adventure to return sharing to LittleBigPlanet, it’s all going swimmingly for Sackboy... That is, until a some kind of inter-dimensional, hyper-spatial, 1800 watt Vacuum Cleaner appears in the skies, causing quite the ruckus and sucking Sackboy up into its musty bowels. All jolly sinister and most inconvenient.
Happily, a jolly nice fellow named Larry Da Vinci intervenes and rescues him from what has come to be known as The Sucker. Da Vinci, it turns out, is in charge of “The Alliance”, a semi-secret, semi-organised group devoted to fighting The Sucker before it destroys the whole Cosmos. You’re about to get recruited, I’ll bet my teeth! A grand adventure is afoot, with a butt-load of new themes, toys, enemies and all manner of shenanigans.
|Getting a new costume for Sackgirl.|
As with the original game there are three aspects to this game - Play, Create, Share. The play aspect comes via the campaign mode or the downloadable levels (more on them later). Indeed the 30-odd mission campaign mode is that Media Molecule have really created new levels that introduce new gameplay elements, but also have a visual style that is rather unique, with unique locations and plenty of puzzle-solving aspects. One level, for instance, gives you a gun where you can fire out cupcakes to take out enemies, but these can also be used to stop machinery, or create platforms to reach higher levels and hidden areas. The actual storyline, and cut-scenes, are much more detailed then the original game, and have quite a bit more humour too.
Controls are similar to the first game, and yes, Sackboy is still quite 'floaty' during jumps - however that's how the developers want the game to play, and you do get used to it. Levels in the campaign mode still play as a 2D side-scroller with three planes, or levels, of depth meaning Sackboy can move in the foreground, background or middle plane with many collectables - such as point bubbles, textures, music or items - hidden behind objects. He does have plenty of tools at his disposal including a grappling hook, the ability to flick switches, use jump pads to gain massive heights and so much more. It's still possible to move around Sackboy's arms, tilt his head by tilting the controller, and change his facial expressions using the D-pad.
|Sackboy gets denied...|
While you can play the campaign on your own, when you enter each of the levels you can also select to play online where you will be joined by up to three other gamers to complete the levels together and yet again there are some sections that will require several players to work together. Even if you have no intentions to play the user-generated content you will spend hours discovering all the hidden items through the campaign mode.
The second aspect to this game is the creation which is where you get to use your noodle and create levels within a special creation tool. This is where the game has undergone it's biggest changes as you are no longer restricted to platform styled levels, but can create different genres (think shooters, racers, RPG's among others) for the levels including creation of cut-scenes to tell a story. You can create more intelligent enemies, or Sackbots, generate your own music though the music sequencer. By far the biggest change is that while each level you create has memory requirements to meet you can now use a teleporter to link several levels together to create a longer level broken up into sections rather then return to the pod after each section. It seems that Media Molecule have spent quite a bit of time here beefing up the options, but they have also worked on the interface to create levels and, while it still takes a bit of work, is considerably more streamlined this time around.
|Visually LittleBigPlanet 2 improves on the original.|
The final part of the motto is "Share" and as you probably already know it's possible to share your generated content with other gamers around the world. This is one aspect to the LittleBigPlanet franchise which has exceeded all expectations - ours, Sony's and Media Molecules. Indeed right now the number of user generated levels is quickly pushing towards 4 million levels. Each of these can be rated by gamers and the game has a reporting system for offensive content - something most applicable now that you can use the PlayStation Eye to take photographs and include them within levels.
So let's talk about the disappointments we have with the game - and admittedly this really is nitpicking as Media Molecule have created a sequel which improves on the original in almost every area which is quite the achievement considering how complete that first game was. Other issue we have with the game revolve around loading times which are decent on the levels included on the disc, but the user created ones can take a while to download - and we do have a pretty fast connection here. In terms of the campaign's storyline it's certainly wacky and moderately entertaining, but it's nowhere near as engaging as we expected. The cut-scenes seem more like book ends with only moderate relevance to the levels themselves - while they're better than those in the original game, they still needed a bit more work.
|Yes, even shooters are possible in LBP2.|
Another disappointment is the lack of support for the PlayStation Move which is currently at work at Media Molecule. While there were hopes that this would be included in the launch product, the developers didn't get it working in time, and are now aiming for a post-release patch to include support. Still, it's not end of the world that it's missing. But that brings us to the next topic...
|Hanging with some Sackbots.|
One little bonus which is included on the LittleBigPlanet 2 disc which we didn't expect was the inclusion of Sackboy's Prehistoric Moves which is the only aspect of this release that does indeed include PlayStation Move Support. This title has been available on the PlayStation Store and while it's not the greatest game ever released is a nice little bonus that gives a small insight into the potential of Move in the series.
Visually this game is impressive, very impressive in fact. While the original title looked great, this sequel seems to do everything a whole lot better, with more visual flare, some better visual effects, and better cut-scenes and a range of camera angles which, in the user-generated levels, provides a much larger scope for customisation and new gameplay ideas. Impressively even levels created in the first game get a visual boost when played through LittleBigPlanet 2.
|It's possible to make cut-scenes, and music, in the LBP2 level creation tools.|
Another of the biggest boosts from the original game is the improvements made to the cut-scenes which are much more entertaining but also more whacky with some superbly designed characters. In-game the frame rate is pretty solid with only the odd momentary pause, most often when you are playing online.
Not to be outdone the audio in LittleBigPlanet 2 is also impressive with a wide range of catchy tunes, familiar sound effects (it could be that the bubbles bursting will soon have the same "recognition" as the rings in Sonic titles or the jumps in Mario. Voice acting in the game is pretty good, and Stephen Fry has returned as the main narrator for the game. New to this sequel is the ability to record your own voice to include in your own levels, and also the ability to create your own music through a program which, admittedly, we haven't spent nearly enough time in to get to grips with.
|Time to run Sackboy...|
LittleBigPlanet was a groundbreaking title for Sony, and a phenomenal success on the Playstation 3. This sequel offers so much more including a better storyline mode, better tools to create a wider range of gameplay styles, improved visuals and more spit and polish overall. Whether you bought the original game or gave it a miss there is no reason at all to ignore this stunning sequel. LittleBigPlanet 2 is a brilliant, essential, purchase.
Review By: Dave Warner
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|GRAPHICS||The original game was already slick, but this sequel refines everything considerbly.||95%|
|SOUND||If you recall the original games audio then you'll know what to expect here. It's upbeat and catchy.||90%|
|GAMEPLAY||While the main storyline is primarily platform based the home made levels are varied, and often quite exceptional.||94%|
|VALUE||Still a little questionable if you're offline only, but go online and there are millions of levels to enjoy.||95%|
|OVERALL||LittleBigPlanet 2 is every bit the sequel we had hoped for with improved visuals, tighter gameplay and millions of fan created levels. If you were silly enough to ignore the original there's no better time to jump on board. If you bought the original, this sequel is well worth the upgrade price.||94%|