I didn’t think there could be anything cuter than Sackboy but then I met the Sackbots… Oh my Media Molecule, how you have outdone yourselves. It doesn’t stop there either when you see the animal robots that you ride in particular Hamstertron 2000. The Bee 2.0 also showcases in some memorable levels that take you in new unexpected directions and that is one of the ways LBP 2 justifies its existence. With LBP 1, Media Molecule effectively created a game that needed no sequel, it could live on indefinitely thanks to users creating new levels in varied and imaginative ways, thankfully MM saw otherwise.
They have more than justified LBP 2’s existence, firstly, with its inclusion of an all new story mode and new characters. The brilliantly depressed calendar called Clive – he’d tell you his days are numbered but then he would, he’s a calendar. As well as Avalon “I was just distracting him, so you could land the killer blow!” whom make up a memorable cast headed up by Larry Da Vinci. They need your help to save Craftworld from being destroyed by the Negativitron, think a new rave dyson straight from hell and you get the idea! Cut scenes have also been added with camera angles so there’s not too much listening of gibberish by inanimate characters as they now talk and are properly voice acted. You travel through themed worlds which are each hosted by a specific character to complete the story in the same vain as LBP 1. There is more consistency in the narrative as you jump from one level to the next without the story ever feeling forced to include a new environment where as the first felt like a compilation of themes. The worlds all feature excellent level design as you would expect considering MM hired players who had created the best levels on LBP 1. Mercifully they have now Separated boss fights into their own levels resulting in obtaining an ace a lot less frustrating than the 1st. One drawback though is that a few of the worlds look a bit too similar thanks to a lack of variation, none of the worlds feature the originality of LBP 1’s The Wedding although to be fair that was always going to be dead hard to top.
The new vehicles make a dramatic change to gameplay offering up new gameplay genres, most of the vehicles are based on animals though rather than actual vehicles like cars in the 1st LBP. As you would expect these offer up a new level of cuteness with the RoboBun (see below) and MechaPup along with many more. The Segway styled roller, really made me stand up and take notice through, through its inventiveness allowing you can flip between floor and ceiling to navigate the level. Vehicles are not the only thing to enjoy a wide variety of in LBP 2 though with an assortment of weapons appearing and not all of them lethal with the Creatinator firing a range of ammunition from paint to water and even jam – perfect for getting you out of a sticky spot… or making one. LBP 2 really gets creative when it allows you to shoot objects, in the campaign you’re able to shoot cakes that you use as a platform to avoid fire pits etc. In creator mode you’re even able to decide what the Creatinator will fire, you can only imagine what the community will come up with? Cat Cannon anyone? Not all weapons are offensive though, with Grabinators allowing you to pick up heavy objects and the grappling hook which has the biggest impact on gameplay. It can be used to pull switches from afar as well as traversing long gaps, I found it tricky to get to grips with and don’t always feel in complete control but it’s definitely fun to swing around and work out how to swing to reach new places.
Speaking of the create mode it is more advanced than ever thanks to the introduction of the Controllinator. This is what allows the levels which completely change the genre of LBP 2 by designating what function each button as in the level and not just on sackboy, it can be controlling a spaceship, car or absolutely anything that can be made. You can even import photos from your hard drive as well as record your own speech to place it into your levels. Unfortunately/ironically create mode is just “Like riding an old unicycle whilst juggling bricks” as Stephen Fry mentions in a tutorial, I still found it time consuming and too tedious to want to create my own levels. Fortunately though this may just be a personal problem for this impatient and unimaginative reviewer as the community is stuffed to the brim with quality levels to play. Thankfully these brilliant levels are now easier to find with the introduction of http://lbp.me/ you can be shown levels through a forum or Twitter and then queue them up for the next time you jump on LBP 2, you can even share that last amazing level you played via a recent list. Within the Community section there are also more methods of browsing levels e.g. via type such as versus or co-op along with MM picks which serves as a great way to find excellent levels that the developers themselves are fans of.
Every level of LBP 2 always offers something new, just when you’ve got the hang of the grappling hook the Grabinators are introduced and you have a new skill set to learn. This constant evolving keeps the story mode feeling fresh throughout and is an absolute joy. There are tonnes of new features with unlock-able Pins (it’s like cub scouts all over again) similar to Uncharted 2’s medals system but there are many more to earn than trophies. Speaking of trophies, some of them are genius including the “Who needs breakfast?” where you have to play before 9am although it’s between midnight and 9am so it proved a little easier to earn that I feared. The graphics have also seen improvement with new effects and a much steadier frame rate leading to a generally more pleasurable gaming experience.
That’s the best way to describe LittleBigPlanet 2; a pleasurable gaming experience that manages to be cute, charming and challenging all at the same time. It’s more than answered the questions on whether it needs to exist by questioning whether other games need to now that almost any genre of game can be created. Ok I’m exaggerating a little but LittleBigPlanet 2 is more than just a LittleBitGood.
* A copy of LittleBigPlanet 2 was provided to PS3Blog.net by SCEE for reviewing purposes. The story mode was played to completion and creat mode was dabbled with. Many community levels were tested including the Hungry Hungry Hippos level which was repeatedly played.
This review is based on a retail copy of the PS3 version of LittleBigPlanet 2 provided by SCEE.
Written by: Trev
- Contributing Editor