LittleBigPlanet 2 Review
Posted by Nathan Michalik
Move your Sackthing!
Sackboys and Sackgirls, lend us your ears! Craft World is in trouble! The Negativatron (basically an evil vacuum cleaner) is sucking up all the fun and dreams out of Craft World! It’s up to you to take control of your little Sackperson and save the planet from the Negativatron with help from your allies "The Alliance".
To describe all the gameplay designs and characteristics inside of LittleBigPlanet 2 would take a lifetime. The core of the game focuses on being a simple platformer, as you navigate from one side of a level to another by jumping, using various tools and avoiding deadly obstacles like fire. Throughout the story players will encounter different minigames and challenges as well as some intense boss fights. Veterans of the first LittleBigPlanet will be right at home.
The story levels are brilliantly laid out, ranging from real historic periods in the world to completely far-fetched environments. Each has its own matching prizes to collect via prize bubbles, including outfits stickers and or objects to customise your character and world. The sheer amount of total prize bubbles in the game is staggering and will take some serious commitment to collect them all.
Each stage is also scored, encouraging competition to achieve the high scores. Players can obtain points by collecting point bubbles, finishing certain levels quickly, or achieving certain goals. Once the level is completed, a scoreboard shows you where you rank in the world amongst your fellow Sackpeople.
The most prominent feature of LittleBigPlanet universe is of course the ability to create, play and share your own levels and games. Media Molecule marketed the game as “a platform for games” and gave people almost full control over their own content. The sheer number of levels and different games that people have already created over the past couple years in LBP is absolutely staggering: from all-original RPGs to recreations of classic Nintendo/Sega games, Create Mode has really allowed gamers to open up and demonstrate their creative capabilities unlike any game ever before. There can be a bit of a learning curve to adequately creating your own levels, but Media Molecule offers an extensive tutorial to ease gamers in.
The addition to Create Mode not only means that players will be able to make their own levels, but they are also able to publish them online for people around the world to play: it even holds a Guinness World Record for “Most player-created levels in one video game.”
While LBP2 can be fun for people of all ages, the difficulty ranges from extremely straightforward to pretty complex puzzles and boss fights; the kind of game that nearly anyone can enjoy while still posing challenges for everyone. For example, to achieve some of the prize bubbles, players need to solve some tricky teasers that sometimes require team work of four different players. If the puzzles to reach these trinkets are too much, ignore them and proceed on with the level.
Up to four people can play any of the story levels together either on the same console, via PlayStation Network and any mix and match of the two, and user-generated levels can also be played online with anywhere between two and four players. Not all of the levels are teamwork oriented either; LBP2 contains a slew of competitive minigames that pit gamers against each other in a series of challenges.
The music in LBP2 is among the best you’ll hear in a video game. The songs are not only great on their own, but the way they blend with the setting and environment is absolutely stunning. The mood of the game is also directly complimented by both the sounds and visuals; in a dark and depressing time, players will notice a drop in colors and slower music, yet while the action is building, one might hear pounding techno and witness flashing lights. All of these aspects together really immerse the gamer into Craft World.
While LBP2 originally came with the Move branding on the box, but the actual game lacked any real support for the controller, instead offering players the ability to download Sackboy’s Prehistoric Moves game. With the recent addition of the LBP2 Move Pack: Rise of the Cakeling, players can now play the entire game with PlayStation Move as well as some all-new story levels. To play with the motion controller, players must also use either a Navigation or DualShock 3 controller in conjunction with Move.
There's almost no learning curve when using the Move controller as opposed to just the standard controller; you’ll still move with the left thumbstick and jump with either X or the Move button. The only real additional control you’ll receive is the ability to use a new hat called the “Movinator” which allows players to manipulate certain aspects of the environment, for instance moving an obstacle out of the way or cranking a leaver to raise a platform.
While you can use the Move controller in Create Mode, Media Molecule recommends still using the standard controller instead as it offers more functionality. Unlike the normal gameplay, it takes a while to get used to using the Move controller in Create Mode.
The Movinator is also usable in user-generated levels to be played by anyone who has purchased the Move Pack, hopefully yielding exciting player-created levels in the future. This will be one of the first times players will have the ability to create their own PlayStation Move games without actually needing to know how to create games and without the expense of the Move.Me platform.
While the newly added Move Pack offers players some truly one of a kind opportunities to make their own games, the actual story maps that come packaged are somewhat lacking. Compared to the standard LBP2 story levels and Sackboy’s Prehistoric Moves levels, Rise of the Cakeling's stages don’t offer the same level of excitement. The pack also only contains six actual story levels which branch off into seven Move-enabled mini games — while a few of the minigames are a lot of fun, the entire package doesn’t seem to live up to the LBP standard especially considering how long it took to finally release Move support.
Overall, LittleBigPlanet 2 is simply a wonderful game that can be enjoyed by just about any person, gamer or not. Its Play Create Share slogan really isn’t some marketing gimmick: given the time in Create Mode, it is unbelievable what people are actually making. The story is fantastic, the sound and artwork are phenomenal, and Move controls are superb. The only thing that keeps this game from a perfect score is the sub-par implementation of actual Move support in the new levels, particularly considering how long it actually took to implement these stages.
Highly recommended for all types of gamers, but wait for a price drop on the Move Pack unless you’re a fanatic curious to design your own Move-enabled games.