With over 80 industry awards and more than three million user-generated levels currently available for the original LittleBigPlanet via the PlayStation Network, a sequel was never in doubt. And it’s the focus on creating and sharing your unique levels that leads the charge for what the sequel is all about. Of course there’s another historically rich story mode to hop, grapple and swing your way through, but it’s the new tools, stickers, costumes, equipment and gadgets you’ll collect along the way, for use in the vastly expanded Create mode, that will keep you coming back for months here.
If you spent the majority of your time with the original LBP creating and sharing levels with your friends and the wider LBP community, you can sleep easy knowing that all your hard work will be compatible with LBP2. What’s, Sony promises that levels created in the original game will look even better when fired up using the revamped LBP2 graphics engine. Any bought downloadable content from the original can also be used in the sequel as well. What you can’t do is play any LBP2 content from inside the original game. But why would you want to, if you own the sequel?
Back to LBP2 though, and the 40 story levels are stretched across six very different themes. These include Techno Renaissance, Steampunk and Cake, Neon Propaganda, Fluffy High-Tech, Designer Organic and Hand-made Arcade. While the core platforming element of the gameplay remains largely unchanged, developer Media Molecule has trumped the original and created an amazingly entertaining and wonderfully rich story mode for you and up to four friends (online and offline) to work through. Every pixel of the screen just oozes quality, from the unique visual art direction to the animations that thrust your little Sackboy around the screen. There’s also a greater variety of side mission and bonus levels to seek out this time round that aren’t just straight A to B platforming.
New items thrown into the mix include the grapple hook and power gloves. But instead of something like the grapple hook being used to just traverse tall objects, it’s used in some incredibly inventive ways to enrich the gameplay, much like Nintendo would use Link’s Grapple Hook. On several occasions you’ll find yourself having to judge the length of your grapple chord perfectly or risk death as you swing, lower and lob yourself through some of the game’s trickier levels.
Outside of the story mode though, it’s the revamped Create mode that you’ll be itching to dive into. The good news is that things are much easier to get your head around in the sequel. And that’s because this area of the original turned out to be so popular (as evident by the millions of user-generated levels), it’s now the main focus of the franchise. MM doesn’t just want you to create a short platforming sequence to share with your mates; it wants you to create 2D shooters, racing games and other genres we haven’t thought of yet to share with the world. You may occasionally get stuck when turning your creative vision into a gaming reality, but the answers are usually in there somewhere. It all boils down to how much time and effort you’re willing to put into it. This and long load times were my only real gripes against the game. Tutorials are easy to sift through, uploading levels to the internet is simple, and browsing other levels to download and play is cake.
If you own a PlayStation Eye you can use it to take pictures of anything you fancy (nothing rude though, warns narrator Stephen Fry) to give your level a personal touch. And for the Move evangelists among you, LittleBigPlanet 2 will include a 10-level demo that will give you a good taster of how the motion controller can be used in the game. Creating your own cut scenes is also easier than before, thanks to a host of new cinematic tools. You can now take full control of things like camera position, and movements such as zooming, tilting and even shaking. If that wasn’t enough, why not record voiceovers for your Sackboys?
There’s loads more I’d love to say about the game, but I’m going to have to wrap this up. If the above words haven’t convinced you to get involved, then just head on over to YouTube and take a look at what people created in the recently held beta. I guarantee you’ll be amazed, and it’ll make you think about what your own creative imagination could bring to the party.