Media Molecule help kick start 2011 by releasing the sequel to their flagship Playstation 3 title, LittleBigPlanet.
For many gamers, the obvious disappointment from the recent festive season was not finding Sackboy’s latest adorable adventure nestled safely in their Christmas stocking. It was less than a month later however that the promising sequel was shelved for our enjoyment, both for the lovers of a quick run around, and the masters of ‘Create and Share’ craftsmanship.
For the gamers who are able to resist getting their hands on the new interactive tools available, the highly polished story mode of this title was more than enough to convince you of the dramatic changes made since the original experience. Whereas before the latter cloaked itself in a ‘building blocks’ concept, it was all too clear that the new found, laser-lavished environment was enough to get our plush knitted friend overwhelmed with excitement.
As your LittleBigPlanet 2 (commonly abbreviated as LBP2) journey begins, a nifty piece of save file compatibility sends your familiarly dressed companion from the previous title springing to life, allowing even the most laid back players to feel right at home. After a short gander over Media Molecule’s pre-designed bliss, it becomes apparent that their team of only 40 enthusiasts have created a game that is certainly designed to stick in the mind, and this is before the true gift has been opened.
To aid the welcome back feel, the warm-hearted Stephen Fry reprises his role as narrator, but unlike before he is not alone. Where the characters from the previous title would grunt and purr incoherently, the team at MM are aided by a splendid voice cast which flourish through the many heroes seen on screen who pipe up at any given opportunity. This helps to carry the story and lend extra atmosphere to the action. Partnering this with fluid animations and unique body language, the gathering of important heroes known as ‘The Alliance’ are lead to victory by the appropriately named Larry Da Vinci, who is but one of many lovable characters. This time around, the single player experience sends our ragdoll hero on a fun-filled quest set over six uniquely themed lands that have come under attack from the evil ‘Negativitron’, a surprisingly scary beast for such a playful game.
Determined to bring an end to the destruction, Sackboy becomes part of The Alliance in a bid to restore peace to the games overall setting of ‘Craftworld’, a planet which becomes visually modifiable as the game progresses.
With the story mode dotted with an abundance of grabbable goodies, both in the form of clothes for your Sackboy or Sackgirl, or abstract stickers that help paint such a bizarre world, players can quite happily repeat the fifty chapters as they please. This is of course, only half of the experience that Sony’s definitive sequel has to offer. Already known for its intellectual property base, LittleBigPlanet returns with not just a few switches and buttons, but a vibrant smorgasbord of gadgetry and microchips that the most basic development programmes would struggle to beat.
One of the most definitive elements of LittleBigPlanet 2 is the arsenal of Sackboy power ups made available, which can also be used in user created levels. Helpful gadgets such as the ‘Grabinators’ allow Sackboy to pick up grabbable objects high above his, and carry them around a level before casually discarding it wherever he pleases.
Whereas before LittleBigPlanet had the potential to be a smart looking project, strip away the stickers and googly eyes and the users level was a fairly traditional run and jump platformer. The arrival of the newer, cuter and smarter version however, has seen a limitless reprise in which nearly anything is possible, from top down shooters, to fantasy RPG’s and player-voiced and acted cinematics.
Although fresh faces may feel a tad overwhelmed by the sheer amount of doodads at their disposal, Media Molecule supply a wealth of tutorials so that even the most new of newcomers will be able to strap a jetpack to a cupcake and set about dominating their own world as they please. Among this, handy button commands have been added whilst in Create Mode, making level construction and AI programming all the more accessible. Turning pre-laid out objects transparent is a helpful addition, allowing players (also known as ‘Authors’) to see background creations without having to dismantle anything they wouldn’t want to.
Certain bugs have been thoroughly patched since the first game, and although many of these bugs were player beneficial in many ways (such as the famous ‘3D Layer Glitch Tool’, allowing you to create vast landscapes beyond the games previously thought limits), it has certainly been for the best, creating a more wholesome experience for all. A few minor flaws remain however, keeping the player on their toes should they decide to become over-eager when placing stickers and such. The multiplayer experience remains as polished as ever, retaining it’s ‘Play, Create, Share’ tactics which are once again adorned with extras.
A particular element of the game which players are frequently striving to be a part of is the red carpet known as the ‘MM Picks Page’. These are levels that have been personally played and ogled at by a team member at Media Molecule, and then deemed worthy of a lush pink ribbon, awarded to only the most talented of authors.
One of the largely embraced ideas brought to this new platform is the ability to decorate ‘My Earth’. The latter game gave you access to this plush planet, but its visuals remained untarnished during its two and a half year reign. This restriction has been thrown out of the window however, as every plane, oceanic ripple and continent can be decorated and coloured, so that not one players planet remains the same.
Perhaps taking a leaf from the book of social networking sites, LittleBigPlanet 2 also incorporates a now successful ‘Yay or Boo’ reviewing system, allowing fellow players to leave their most honest of opinions on the review page of any level. Although this may seem fairly sinister at first, levels which show signs of effort are usually rewarded gracefully, and as the game grows the LittleBigCommunity seems to be a pleasant place to set up your cardboard camp.
Conversing with your friends as seen before is anything but a hard ship, however server-related lag issues can sometimes result in unsuccessful leaps, sending you plummeting to an early and perhaps undeserving death. This problem with networking is far more apparent when you and your companions become bored of the community pages and head back to ‘My Moon’ (a personal library where your own levels are stored) in search of a spot of dream building. Although this flaw does become minor as connection strength increases, a poorly outfitted game will see you place more stickers and decorations that you originally intended, having an undesired effect on the level thermometer (a content-quantity based counter that climbs as larger, or more complicated shapes are added).
All in all however, these bugs are hugely overshadowed by what LittleBigPlanet 2 has to offer. As a smart, adorable and inventive title, it hands the player the key to unlock the dreamscape, where anything you can imagine is possible. With time and effort an author can create a uniquely thought up game that (should it become noticed) will be played by hundreds of thousands of Playsation 3 gamers across the globe.
Although sticking to the ‘run and jump’ theme for the most part of the story mode, this is overwhelmed by the bottomless toolbox that the game has to offer, and in return, what the players offer back.
The abundance of prizes up for grabs throughout the single player structure ensure that gamers go back for more, but once again this titles potential lies within the User Created Content edge.
Adapting their majority owned games engine, Media Molecule once again creates a game that is both visually pleasing and easily malleable, making it an enjoyable experience for all
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.