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Review

Review: LittleBigPlanet 2

You're sacked.

LittleBigPlanet 2, from start to finish, is an absolute joy. Not that the finish is particularly well defined, of course, because anyone familiar with the first game (or indeed, the PSP iteration) will know all too well that more than half of the experience is the ability for the player to dump hours upon hours of time into the Create portion, long after you’ve beaten the story mode. 

And the sequel, despite being mostly similar to Media Molecule’s initial PS3 release, goes above and beyond with regards to opening up the flexible engine to all manner of user-generated content.

You’ll know the basics, naturally, from the recent beta and demo, but the story mode goes well beyond your expectations within just a few levels, the much improved camera and lighting controls meaning that the game now plays host to ‘proper’ game-like cut-scenes and animation sequences that feature close-ups and snappy editing more akin to regular console titles.  It’s actually startling what you (and the developers) can do with the Create mode now and although the current pick of downloadable levels concentrate on playable games (some of which are amazing already) there’s no reason at all why you couldn’t use LBP 2 for machinima of all descriptions.

But back to that story mode which is, thankfully, mostly wonderful.  There might only be a smattering of chapters but each is nicely populated with their own levels (of varying sizes and complexity) and they’re as widely individual as the first game could offer.  More so, perhaps, with the sequel – there’s some real highlights here and because there’s a concurrent plot running through the game it all seems to make a little more sense, especially as you’re now playing through levels that are linked together; the characterisation is top notch, the difficulty curve is nice and smooth and as a single player experience it would win the heart of any platformer fan without breaking a sweat even if some portions throw up the same kind of tricks as the first game did.

Naturally, though, Media Molecule haven’t just built in some new levels and called it a sequel – there’s some brand new gadgets (such as the grappling hook and the ability to grab objects and throw them around) and the introduction of Sackbots is a masterstroke that we’ll leave you to discover for yourselves.  In addition, the slick way the game practically invites multiple players into the fray improves the whole thing even further – entering the action is simply a case of tapping the PS button on a spare controller and whilst there’s still a few sections that only open up with a friend it remains an unrivalled joy to play through LittleBigPlanet 2 with a buddy or two, the interaction between the Sackboys a delight (try attaching your hook to a friend as he attempts to leap over a chasm for an easy giggle).

As with LittleBigPlanet, you’ll collect items, stickers and materials as you progress, the game’s handy percentages next to each level on the world map a compulsive device to ensure that you won’t be leaving any fluffy bit of sponge unturned as you spend far longer than you’d ever think in each area desperately hunting out each and every last trinket.  All of which will mean that your time in the Create mode is more richly rewarded – the more things you have to create your own concoctions with the better, although by the time you’re through the first themed world you’ll be more than ready to start dabbling with whatever you’ve got.

Your milage, as they say, will vary, but this time around Media Molecule have given you the tools to effectively create anything.  Yes, you’ll need time, patience and a huge amount of imagination (unless you’re riffing on another existing game or movie, of course) but those of a creative persuation with adore what LittleBigPlanet 2 allows – it’s literally staggering what’s already out there in terms of content built just from the beta and once those players get their hands on the full version we can only guess at what’s going to be available online.  Cleverly, LBP 2 lets you filter your searches for either or both games, so you can happily flog your first copy and just pick up this one without fear of losing the ability to get the best levels created in LittleBigPlanet.

There’s a bigger emphasis on the player himself, too, with a section dedicated to your online profile which includes a comments area and the ability to adorn your avatar with a small selection of badges, additional commendations achieved during the game that aren’t necessarily Trophies – they’re cool, and hopefully grabbing the most exclusive badges will be a substantial challenge to warrant their inclusion in the available slots.  The idea’s been done before, but not with this amount of charm and interconnectivity – LBP 2’s online portion is considerably more substantial than we’d have imagined and – yes – finding the best levels is now much easier.

Visually it’s a little richer – whether Media Molecule have managed to wrangle more out of the PS3 or whether they’ve discovered new tricks isn’t really relevant, the game again looks wonderful throughout and although there’s a slightly fussy look to the game it’s all in keeping with the character – a few rough edges certainly don’t harm the overall sheen and although some levels don’t feel as perfectly crafted as others, they’re all great fun.  The particle effects are beautiful, though, and the gloopy liquids are nice to play around in. Likewise, aurally it’s superb, with the return of Fry giving the voiceovers some gravitas which are nicely acted from all characters throughout and genuinely funny in places.

We’re impressed. LittleBigPlanet 2 might not be perfect (a few minor bugs surfaced in our build, those that the first game alienated won’t find anything to change their minds and some levels often feel like tutorials for those wanting to dive in and make their own) but it’s pretty much one of the best games this generation for PlayStation 3 owners even if by virtue of its ridiculously expansive Create mode. With that, the developers have built something that, once again, has shown everyone else how to make a videogame that shatters all boundaries and transcends anything else on the market for those willing to invest the time.

Pros:

  • Breathtaking user-creation tools
  • Compelling, inventive story
  • Multiplayer is wonderful
  • Integrates nicely with your LBP content

Cons:

  • Controls are still a little tricky, Sackboy’s jump still occasionally frustrates
  • Won’t entice anyone not a fan of the first
  • Create mode still needs plenty of time to get the most out of it

Reviewing a game that will effectively evolve and grow with the user content (much as the first did) isn’t as tough as you might think – the game comes complete in terms of on-disk content and although the online creation aspect will flourish rapidly, it’ll only ever improve the experience.  There’s a wealth of entertainment to be had with LittleBigPlanet 2 – it’s a game like no other and with no equal in terms of the flexibility it offers to gamers.  It boils down to this: if you liked the first game and want more, get the second – it’s bigger and better in every way and absolutely deserves a place in your PS3.

Score: 9/10


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59 Comments
  1. bap10
    Member
    Since: Apr 2009

    Great review. Can not wait to get my hands on it.

    Comment posted on 04/01/2011 at 18:55.
  2. icuyesido
    Member
    Since: Jan 2010

    Great review nofi, it’s nice to see TSA getting this so early.

    Comment posted on 04/01/2011 at 19:00.
  3. TSBonyman
    Member
    Since: Dec 2009

    Great review , i love the first game and will be picking this up day one!

    Comment posted on 04/01/2011 at 20:43.
  4. MXZ
    Member
    Since: Jul 2010

    Great review.

    the next 16 days are going to feel like forever……..i need chocalate.

    Comment posted on 04/01/2011 at 21:06.
  5. BigCheese
    Member
    Since: Feb 2009

    Very nice review. Sounds like another no for me, just because the first was a bit childish for me, and me not being skilled/ patient enough to build decent levels. Although I’m not realy a fan of LBP, have to admit, buy the sounds of it, they’ve improved heavily on an already solid title. Good start to the gaming year.

    Comment posted on 04/01/2011 at 21:49.
  6. Jumping Monks
    Legend
    Since: Jan 2009

    Oh I am pleased the full thing is good. Having played the beta to death, and checking out the demo, it looked promising to me. Great job on getting the review out so early btw.

    Comment posted on 04/01/2011 at 22:39.
  7. SpikeyMikey23
    Member
    Since: Jul 2009

    gonna wait for the price to crash on this one. hardly touched the 1st one and unfortunatley I do not have the time for creating. rather wait a while and then have 1000’s of others peoples creations to try.

    Comment posted on 05/01/2011 at 07:33.
  8. freezebug2
    Member
    Since: Dec 2008

    I wonder if the online play with more than two players will work properly in this version because after multiple patch updates in LBP 1 they never got around to fixing it…3 or more players in a level online and the lag was unbearable let alone unplayable.
    Very nice and thorough review by the way.

    Comment posted on 05/01/2011 at 09:19.
  9. Hoopiness
    Member
    Since: Sep 2009

    I really enjoyed the first one, but barely touched the create side beyond the trophy stuff. I might pick this up eventually but I’ll wait on a large price drop first I think.

    Comment posted on 05/01/2011 at 11:13.
  10. Michael
    Team TSA: Development
    Since: Forever

    Great review. LBP was a revelation when it was released, but I ultimately tired of the single-player and the Create was too pernickety. That said, Day One for me :-)

    Comment posted on 05/01/2011 at 13:09.

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