Mar 10, 2011

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Review: LittleBigPlanet 2

From the moment in 2008 that LittleBigPlanet was introduced to millions of gamers, it was clear that Media Molecule had come across a hit title. Fast forward nearly three years and Media Molecule has brought forward another entry in the Create/Play/Share genre. Does LittleBigPlanet 2 still have that charm that wowed us when we first laid eyes on all the possibilities that LittleBigPlanet gave us? Dear friend, I would have to say, no. Instead, it builds on the foundation of the first title., and creates a more expansive experience.

As with the original, the single player game offers a campaign mode for those who don’t want to jump right into creating levels and/or playing community levels. It’s not just the amount of levels, story-wise or challenge, that give you a sense of what Media Molecule has expanded on with this sequel, it is all the different types of gameplay. One moment you could be tossing cupcakes to take out a huge spider-like creature, then you may find yourself using a bumblebee to take out the threat that plagues a spaceship full of Sackbots. These different level designs work perfectly with the story. As a Sackperson, you traverse six unique worlds, hoping to save them from a nefarious beast called the Negativitron. Each world has levels that show off what the creators of LittleBigPlanet have learned between the first title’s release and this one’s. All the characters are a lovable bunch, with Avalon and Higginbotham being the two I instantly adored. The story mode serves not only to tell a tale of Sackboy’s latest adventure, but also as a way to show off how to use the new and interesting tools that LittleBigPlanet 2 brings to gamers.

The graphics for this game improve upon the impressive ones from the original. One thing that stood out to me was the many additions in materials to be used when creating your level. Also, the textures that you can change your Sackboy into really impress me. One such texture gives your Sackboy a slightly glowing, color-changing skin. The visuals for the levels really shine as you progress through them.

When playing through those graphically pleasing levels, your ears will be treated to one of the better soundtracks that I’ve heard. The tunes seem to be heavily inspired by many different genres, from classical to the groovy sounds of the ’70s. However, something that LittleBigPlanet 2 has that was not available in the first title is voice acting. Yes, both games feature the amazing Steven Fry as the narrator. But the sequel uses voices for the characters you meet during the story mode. Each one is a perfect fit in my opinion and adds to the reasons I fell in love with the many wacky characters.

The story mode is roughly eight hours. While that might not be lengthy enough for some, you should remember that with a title such as LittleBigPlanet 2, chances are that you’re not getting it for just the story mode. It is a safe bet, however, that you will lose track of the hours spent crafting that perfect level that you envisioned in your mind or from playing all the levels that other gamers have posted for the world to enjoy. Replayability for the story might possibly be short-lived once you get all the prize bubbles, but you will have plenty to keep you occupied.

While the story mode is enjoyable, let’s get to what I believe is the meat of LittleBigPlanet 2: the gameplay. Following the Play. Create. Share. motto that was first seen on the box art of Media Molecule’s LittleBigPlanet, the PlayStation 3 sequel really expands on the “create” and improves the “sharing” aspects of the series-wide motto. New tools are provided for Sackboy to use. They include the creatinator and the grabinator. The creatinator is the perfect helmet for spitting out most anything your mind can think of. In the story mode, its arsenal is limited to cakes and water. And with the grabinator, it should be easy to guess what function it has. When equipped, it allows your Sackboy/girl to grab and tote most anything or anyone. While this was sort of touchy in the first game (you could drag some objects but not lift them), this special pair of gloves proves helpful when you need to toss something over a section of lava or an object onto the lava to create a pathway. One of LittleBigPlanet 2‘s greatest (in my opinion) additions is the Sackbots. These robotic versions of Sackboy can be programmed to run in fear of him or to rush towards him in adoration. But this is not all the bots are capable of. In fact, you can program them to do a multitude of actions and alter their appearance from the basic wooden look to that of a Sackperson. In the create mode, all the tools come together to help the inspired to design and develop levels to show off to the world.

 

The online multiplayer portion of the game, as I’m sure most gamers are aware, is a very important feature to this game and ultimately the genre. LittleBigPlanet 2 follows in its predecessor’s footsteps, while also making its own pathway, by improving how easy it is to access user-created levels and even levels that are handpicked by Media Molecule. Up to four players can band together to complete a level, either story mode or community based. One complaint that I had was the trouble connecting to someone else’s game. Either it would time out or the lag would force me to restart the game. Luckily, having to restart the game was a rare deal as I only had to do so once. But the lag in general can prove to be a problem. I’ve only really experienced it when trying to connect to another player’s game and when traversing between levels.

LittleBigPlanet 2 is perfect for those who enjoyed the first title. Though there were a couple tiny issues (with the lag being my biggest complaint), the overall experience with the story mode and community levels well makes up for it. This title is, I believe, one of the PlayStation 3′s greatest to date, and will remain a shining example of what can come to fruition when you give the right tools to creative gamers.

LittleBigPlanet 2
Platform: PS3
Genre: Platformer
Release Date: 01/18/2011
Developer: Media Molecule
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
MSRP: $59.99


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About Elizabeth Burnette

Traversing the world of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. Catch me on Twitter @TheLiztress and on the PS3 at The_Liztress