Parent Talk: LBP2 is as adorable as the original. There’s no offensive language or ultra violence here. Sure there’s comic mischief, but come on, that’s been around since long before the NES. The user-generated levels are overseen by the community, so should you find anything inappropriate, simply report it and the level is taken down. LBP2 can be enjoyed by all.
LittleBigPlanet 2 is a bigger, better LBP. It’s everything you want in a sequel. It features better creation tools, a more varied story mode, three million user-generated levels from the original, and a robust online multiplayer that is sure to keep players glued for months. However, if you disliked LBP, this sequel won’t change your mind. Quick show of hands: how many of you really hated Sackboy and friends? Yeah, I didn’t think there were many.
Controlinator. Nuff said. This feature allows you to leave Sackboy alone. It sounds intimidating, but I’ll try to explain. The controlinator enables players to select any object as the “player.” If you want to design a level where you’re a small piece of cardboard moving around the screen firing a bunch paper, it’s possible. You can even control gravity. The most interesting aspect is having full control over the input layout of your “player,” thanks to an on-screen customizable DualShock 3. Just imagine how crazy people can be with such tools! There are already underwater adventures, tower defense levels, racing games, space shooters, and so, so much more. By the end of the month we expect there to be entirely new games created within LBP2.
+ A shining story mode. Before, you knew what to expect after about the fourth level. Sure, creation tools varied things, but the core story levels played mostly the same. You navigated from point A to B and cleared the stage. Flying objects, killer environmental projectiles and nasty green clay creatures waited to cause problems. This time the variety is incredible. You go from conquering an underwater adventure to blasting through a Contra-like side-scrolling shooter. That’s but a mere taste of what lies ahead. I’ve played more than a few games in my day…and for a platformer, LBP2 offers more gameplay than any other. Yup.
+ Replay value baby! The same incentives from LBP are back. Scour each story-mode level to find all the hidden objects, stickers and more for your user-generated masterpieces later on. Not only do you achieve a higher score than your friends, but those items are essential for creation mode. After all, what would you fill your levels with?
+ Create. I could blab endlessly about the tools, but I shan’t. I will discuss some new ones though. The Sackbots, for example, completely change how players create levels. You can now include intelligent enemies that avoid hazards, follow you around and more. Power-ups are also a great addition. There’s a grappling hook, scuba gear and more, but the creatinator helment is easily the most impressive. This bad boy helps you customize your levels so Sackboy [who has the creatinator] can shoot at anything. Say you want Sackboy to be a fireman; set up the creatinator with water…and presto. Doesn’t sound exciting? How about entering Sackboy’s body to eliminate killer viruses by making the creatinator fire medicated needles? It’s mind-numbing thinking of what you can create.
+ That’s what I call audio! Yes, the music is nice and fitting, and there are loads of custom options…but say you want Sackboy to be voiced by…you, well that’s an option. Record sound clips, import them and enjoy. The in-game tuner and mixer opens the door to your own music too. Got the idea?
+ Multiplayer. Four players online, offline, and hybrid options are available. Some story-related objectives can only be completed with the help of friends. The new modes include a variety of sports games, and other mini-game-inspired diversions. Playing with others is always fun, but that doesn’t necessarily equate to perfection.
+ Reworked rating. The five-star rating system is out, “good/bad” emoticons are in. There are also written reviews, how many players completed a level, how many bookmarked it, etc. It should sound familiar, but the emoticons offer a quick visual to determine what is and isn’t worth your time. Want to see what’s really neat? Hit up http:www.lbp.me and thumb through the user-generated content right now. You can even queue a level to be waiting upon your next play session. Impressive, no?
+ From one game to the next. Everything you accomplished in LBP is transferable to LBP2. All DLC, user-generated levels and even your hub is exactly as you remember it. Never have I seen two games matched so perfectly. It’s new, but familiar at the same time, which should help ease players into all the new creation tools.
– Multiplayer? The same issues from LBP are hanging around. If you play with three others locally and move too far from each other, the camera pans out to show all four positions. This makes movement cumbersome at best, and kills the stragglers at worst.
– Same foreground/background navigation. If you pulled your hair out trying to move Sackboy between objects in the previous outing, prepare to shave your head well in advance. The same plane system is back, and it makes moving around the environment feel loose compared to other AAA platformers.
The physics were wonky a couple years ago, and still are. They simply exacerbate the difficulty of moving about the levels, even if it eventually feels natural. Don’t misunderstand; LBP2’s physics are unmatched, but the nature of the design complicates gameplay. By regularly building levels and interacting with it in every facet, the little errors stick out like a sore thumb.
There’s no question, if you enjoyed LBP, this is an instant-buy, a cherish it, a whatever you want to call it. If, however, you never got “into it,” then give it a rent and see if LBP2 changes your mind. I hope there are more people in the former categories. Media Molecule made a believer out of me, so they can make one of you. I never imagined they could improve on LittleBigPlanet, but they have. LittleBigPlanet2 is not to be missed.