When LittleBigPlanet released in 2008, nobody was prepared for the impact it would have on the PlayStation 3, or the effect it would have on the future of user-generated content. Not only did the title score and sell extremely well, but its developer, Media Molecule, promptly began creating a sequel, and was even purchased by Sony for its creative ability. LittleBigPlanet 2 is said to be a sequel of monumental effort, with handfuls of extra tools to expand the unending limits of the creativity-based community features that the series is celebrated for. With that said, is LittleBigPlanet 2 as big as it’s hoped to be?
LittleBigPlanet 2 can be described as a super-sized version of the original LittleBigPlanet. Actually, colossal would be more accurate. Several elements of the first game, from the user-interface to the structure, are all intact, but this newer, younger brother is much beefier. As with the first, co-operative play is strongly supported, and perhaps even recommended. You can choose to play by yourself, with others on the same PlayStation 3, online with friends, or even with strangers. This seemingly rare implementation this generation is something that gives the LittleBigPlanet series one of the greatest reputations as a co-op game. As a product of a highly-effective level editor, the original formula mixed with over two years of icing is a package that delivers on multiple fronts.
The Story Mode follows a very light-hearted narrative following the existence of a cute little specimen named Sackboy, and while the experience isn’t particularly long, its array of content gives it all the legs it needs. Each of the game’s levels are brimming with unlockables, and you’re rewarded not only for completing each of the dozens of levels without error, but for finding each of the discoverable items, ranging from stickers, to costume pieces, each allowing players to accessorize the Sackboy (or Sackgirl). With a progressive level of difficulty, it’s easy to spend dozens of hours finishing the game’s dynamic story mode level offerings while attempting to collect goodies. At the end of each chapter, a major boss is encountered, and each of these confrontations are memorable. Experiencing glorious battles is one thing, but knowing that you can recreate that magic within the game’s editing tools is at times hard to believe, but always true.
What really enhances the Story Mode over the first LittleBigPlanet is its ability to display the power of the new creator tools without hesitation. Cutscenes are far more dramatic with a selection of camera angles and other special effects. Several awesome new gadgets are put to work, including the likes of The Grabinator, which in and of itself adds an incredible amount of possibilities to the game’s seemingly infinite amount of options. Vehicles now embrace compelling new options that range from abilities, to an assortment of control methods. As a result, the Story Mode is fresh and exciting all the way through, and meeting the clever implementations of several different game mechanics always spells surprise.
The online experience is where LittleBigPlanet 2 really shines. Each player is given a detailed profile along with a customizable planet that one can populate with ingenious creations. Playing user-created levels can be an addicting experience, and it’s easy to get caught up in playing levels back-to-back, rating them as you go, or even competing for high scores on the growing list of millions of LittleBigPlanet levels. Finding authors who generate content that suits your tastes leads to finding multiple other enjoyable levels, and mingling with the community can be heavily rewarding. The game makes it easy to access the diversity of content, and it never feels like where you want to go is more than a few button-presses away.
The level-creation tools present in LittleBigPlanet 2 are the most powerful ever seen in a mainstream game. The series is no longer tied to the limits of a three-plane 2D side-scroller. Instead, there are options to define the field of play, and customize both the visual and physical experiences to a great degree. First-person shooters, puzzles, RPGs, and more are now fully realized in one of the most accessible level editors on the market. The mind is a greater barrier than the game’s toolset, so battling with a pen or controller to present new ideas to a huge market of people ready to get their hands on new levels can captivate even those who haven’t embraced design before. Although many might not feel compelled to attempt level-creation, its power manifests itself as a multitude of fun, multi-faceted levels that all differentiate themselves from one another.
The world of LittleBigPlanet 2 is one that is as appealing as it is magical. Far from ordinary, it doesn’t hesitate to show you its cute side, and the presentation is something very special. It has a style to it that makes it one of a kind, and easily recognizable. Even to the eye of the mature audience, it’s hard to deny its charm. There’s something about little Sackboy and his world of little big planets that captures imagination and doesn’t let go. Interface navigation is simple and presented clearly. Other developers should take note as Media Molecule has done a wonderful job in all aspects of presenting information and making the game look artistic without compromise.
Audio throughout LittleBigPlanet 2‘s never-ending journey is depictive and consistent. Each of the game’s dozens of tunes embody the lovable nature of the game. Sound effects are basic but do the job. Voice acting in the Story Mode is appropriate and adds to Stephen Fry’s excellent narration greatly. Also, creating custom music or audio pieces within user-created levels takes some effort, but allows for much more personalized experiences.
LittleBigPlanet 2 may very well last forever. The Story Mode by itself can last dozens of hours when factoring in the thousands of unlockables. Playing user-created levels is one of the most satisfying community-driven experiences in recent times. Last but not least, the level editor substantiates any argument that LittleBigPlanet 2 is the king of user-created content.
LittleBigPlanet 2 is a special game that entertains effectively, and does nothing less. Playing together with friends, and enjoying the unrestrained power of man’s creativity is a sight to behold. LittleBigPlanet 2 has good flavor, and charms in the most memorable of ways. It’s fun, will outlast this generation with content, and houses the most accessible editing tools on the market. If there’s one game that can make a bad day good, Sackboy and his latest venture with LittleBigPlanet 2 is it.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
+ Charming visuals and clear presentation.
+ Powerful, yet accessible editing tools.