It has been 2 years since the release of the original LittleBigPlanet on the Playstation 3, where it successfully helped in coining the phrase “Play, Create, Share” for applicable games on the Playstation Network and on the PS3 console. In that time, there has been a few other successful titles that can proudly say they are a part of a phenomenon growing in popularity. This new genre of creative games has also helped bridge the gap between casual and hardcore gaming audiences, and because it is still relatively young, it is obvious it is only the beginning.
Enter 2011, and everyone’s favorite Sony mascot, Sackboy, is back with a whole new story mode, a newly designed world, and a revamped graphics engine. Just about everything that fans of the original title loved is back, and with it comes a fresh approach to the Play, Create, Share genre. The shiny new CREATE mode has become an even deeper tool to aid all those creative minds out there in creating and designing some of the most intricate and entertaining new levels in the LBP universe. Add to that the fact that you can create just about any type of game, in nearly any genre, and you realize that this is much more than a game, it is also a game creation engine without all of the coding stuff usually reserved for programmers.
If you are not into creating things and would rather not spend the time making stuff, story mode stands on its own just fine and provides more than enough gaming to satisfy your side-scrolling, platformer desires. The single player campaign takes Sackboy around an interesting world with six different themed areas, each with 6 or 7 different levels to play through. The boss battles aren’t terribly difficult, but can provide somewhat of a challenge to the more casual crowd. I wouldn’t say they’re impossible for the casual gamer, but might take a little practice in mastering. What is good is that if you are defeated in any level, you start off at your last checkpoint and can continue almost immediately and keep going. I’d even go so far as to say LBP2’s story mode is like a flagship Mario game on the Sony consoles. You’re solving puzzles and collecting items that you can use in the CREATE mode, as well as tracking those collectibles for an overall score that will have you returning to your completed level, to make sure you found everything available.
The gameplay has the feel of an old-school side-scroller, with somewhat muddy feeling controls. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love how this game controls, it is just not as tight as someone might expect from a new retail release. This actually causes the game to feel more realistic, as if you were controlling an actual SackBoy. I’m not sure I would prefer tight, arcadey controls because I wouldn’t want to lose the responsive physics that the game presents so well. Besides that, the rest of the mechanics work well, with everything from hanging and pulling, to shooting and manipulating environments. A quick button press, for most of the actions, keeps the game moving along and never feels repetitive.
The graphics engine received a rebuild for this sequel, and while the graphics are not mind-blowing, they still make the game look great. It reminds me of those major motion pictures that are made entirely out stop motion animation. In LBP2’s case, it actually looks a lot smoother than a lot of the professional films and really sucks you into the world. A lot of the worlds are really interesting looking, and had me replaying them just to experience such a different environment than most other games have. Of course, if you’re looking for eye-popping, realistic locations like something found in the latest shooter, you won’t find it in this game, but they still offer something a little more imaginative to look at. The sounds in the game feel pretty average, almost forgettable. The bleeps and bloops, as well as the soundtrack, felt pretty bland and are probably the most disappointing part of the game, which is fine because I really wasn’t expecting any musical masterpiece. The voice acting in the story mode can get pretty corny at times, and if it was actually used for a movie (which it shouldn’t be), it would be on par with any other low-budget film.
There is absolutely no question that the game has limitless replay value. With the wide variety of tools available to create pretty much anything you want, after doing absolutely everything possible in the story mode, you could just barely touch the surface of the millions of levels available to play from the community, as well as the backwards compatible levels that were created for the first LittleBigPlanet. Not to mention the fact that if you do exhaust everything in the campaign, you can still team up with co-op partners and run through the levels for yet another unique experience. Further, the created levels also give you the opportunity to play competitively, depending on the type of game created, and with leaderboard support and the ability to keep track of everything happening in the game with other players, with level ratings and reviews, there would seemingly be no end to how much the game could be played.
Overall, I can’t say enough how much fun this game is. It has got something for everyone, and enough of that something to keep anyone busy for who knows how long. Add a co-op and multiplayer experience to the mix, and you can enjoy the game with gamers of pretty much any skill level. I had some questions as to how they could improve on the original formula, and I’m happy to say that they really worked hard to bring an exciting new game with tons of new things to check out and create, and didn’t simply move around some assets and re-release the same game.
*SCEA provided SlimGamer.com with a review copy