LittleBigPlanet 2 is truly a joy to behold. Everything it does makes you want to burst into song and dance around your room. It is in essence two separate games made coherent by an enchanting common theme. That is not to say it lacks problems and frustrations; but even the majority of those won’t take the smile from your face. Because when you are struggling with the occasionally clumsy platforming mechanics or the slightly awkward create mode there is one thing that keeps it all nice and joyful. His name is Sackboy; and this time he has friends!
You may at times find yourself stuck in an area wondering how you could possibly get out of it but unlike many other games it never truly grates. When it begins to teeter on becoming unbearable you suddenly find yourself free! You find that little area you missed before or that hidden platform that was slightly too well hidden. And at that point you think to yourself “How could I ever be angry with you!?”. These moments, I should say, don’t happen as often as they did in LBP2’s 2008 predecessor. In fact the majority of your time with the story mode will be spent whizzing around the beautifully realised levels that make up Craftworld without a care in the world.
LittleBigPlanet2’s story mode has had a noticeable upgrade too. It still maintains it’s place as an in depth showcase of the games create mode but it’s versatility and seamless production show just why this sequel was needed. It has cut scenes, voice acting, all manner of camera angles, a supporting cast of colourful NPC’s both friendly and hostile and a brand new line in ‘power ups’ for Sackboy to take advantage of. And all of these things are available to the player when they venture into create mode(more on that in a second). As I mentioned earlier Sackboy now has friends. That colourful supporting cast now live in the form of fully functioning Sack-people. No longer is Sackboy shepherded around by cardboard cut-outs! The characters you will meet along the way turn a very simple story into a heart-warmingly daft journey.
It is that kind of room for manoeuvre that has been handed to potential creators that really sets this sequel apart from the original. Of course, LittleBigPlanet itself was certainly not lacking when it came to potential for new creations. LBP2 simply builds on that ground-breaking formula by adding to all the right areas. By adding in the scope to create linked levels, with the same characters throughout, designers at MediaMolecule have handed us a chance to do what they do; create truly enjoyable games.
If you have played the original then you may be familiar with the friendly but undeniably vast and deep create mode. Despite the occasional ‘I don’t get it’ moment you will be allowed and positively encouraged to try your hand at creating something. From ‘push one button’ simplicity all the way to ‘learn a new control scheme’ complexity. In fact the introduction of cut scenes and the opportunity for more advanced character AI means people have begun uploading more and more mini movies. So whether you fancy yourself as a creator of games or of films you’ll have a chance to see it come to life in this glorious LittleBig Game.
In my mind the most impressive thing LittleBigPlanet 2 achieves is something that all manner of media should aspire to more often; it makes you smile! Without realising it you will smile throughout the majority of your time with this game. Sometimes you will smile at the sheer absurdity of ‘driving’ a small mammal through a level delightfully named ‘Full Metal Rabbit’. And sometimes you will smile at the sheer audacity of the levels created both in story mode and in create mode. There is a feeling of warmth and joy that accompanies this game that is present in so few forms of entertainment these days.
The sheer size and scope for creation in this game means it is impossible to ‘complete’, there will be no ‘clocking’ or ‘beating’ of this game! And that size means it is impossible to ever stop reviewing as well(as you might have guessed) but I will stop myself! And I will stop myself by simply mentioning one thing; Sackbots! I’m smiling just thinking about them.
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Check back in the future for updates as Thom gives us the best and worst of user created levels for LBP2!