Review by aaronmiller453
In a Word: Epic.
Little Big Planet 2 was recently put on shelves to the grand anticipation of fans of the first title, which put gamers into a frenzy of adorableness.
The first LBP was absolutely amazing, and the sequel was a shock to many who followed gamer news. Media Molecule originally stated there would be no sequel, as that would diminish the underlying meaning of the game, in the first place. That did make sense, too; the premise of the game is to make your own.
Of course, it had its story mode, but this was more a vessel to show you what was possible by examing each level and attempting to reverse engineer all the different contraptions the MM staff came up with, along with rewarding the player with an adorable (this word will be used multiple times) story and collectibles to be used in the players' own creations.
LBP2 is all of that, except a lot more.
That last statement is, in fact, my only gripe, as well. There's a reason Media Molecule was not originally going to make a sequel: there's just not a whole lot to add to the first title. LBP2 does feel, in several ways, like a very well made expansion pack that added loads of new collectibles and a few more gadgets remniscent of the Metal Gear Solid DLC's Paintinator.
Don't get me wrong, I love the game, and I will give it the score it definitely deserves, I just can't help but think to myself those last statements. It's my one gripe, yes, but everything about this entry is better than the last.
(Except the feeling you get when acing the giant wheel of death maze in that one level near the end of the first. Man. That was epic. Adorably epic.)
So, how does Little Big Planet 2 improve upon the design set forth by Little Big Planet 1?
The game's basic platforming aspect plays exactly the same as the first. The first got it right from the moment it was released, so why change it? 2 does add more gadgets, incuding the grabinator and creatinator. The former allowing more control than just pushing and pulling, letting the player pick up object and use them as weapons. The latter plopped an emitter (plops out whatever object the level designer chose) right onto the head of Sackboy, giving the player a more advanced Paintinator (which would only shoot blobs of paint).
The sequel also introduced a few new ways of playing by way of the Controllinator, which would place the player in control of something other than the Sackboy. These gameplay segments were mostly manifested in top-down vehicular style minigames, including racing mice and side- and verticle-scrolling shooters.
There is also a multiplayer vs challenge, pitting the players against each other in a game of pool. That was fancy.
Also introduced in this entry are Sackbots, programable, robotic characters that can be utilized in many ways. They can be used as friend or foe alike, and can also be set to change from one game plane to another, allowing for true chases. In the first game, objects were restricted to the plane they were originally placed in.
The sackbots can come in handy quite a bit when making cutscenes, allowing the player to customize the character or even have the bot be a clone of the player.
That aspect actually offered one of the neatest puzzle minigames, which (by way of the controllinator) put the player in control of 2 identicle sackbots that were controlled at the same time, while placed in 2 separate rooms, each with their own obstacles. The puzzle was to get each sacckbot into the green area at the same time.
That's the "receiving" side of things. On the "giving" side is the create mode, allowing the player all the tools necessary to create a level he or she may dream up. This time around, everything is fundamentally more streamlined. Instead of having to download master creators' own methods for logic (contraptions to use to make more sophisticated contraptions of your own), MM made those logic gates (almost) easy to understand components to add yourself, also allowing the user to place programmable circuit boards to create a specific script for the object.
What all of this means is that, while in LBP1, the amount of amazing user created content numbered in the single digit percentages, this will allow for far more spectacular and more numerous amazing levels.
One obvious sour point of the game will be the inevitable flooding of poorly created levels or levels designed solely for trophies. This is obviously not a flaw of the game itself, but rather the world at large. However, there are sure to be some amazing levels for you to download and play. The point is that if a player really wants to make something, he or she will be able to. The limit is the imagination one possesses.
The story is just as, if not more so, adorable as the first. The intro shows a young boy playing with his toys, while his mother vaccuums the room around him. This vaccuum becomes the evil Negativitron attempting to destroy Craftworld. It's up to Sackboy to stop it.
The greatest improvement over the first, in this regard, are actual cut scenes. Create mode gives you 3 different types of cameras: Screenshot, Game, and Movie. Screenshots take a still photo of the action going on. Game cameras change the view of the action, and Movie Cameras allow for scripted movies.
They also added in the ability to record your own voice acting, which will result in either amazingly good or laughably bad acting, so this is just amazing.
The actual story, though, is a great tale people of all ages will love. A ragtag team assembles itself for the greater good, and, at the end, it all comes together.
Quite possibly, the music may be the most epic part of the whole deal. The licensed music is simply amazing and used amazingly.
My favorite moment for the music was in a level in which I was riding atop a bumble bee shooting at... enemy things... in a retro-style, side-scrolling shooter. This great, fast-paced, techno piece adding so much to the atmostphere that, originally, it really just blended in. All of a sudden, the screen begins to rotate, turning the level into a verticle shooter, and the music drops several instrument layers to reveal this robotic, synth vocal piece that really made the level what it was.
The music is, by far, one of the most standout aspects of the game. Sadly, there is nothing "adorable" about the music. It's just all kinds of epic.
Along side the in-house music, the create mode also offers up a Music Sequencer, allowing the creator to make his or her own pieces of music to be played in the creators' levels.
With all that said, I regret I did not have a lot of time to play online, and, as I am a gamer on a very restricted budget, I was only able to rent the game. I do, however, plan to buy LBP2 once I have the cash, and suggest you do the same.
I give this game 9 "ADORABLES" out of 10.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: LittleBigPlanet 2 (US, 01/18/11)
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