Review: Little Big Planet 2

Sackboy our fabric friend, is back in Little Big Planet 2, and he has come back with a bang! The first Little Big Planet was a fantastic example of an innovative game. It offered things that no other game had. It was a creative playground for gamers to build games that they like. However, LBP was not perfect. It had a lacklustre campaign, and, whilst the tools they gave you to build levels were better than most on any console, they didn’t make it easy to make anything other than a platformer. Well, Media Molecule have certainly listened to their fans, for the most part, and have brought us a much improved sequel!

For starters you can import your old game save, which carries over your Sackboy still in the clothes you left him, with the same POD (your decoratible home and menu screen) and with all costumes and level building tools you gained in the first game. All DLC bought for the first game also carries over so your money has not gone to waste. I like how Media Molecule seems to be treating their DLC, it is similar to Rock Band’s downloadable song system and that is definitely a plus!

The campaign mode is much better than the first one. Instead of what felt like a bunch of levels in the first one it is now tied together with a story. There are a new cast of zany character, each of which has their own world based around them. To be honest, the story is slightly irrelevant, but the new cutscenes are still a nice feature; if only for people who want to make some LBP movies. However, it is nice to have them there, and almost all the characters at some point had a genuinely funny moment.

There are a good amount of levels each contained within a world. Each world has its own theme, and generally introduces you to one or more new tools Sackboy can use to make his way around the levels. The variation and new toys make playing through this much less of a grind than the first one. Instead of sticking to the same formula of run, jump and pull, they seem to have tried to spice things up. A prime example of this is a level in which you are placed atop a giant bee and the game actually turns into a side scrolling shooter. Things like this just break up the platforming enough for each and every level to feel fresh. The most fun of all the new inclusions to the campaign mode is the grapple hook. Having it there now makes me wonder why this wasn’t in the first game as it fits in so well with the game.

There are also mini games that you unlock by collecting keys through each of the levels. These games range from a block busting score based game were you have to press X, square, triangle and circle when the screen prompts you to a basketball like game. These games don’t entertain for hours like the online levels can, but they are a fun inclusion to show you what can be done with the level building tools. The biggest feat of the game is that the levels are built with the same tools that you have to create levels with, so you have the ability to make levels of the same quality, if not better.

The online level building community is thriving, and I have to say, that for the most part, they are a lot of fun. I found the first Little Big Planet’s community levels to generally be mediocre platformers themed around a certain movie, game, book etc. This time around the calibre of levels is much higher, albeit most levels are still based around classic games etc. Even so the new tools give them a new life, and you can really create some games that actually play well. That said is it better to play a Mario world 1-1 remake on Lbp than the actual game? To put it simply, no, but it is still fun to marvel at what others can do. The things that people had made within a week were mind blowing. Duck hunt, Geometry wars, Pacman and even Street Fighter have, in my opinion the best representation in the online community. Some levels like the Geometry war styled levels aren’t actually titled that, but are obviously designed around it.

The online menus have also been given a massive overhaul; you can see what your friends have been playing, there is a list of what Media Molecule’s favourite levels are, and even a “Cool Levels’ section offering up suggestions of some of the levels to try out. There is now a jump in feature which throws you into a match with random players who are playing online levels. Whilst this sounds like a great way to experience some co-op if you have nobody to play with, most of the time I was kicked from their party within seconds of joining, but you can’t really blame the game, that’s more the community.

I, sadly, can’t speak too much for the level creation. I have watched some of the tutorials but it just seems all too daunting for me. That said, they do a great job of explaining everything so you will really be able to understand exactly how to use all the different objects and tools. I am more of a consumer in terms of the LBP community, but I do know that the tools must be a vast improvement because of the amazing new levels that have been made, and their drastically better controls.

Overall, this game is one of those games that in my eyes you have to own, and you will get your money’s worth if you have a few friends who will play with you. There is a constant stream of levels being made, plenty of which are of very high quality, so this game definitely has legs. And, if you are into creating levels, then this becomes an even better package. Media Molecule deserves praise for making a game that allows anyone to try to make something. With Little Big Planet  2 they can, it is truly a platform for games.

The author Tom, likes Mario better when he's made of paper.

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