When developer Media Molecule first introduced LittleBigPlanet, they brought the world a clever platforming title that held a ton of promise. Thanks to user created levels and indie developer content, the title was a solid first outing that suffered from occasionally frustrating controls and a community that seemed largely focused on earning trophies rather than delivering imaginative content.
With LittleBigPlanet 2, Media Molecule has expanded that creativity and brought with them a sequel that promises to be more inventive and more user friendly. Sometimes when a developer has aspirations as grand Media Molecule, they end up missing the mark on the first try, but nail the landing on the second.
Under the banner of “Play, Create, Share,” Media Molecule has taken the negatives and the positives from the first game and have, so far, shown a game that looks to be vastly improved. Still, the question remains: is LittleBigPlanet 2 the sequel that gamers hoped for, or does it simply contain the same problems as its predecessor? Read on to find out.
This time around, LittleBigPlanet 2’s levels follow the path of a traditional narrative. It's a razor thin story, but a story nonetheless. After a maniacal robotic creature known as the Negativitron begins devouring various elements of Craftworld, it is up to the player’s Sackboy to put together a team of quirky companions to take down Negativitron and all its cohorts. At times, the game becomes bogged down with superfluous plot points that do nothing more than add some semblance of connection from level to level, but other times it provides the whimsy that gamers have come to expect.
Graphically and aesthetically, Media Molecule has outdone themselves. Making each level feel like a piecemeal quilt of items found in the trash bins of other game designers, LittleBigPlanet 2 has so much “stuff” going on that it is hard to even comprehend the amount of thought and care that went into designing each level.
From Larry Da Vinci, the wise inventor whose hair is crafted from novel clippings, to the heads of the Sackbots that feel reminiscent of television screens, each character, level, and item proves just how far a platformer like LittleBigPlanet can go in the right creative hands.
Along the way, Sackboy will discover a wide range of items that will assist him on the journey. From the always-faithful Sackbots to more weaponized items like the Creatinator and the Grabinator, SackBoy has a wider array of tools to work with this time around. Though they don’t make up for the still frustrating platforming elements (mainly imprecise background/foreground movement and "floaty" jumping), these new items do provide a very substantial boost in the variety department.
Perhaps bequeathed with rather uninventive names, the Grabinator and the Creatinator do a lot to make up for those names by adding the most solid gameplay elements of the title. Working as the “every tool,” the Creatinator can literally fire anything from its barrel, be it cupcakes or water. Not used quite as often as some of the other items, especially the grappling hook, the Creatinator is going to get its greatest chance to shine through its implementation in community created levels.
Unfortunately, like the beta before it (and, to some extent, the first game), LittleBigPlanet 2’s community is experiencing a pre-launch slump. There are a few interesting mini-games here and there that should hold gamers over for a while, but nothing on a scale that would rival any of the single player levels.
With time, though, LittleBigPlanet 2 and all of its new imaginative inventions could become the ideal place for indie developers in training to create experiences that borrow from any genre or utilize any play style. Creating levels is easier than ever before, and in no time gamers should be able to find and play some amazing games.
LittleBigPlanet 2 is not without its problems. Many of them are, unfortunately, repeats of the first game’s issues. Control is still a major headache, as oftentimes the player will jump or move in the wrong direction and be forced to watch as their handwoven creation burns to ash.
On the whole, though, LittleBigPlanet 2, with its ever-changing genres and gameplay styles, never sticks with one platforming element for too long, and that is a very good thing. Though frustration will likely occur at various points, it won't be for long and it won't ever prevent gamers from progressing forward. For a game that is trying to achieve progress on many levels, that is a great achievement.
LittleBigPlanet 2, despite not having ironed out some of the first game’s platforming flaws, is absolutely a triumph in improvement. Taking the idea of a platform for games and turning that into an experience that is constantly evolving, and leaving the player to guess what is around the next corner, is an accomplishment that is very rarely found in video games. Fans of the original LittleBigPlanet will find that the sequel is a vastly more imaginative title, and newcomers will find a platformer that rivals the likes of any Mario game.
It might take some time for the game to really hit its stride, but once creative gamers get their hands on the title and experience the imaginative blueprints Media Molecule left behind in the form of story levels, LittleBigPlanet 2 could be that rare game that continues to deliver long after its release date.
LittleBigPlanet 2 is available now for the PlayStation 3.