|Dev: Media Molecule|
|Pub: Sony Computer Entertainment|
|Release: January 18, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||comic mischief and mild cartoon violence|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
I'll be the first to admit that I wasn't exactly thrilled when LittleBigPlanet 2 was announced last year. I felt there wasn't enough time between releases, and despite churning out great community and downloadable content for a year, that there was more that could have been done with the original before developers Media Molecule went for the inevitable sequel. Why couldn't they have just released new level packs or new item DLC? I couldn't see how a sequel could re-write the DNA of the original LittleBigPlanet without losing some of its intrinsic magic. Boy, was I happy to be wrong about my previous impressions.
On the surface, LittleBigPlanet 2 has exactly the same components as LittleBigPlanet. There is a thirty-level platforming mode as well as a deep creation element. Like the original, I decided to go for the story mode first, as anything new in the creation mode would be used first in the game's platforming area. However, right from the beginning, the game presents you with new elements that evolve the series considerably.
The new story mode has a loose semblance of plot, revolving around a league of wannabe superheroes trying to save the LittleBig world from an evil negative force. In a game like LittleBigPlanet, the plot is inconsequential, and despite its intrinsically high cute factor, the real shining star is the new gameplay elements. If you thought the platforming in the original was well done, you haven't seen anything yet. Right off the bat, LittleBigPlanet 2 introduces two new elements: jump pads and grappling hooks. Both of these elements are used extensively in each level, and work very well. There is a bit of a learning curve with the grappling hook, as the L-stick control isn't the most precise, but after a few tries you should be able to get the hang of it.
However, the game saves its ace new platforming element for a little bit later: Creatinators. These specialty items allow players to fire projectiles in more action-oriented levels and defeat enemies who have more than just electricity bubbles on top of their heads. In addition to the straight-up platforming levels, LittleBigPlanet includes some versus levels that work much like the "challenge" levels from the original game. One of the things developer Media Molecule must have noticed was that the most popular community levels ended up being singularly focused levels that provided a pick-up-and-play interface. Sure, there were a lot of "copycat" levels that ended up regularly making it to the most popular levels page, but by and large, the levels you could jump in and play with your friends ended up being the most memorable, and it is nice seeing these types of levels incorporated into the game's larger story mode.
Of course, the game's platforming mode, despite being a fun experience by itself, is a launching pad for the create mode more than anything else. And if you're like me, the create mode last time around was fairly satisfying, despite being initially daunting and a little tough to navigate at times. However, the create mode has been revamped with plenty of new options designed to both encourage new creative opportunities as well as streamline the process. It still features a simple drag-and-drop interface that allows you to use materials and objects to create ideal environments and obstacles. The game also includes the simple machines that players with a penchant for engineering were able to use to make vehicles, weapons, and other fantastical items.