Saturday, 5 February 2011

LittleBigPlanet 2 - PS3

It's been a little over two years since the original LittleBigPlanet arrived on PlayStation 3, giving the system a mascot in the shape of Sackboy and thrilling gamers with its charming cut-and-paste visuals.

It was a heady brew of platform action and player driven content, but niggles and constraints held the game back from reaching its true potential.

With the sequel, developer Media Molecule have strived to iron out these faults and expand upon the original's purely platform-based action. And the results are impressive, even if the floppy physics engine still means Sackboy's leaps and bounds aren't as snappy as Mario's galactic acrobatics.

But it's not all about platforming shenanigans this time around. Sure, there are plenty of levels which require Sackboy to run from left to right and negotiate perilous ledges, but there's enough variety woven in to make every level unique. Mad-cap train rides, a factory full of Sackbots and jaunts through electrical assault courses are just some of the pleasures which await.

Like the original, plenty of collectables can be mopped up, each trinket giving the player bonus items and themes for use in their own levels. Some simply can't be missed, while reaching others often requires more than one player or a bit of lateral thinking.

As you would expect, the visuals are glorious. Sackboy remains as endearing as ever with his goofy smile warming even the iciest of hearts. All clothing items from the original have been transferred over, meaning he now has an enormous wardrobe of fashionable styles.

The visual quality doesn't stop at Sackboy's loveable stitching, as each bric-a-brac area is magnificently crafted. Metal, wood and material are to the fore, but the cake-themed world really takes biscuit, with huge slabs of Battenburg cake used as backdrops, while the player hurls sticky dollops of jam at switches.

Like the original, collecting cardboard keys on certain levels unlocks optional mini-adventures for Sackboy and his chums. These little vignettes prove to be dazzling highlights, with the player taking part in events including rodent races and a Pang-style marshmallow-busting high score challenge.

The floaty jump mechanics haven't been modified, but the experience has been refined thanks to a plethora of new gadgets. The Grapple Gun allows Sackboy to swing across yawning chasms, while other widgets - such as the magnificent Cakinator - fundamentally changes the way levels can be negotiated. Bounce pads are strategically placed throughout many of the levels, too, sending Sackboy pirouetting through the air and saves him from frustrating jumps and climbs.

The game's central story mode is more refined this time around and not the cobbled together effort from the original, with the yarn weaving its way through harebrained plot points and silly situations.

Despite this wide and varied assortment of levels, tricks and traps, it's the community driven aspect which draw so many people into the LittleBigPlanet universe. And while all the player-made levels from the original game have made the leap to this sequel, it's the sheer scope and new ways to play that make LittleBigPlanet 2 such a monumental achievement.

Breaking free from its platform shackles has allowed the bustling community to create top-down racers, tower defence games, RPGs, shoot 'em ups, sports games, pinball tables, Pong and Asteroids clones and a raft of other mind-twisting creations. It's a dazzling array and with gamers across the world refining their skills, this open-ended creation tool is sure to throw up thousands of wonderful levels over the next month or so.

Sorting through these gems is also now easier than before, with Media Molecule highlighting their top picks from an easy to use menu system. Players can still 'heart' their favourites, while comments can also be typed in - a nice touch which expands on the original's word sticking frenzy.

At the time of writing, a total of 3,593,831 levels have been created, and it's a mouth-watering prospect seeing what the community can invent as the years roll by. Of course, you can dismiss all these levels if you want and create your own instead. With a new selection of flexible editing tools, crafting your own masterpiece is easier than before - but be prepared to put in the hours if you want to achieve spectacular results.

LittleBigPlanet 2 is a monumental achievement and just think, this is only the beginning. It's a game which will still be played and enjoyed over the next few years, making it an essential purchase for your PS3. It might only be January, but we definitely have a game of the year contender on our hands.

1 comment:

Oliver.M said...

I'm downloading the PS3 demo for this right now! Looks pretty decent, i might pick it up cheap.