LittleBigPlanet 2 Review

LittleBigPlanet 2 is a strange beast on its surface, but philosophically it’s quite normal in the present world of gaming. Like a Call of Duty title, the meat of Media Molecule’s newest effort comes not in the stunning experience the developers have designed for you (the “campaign”) but in the more freeform, theoretically endless “other” portion, in this case user-made content and the level editor.

Whereas the story levels in LittleBigPlanet felt like a fully fleshed-out experience, that is not so here. Media Molecule didn’t make fewer levels this time; the change is due to the fact there is so much more in LittleBigPlanet 2. It’s absurd how much stuff there is in this game, and as a result Media Molecule’s levels come off like a fashion show, there to give you an idea of the immense possibilities provided by the level editor.


LittleBigPlanet 2 (PS3 [Reviewed], Vita)
Developer: Media Molecule
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release Date: January 18, 2011
MSRP: $59.99

Even with that being the case, the levels are quite marvelous and, yes, magical. The folks at Media Molecule are working on a wavelength few others can (I think of them, abstractly, as the Neveldine/Taylor of gaming), and what they’ve designed here is aesthetically very pleasing and relaxing and at the same time thrilling and involving.

These levels do make extensive use of two of sackboy’s new tools, the grappling hook (self-explanatory) and the grabinator (lets you pick up and throw things!), most of the other new mechanics come and go quickly. In some cases this is satisfactory — there is one level for each of the different functions of the adorable new sackbots, and that’s enough as more might have been overuse — but in others it’s disappointing. One of the new precious animals sackboy can ride, for example, is the rolling hamster, but you only get to fly around the screen with it for a total of about five minutes total in its two appearances.

But the sheer variety on display kept me from dwelling on that disappointment. One moment I’m riding on the back of a camel that shoots lasers from its eyes and the next I’m flying around on a bee and then suddenly I’m bouncing around in low-low gravity. It’s really wild and, like the MM-created levels of LittleBigPlanet, I imagine they’ll be great fun to revisit.

The most frustrating thing about these levels, though, is that there just aren’t enough of them. There may be millions of user-built levels, but 99% of those are no good, and even those that are good or excellent but they’re still basically mods. It’s a testament to MM’s vision that the levels they created leave me so urgently wanting more from them, but it’s also a problem: yes, there are plenty of people who will spend a lot of time with LBP2′s mod tools, but there are just as many who will not. Just something to think about.

All right, on to these mod tools. They’ve not just been improved in terms of how much more s–t you can do with them (I’ll come back to that); they’re also streamlined significantly from the last iteration. Basically it’s a lot easier to do the easiest things and you can d a whole lot more with it.

Examples: the second and third user-made levels I tried were the beginning segment of a top-down RPG written by an illiterate moron (I kindly suggested he learn how to write sentences and use punctuation before continuing) and an absolutely legit and compelling tower defense game. It’s sorta mindblowing that either of these things are possible, considering the main levels never hinted that they would be.

And that’s LittleBigPlanet 2. Everything that Media Molecule includes in the box (which includes Sackboy’s Prehistoric Moves, which I did not play; check out Phil H’s review) is stellar. MM has an absolutely unique vision, and I can’t help but wish they had used LittleBigPlanet 2 to realize more of that vision. Instead, they have given us an very intuitive and easy-to-use and wildly flexible dev kit. That’s not a bad thing.

Pros:

  • Media Molecule’s unique vision
  • So much new stuff
  • Mod tools have been streamlined
  • What you can make is limited only by what you try to make

Cons:

  • Is a dev kit dressed as a game really what we want?

Final Score: 90/100

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2 Comments on LittleBigPlanet 2 Review

MR Man

On January 24, 2011 at 2:46 pm

i love this game must have!!!

proto

On January 28, 2011 at 12:00 pm

I spend a lot of my spare time looking for engines and SDKs to build the world I want to play in. For the few videos I’ve seen of LBP2, not sure I’m going to pick it up, though this preview may have changed my mind. Back to digging deeper…