Mar 23, 2011

[Games] LittleBigPlanet 2 (PS3)

LittleBigPlanet 2 (PS3)When asked, I normally say that I'm bad at platform games. I say this not necessarily because of a lack of relevant skills or poor hand-eye coordination, but really because the game genre really stresses me out. The need to be able to manipulate your character in order to navigate "life-threatening" challenges totally gets to me and at the end of a long, stressful platform stage I definitely feel my heart racing and all that jazz. And this is why I'm generally not good with platform games.

But at the same time, I've played quite a few of them and despite my protests against the genre, I also love games like the Ratchet and Clank series. One might argue that it's more because I think Clank is adorable, but the games themselves are pretty good too. Remind me to post reviews of some of them here when I finally get back in the mood to do so, hehe.

But then LittleBigPlanet came along and it turned out to be a platform game for platform lovers. It's something that made my partner amazingly happy when he first got his hands on it and it's certainly received great feedback from fellow geeks and critics alike. It was hard to imagine how they might top this since a lot of sequels have a nasty habit of totally ruining the original gaming experience, but this game effectively demonstrated how to make a truly awesome sequel.

LittleBigPlanet 2 is the direct sequel to the 2008 original. It remains to be a puzzle / platform game with even more creative options for homebrew game developers.

In terms of the story of the game itself, we've moved away from the rather episodic format of the first game to one long continuing story arc for the entire game. The creative realm of Craftworld is under attack by a vacuum-like creature known as The Negativitron. This beast threatens to drain all of CraftWorld of all of its wondrous creations and ultimately all life.

After Sackboy, which is your character, nearly gets sucked into The Negativitron, you'll find yourself being asked to join The Alliance by Larry Da Vinci, who is the leader of the group. Once you get in, the rest of the story unfolds as you visit various locations in CraftWorld in order to save other members of The Alliance and to find a way to defeat The Negativitron and prevent it from destroying all of CraftWorld.

At its core, it's still very much the same game with some improved graphics controls and more dynamic animation options. But don't let the initial look and feel deceive you - the developers chose to build on the existing experience instead of trying to create a completely different one. I felt this was one of the key aspects that made this even more successful - it was a move that didn't alienate the existing fanbase and opened the doors for new opportunities.

Sackbots can be programmed to follow Sackboy.Image via WikipediaIn terms of in-game bonuses, the sequel features a variety of new items that can be manipulated by Sackboy including the Grabinator, which lets you pick up heavy objects, the Creatinator, which shoots out any object the user programs it too including cupcakes and jelly blobs to name a few. The game also added the bonus of Sackbots, which are smaller autonomous characters that either follow you or run away based on how they were programmed. It leads to some pretty interesting game levels where you have to safe as many Sackbots as you can despite their sometimes unusual behaviors.

But beyond the game itself (which is hardly a third of the true LBP2 experience), the creation mode of the platform has been expanded significantly, presenting amazing new options. Beyond just being able to recreate most platform game styles with its original toolkit, the sequel opens the doors to even more gaming options including various classic arcade game styles, racing games, shooters and pretty much anything you can imagine. Beyond just upgrading the system, they also made sure that all DLC from the original game could be carried over to the new one and most of the user-created games were also made compatible with the new system.

And that was the real clincher right there. My partner and I were initially afraid about talks of a sequel since the existing community was pretty diverse and rather well-established at that point. Asking all those players to give up their custom levels with the advent of the new game would have been a travesty and an major insult to the hours and hours of hard work and dedication put into creating those stages. Thankfully, the folks at Media Molecule understood that too and made sure to save as many of the stages as possible. At the same time, they built a new website to make locating new levels a lot easier called LBP.me, which you can link to your PlayStation Network ID to queue games that you may want to play.

So not only do you have access to the new gadgets, your old levels and your previous DLC items, but you now have new creation tools like various logic gates and switches and circuit boards to hold more programming and thus allowing more complex stages with a lot less effort. And the new "controlinator" allows you to put Sackboy on one side so you can change the game controls and get away from just platform games.

Thus the game's new tagline is true - it's not just a platform game but it's a platform for games!

LittleBigPlanet 2 is not just one of the best sequels I've had the pleasure of playing in a while but it's one of the best games, period. It gets a full 5 crazy ways Sackbots get around a stage out of a possible 5.




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