martes, 4 de enero de 2011

LittleBigPlanet 2 Review

LittleBigPlanet 2 Picture
Let's get it out of the way early -- LittleBigPlanet 2 is awesome. The levels are clever, a bunch of new additions change platforming for the better, and the community tools are smarter than ever. This game is a fantastic way to kick off a 2011 packed with PlayStation 3 exclusives. Still, the game has some nagging issues that won't be unfamiliar to folks who rocked the first game. Does it ruin the experience? Not at all. 

LittleBigPlanet 2 packs 30 story levels that tell the tale of the Negativitron, a horrible beast that has invaded Craftworld and is gobbling up all the cities on the planet. You're Sackboy, and you've got to travel to spots on the globe to run, jump, shoot, grab and fly on your way to saving the day. The story is cute like a children's storybook, but it's not all that engaging. Luckily, the levels are exciting and the gameplay's a blast.

The majority of this plays out in the familiar LittleBigPlanet style, which is essentially 2D platforming similar to a Mario game. Sackboy starts on one end of the level and runs to the other side while jumping over obstacles and on top of enemies to make it to the goal. There are three planes for Sackboy to live on (background, middle and foreground) and you move him between them with your controller. All the while, you're nabbing point bubbles and hidden prizes on the screen. If you get lonely, you can team with up to three other Sackpeople either locally or online. 

Media Molecule has outdone itself on these story levels. Each world feels unique, and the platforming challenges get more intense as you go along -- one minute I was fighting a possessed cupcake and the next I was using deadly fireflies to navigate my way through a pitch black room full of spots to die in. As great as those levels are with their colorful motifs and truly rocking tunes, the stuff that I really dug had nothing to do with platforming. 

Have a question the review didn't mention? Check the LBP 2 FAQ.
Have a question the review didn't mention? Check the LBP 2 FAQ.

Beyond the traditional swinging and jumping story levels, there is a lot going on. LBP 2 has head-to-head challenges where I was trying to nail button combinations faster than my opponent, races where I was piloting a caterpillar up a tree, and more. Single-player is spiced up, too, and flying a bee while shooting honey in a 2D side-scrolling shoot'em up and riding a nanomachine through a guy's body to fight an infection are really cool worlds that I didn't expect to play when I got my hands on LittleBigPlanet 2. The newfound focus of creating games in the game really shines through. There were moments where I was giddy over how fun it was, so the fact that you have complete access to these newfound creation abilities is impressive to say the least. 

Media Molecule has whipped up challenges that I'm going to remember for quite some time, and that inspired me to get back to creating LBP levels. When the original game came out, I spent a week trying to get the hang of the tools, got frustrated and eventually scrapped my ambitious Ghostbusters level in favor of a rudimentary platformer about my life. I was happy enough with the level, but compared to what other people were doing, it didn't really deserve to be on the servers. 

Forget platforming, let's shoot stuff -- 8-bit style.
Forget platforming, let's shoot stuff -- 8-bit style.
After running through LittleBigPlanet 2's story mode -- which only took me a day to roll through but packs plenty to go back for -- I was creatively rejuvenated. I jumped headlong into "IGN Asteroids" (a level where you pilot the IGN logo and shoot down bad guys) and eventually "Superman: Brainiac Attacks!" (a sidescrolling shoot'em up). Now, neither of these levels are going to win any awards, but I did find that the Create mode was a bit more user friendly than the first game. The tutorials are all on a giant list now so you don't have to go object by object searching for help. Switches and modifiers have big connection cones now so that you can see how things are supposed to go together, you can add your own voiceovers with a microphone, create movies with the cutscene camera, and so on. 

It's mindbogglingly deep and it's going to be crazy to see what people come up with -- you can use Sackbots to play parts in your levels and create tunes via the new music sequencer -- but don't think that Create mode is a snap for everyone. 
My creations in the original game had me up at 12:30 a.m. desperately trying to figure out why my Ecto-1 wouldn't move. This time around, that late night conundrum was replaced with me wondering why I couldn't categorize a Kryptonite bullet as a projectile so that when being projected from an emitter it would count on Superman's projectile sensor. 

Is this or any of the little snags I hit something the game should be flogged for? No, I've seen what people can do with these tools, and those creations dwarf what I could even dream of, so my failings aren't applicable to everyone. LittleBigPlanet 2 is doing a million things this time around so it's impossible forMedia Molecule to hold my hand on every issue, and that means Create mode did leave me hanging in certain spots. I recovered and made concessions to finish my levels, but there were those moments of frustration. I wish Media Molecule would let me take peek at its levels in Create mode so that I could see how certain things I admire work, but that isn't an option here.

I'm being a whiner, though. If I wanted to put in hours on top of hours, I could figure out all of the things that have tripped me up. I don't though, so I'll sit back and play the levels more creative people whip up in between trying to beat every level without dying, find every prize bubble and unlock every in-game reward pin.

That's the beauty of LittleBigPlanet 2; you can be as involved as you want to be. If you have no interest in creating a single level, there are 30 story levels and some challenges to play through, more than 3.5 million user-created levels from the original LBP that you can access with the new game, and a slew of levels people are about to create will soon be ready to try out. If you don't want to platform and only want to tinker, you can jump into Create mode and have at it without touching the story.

Whether you're the world's most brilliant creator or as dumb as I am, there's something to love in this game.

And there's a lot to love here. Making their debut in LittleBigPlanet 2 are a bunch of items that change the way Sackboy platforms. Jump pads launch the little guy into the air and make for my favorite survival challenge (i.e. keep Sackboy airborne via a moving platform of pads and out of the deadly traps). Creatinators are helmets that fire whatever object you want them to, and swinging around with grappling hooks is some of the most fun I had in this title -- and I can't wait for the inevitable Spider-Man and Batman levels using it.
LittleBigPlanet 2 Picture
All this expands what you expect from LittleBigPlanet while keeping the core the same, which means some of the original issues are here, too. I know some said jumping was "too floaty" in the first game, so it's worth pointing out that it's the same here. I've always said that's how LBP plays and been fine with it, but I know there are people who demand more responsive movement (which you could create in your level if you wanted to). On top of that, I still had a time or two where I'd miss-jump between planes and end up in the foreground when I meant to end up in the background. It's better than it's been in the past, but it's still an issue. Meanwhile, load times are still lengthy when you're trying to start a community creation. However, on a happier note, all the collectables and DLC you grabbed from the original game carry over to this sequel.

LittleBigPlanet 2 introduces Versus levels, which are levels specifically designed for head-to-head battle. These are in addition to the 30 story levels and act as little mini-games for you to hop into with friends and family. Remember, the game supports online and local play for up to four players in every level, but that can be just be more Sackboys jumping around collecting stickers. Versus levels are designed for multiplayer so you have a sense of purpose – sink the most balls in a game of pool, score the most in a game of air hockey, etc.

One of the game's biggest additions is an easy way to share your LittleBigPlanet 2 experience. Once you create your level, it's just a button press to get it online with your customized description and logo, but the real fun starts when you're looking through other people's work. Play a level and you rate it with a smiley or frowny face. If you like the author, click over to his or her profile to learn about the designer and heart some creations. When you're done there, compare pins or check out who they've hearted and go check out those levels. Media Molecule wants to have a more functional community this time around, and that's evident in its new website, Over there, you can search for levels, peruse profiles and build a queue of creations you want to play through when you get back to your PS3. In the game and online, you can sort levels by Media Molecule recommendations, popularity and more.
Want an original soundtrack? Create it.
Want an original soundtrack? Create it.
I've seen a lot of people asking how PlayStation Move works in LittleBigPlanet 2, and the short answer is "It doesn't." It isn't broken; it just isn't in the game. Sackboy's Prehistoric Moves (a Move game available right now on the PlayStation Store) is on the disc, but that's it. At the moment, LBP2 doesn't use the motion controller at all but it supports it for future additions.

There's no denying that LittleBigPlanet 2 is an amazing game. It's fun, clever, deep, engaging and great to try out with friends. The only issue is that some of the same frustrations from the last game are still present. Still, the ability to make games and not just levels outweighs any con. Even if you just want to play and never create, the fight to Ace every level, find every prize and earn every pin is going to keep you very busy -- and that's overlooking the simple fact of how much fun it is to ping-pong off a column of jump pads or use a grappling hook to swing around a level.
LittleBigPlanet 2 is a blast to play, and that's without the thousands of cool levels people are about to start posting.
out of 10Click here for ratings guide
It's still easy to get around the interface to find new levels and jump into the story mode. Creation could be easier to use as I was frustrated here and there.
The graphics have been enhanced and look sharper than ever. The colors pop, Sackboy looks great and every world has a unique style.
The soundtrack is packed with catchy beats, and the ability to add your own voice is a great addition. Creating songs via the sequencer is complicated but cool.
The platforming's as solid as ever, but the new additions like crazy shooting games and races make it even better. Creating is deep but intimidating.
9.5Lasting Appeal
Beat the story and there are pins to unlock, prizes to find, and a whole bunch of community creations to try. Creation mode will still be love or hat
e for people.
(out of 10)

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