|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
There are two types of people who enjoy LittleBigPlanet: those who love the game's deep creation elements, and those who love playing the game's platform-style levels. Of course, these categories are not mutually exclusive, and most people fall somewhere in between the two, but with at least a preference for one. Personally, I am a huge fan of the platforming, and while I like playing with the creation tools, I was never a prolific level creator myself. We recently got some hands-on time with the LittleBigPlanet 2 beta, and we can safely say that no matter what part of LittleBigPlanet you enjoy most, LittleBigPlanet 2 will satisfy.
Let's talk about the platforming levels first. The beta features three Media Molecule developed levels, each with different themes. The first level will probably be the most jarring, as it implements some major changes for the series. The story-based level features a bearded character named Larry DaVinci, who introduces players to both the new grappling hook element as well as jump pads. The grappling hook is a simple tool that can be used to hook onto fabric-based elements, but its a bit tricky to maneuver as the gravity seems to waver around you when the hook is in use. However, the jump pads are a bit more straightforward. They act like the propulsion boxes from the first game (but with a little more oomph!).
The second platforming area took place on a space station, and while it didn't introduce any new hard and fast level designs, it did give us a peek into some of the new programming that would be possible in the creation levels. As we sprinted through the space station's many corridors, we were able to spot several game stations where we could play monochrome versions of Pong and BlockBreaker. Success in these games yielded a gaseous key, though I wasn't immediately able to figure out exactly what that key was for.
The final platforming area, which is the closest thing to a "game-changer" I've seen in the beta, features programmable sack-bots, which are drones that can be manipulated in the level to be used for your own devices. Although the sackbots in the beta level weren't terribly useful, the implications for the create mode (as well as in other story mode levels) is vast. Although we didn't attempt to program a sackbot, those with a knack for simple robotics will definitely get a kick out of this new creative element, and I'm sure the results will be pretty fantastic.
And speaking of creation elements, the create element of the game has been significantly overhauled to include some new elements that should make creating your own games (or paying homage to other games) easier than ever. Chief among the new elements is the Creatinator and music sequencer. The Creatinator is basically a weapons template that allows you to use anything you want as a projectile weapon. This gets rid of some of the creation issues that plagued the first (making a projectile weapon involved a fair bit of engineering) and should definitely liven up the community-created levels. The music sequencer should also provide us with some interesting content, as it allows you to compose and insert your own music. Just browsing the popular community levels warranted several musically-themed levels, including a straight-up music video set to Gary Jules' "Mad World."
And speaking of user-created levels, we were able to test out the search function, and were able to find plenty of user-created levels either by tag or by subject. The beta's servers are lightning fast, and we were able to load up levels in a matter of seconds. Even joining others in progress (which used to take quite a long time) was lightning-fast here. Although the beta test group is relatively small at this point (which could have an effect on performance), I'm hoping that this particular improvement will remain after the game's full release.
LittleBigPlanet 2 is definitely coming along nicely, and the new features we test-drove look like they will certainly add some new dimensions to both the platforming and creation elements. It's nice that the folks at MediaMolecule are keeping all of their fanbase in mind as the game inches toward release, and no matter which part of the first game you enjoyed the most, you won't likely be disappointed with LittleBigPlanet 2. Although we did run into the odd graphical glitch or physics issue, I'm hopeful that the final product will be as clean and polished (and not to mention, fun!) as the original.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC News Director