|Dev: Media Molecule|
|Pub: Sony Computer Entertainment|
|Release: January 18, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||comic mischief and mild cartoon violence|
by Adam Brown
June 16, 2010 - When Sackboy was first introduced about two years ago, it was clear that Sony had finally managed to find the mascot they'd been looking for since things with Crash Bandicoot hadn't entirely worked out. Undeniably cute and full of personality, Sackboy alone almost made the purchase of the original LittleBigPlanet a must. Of course, while Sackboy's charm may have made gamers pay attention to the little known title (at the time), it was the fun gameplay, excellent creation tools, and absurd amount of user-generated levels that have built a very dedicated community around the title.
With Sony's purchase of Media Molecule, some may have worried that the original vision of the series would become obscured. Fortunately, after a very brief sit down with the game I'm happy to say that the sequel feels strikingly similar to the original, with some nice new toys in tow as well.
The first level I was able to have a go with was entitled Tower of Woop. This level was a timed race that began at a gate, similar to the ones found in the first LittleBigPlanet (LBP). Players were tasked with scaling their way up a well designed tower full of jump pads, hazards, and thankfully, checkpoints.
To help with the journey, Sackboy was able to pick up one of LBP 2's new items, the grappling hook. Essentially, this item works just like grabbing does in the game, with the press of the R1 button. However, instead of only being able to grab something right next to Sackboy, the grappling hook will automatically launch itself towards the nearest material that it can take hold of. This can be soft material in the environment that helps you or other Sackpersons to proceed upward, as was the case when I played it with fellow writer Amanda Kondolojy. Let me just say, there aren't many things better than hooking another player during particularly difficult jumps in order to inhibit their ability to progress.
Messing with your fellow players aside, the grappling hook seemed like an incredibly useful device. After taking hold of an object, players can use the left analog stick in order to swing as well as climb or lower themselves on the hook's rope. This was needed several times throughout this level in order to pick up extra score bubbles. Besides its obvious uses as a means of navigating the level, it also seemed like this item would make playing LBP much easier for newcomers to the series, or even the lesser skilled players among us. With a grappling hook in hand, players will no longer need to make super-precise jumps in order to grab onto the environment. Now you can simply just get somewhat near them and let your grappling hook fly.
The other level that I was ever-so-briefly able to get my hands on due to a hardware failure (thanks extreme heat and enclosed spaces) showcased another new feature called direct control. In this level there was a vehicle that wasn't operated by standing on a switch. Nor did you need to pull on any levers or grip random chunks of material in order to make it go. Instead, you were able to entirely pilot said vehicle simply by using the controller as you would in any other vehicle-based games, maneuvering it with the left analog stick. While this may not sound that amazing to anyone who has never played the first LBP, let me assure you that this is a major step forward for the series. Not only will this enable players to better control vehicles in LBP 2, but it will also make creating all manner of maneuverable machines much simpler, since you won't need to have twenty to thirty switches and levers in order to make your new creation move a few feet.
While I lament not being able to continue my adventure with Sackboy further at E3, I'm more so disappointed that there was no chance to check out any of the creation tools. I know that it'd be difficult to demo something like this, especially given the incredibly stringent time restraints that playing E3 demos always comes with, but it just would have been nice to have been able to get a peek under the hood to see how the creation aspect of the game has changed. Oh well, I suppose November is still quite a ways away. I'm sure we'll have ample opportunity to get a better look at this portion of the game as its release date approaches. Unfortunately, much like the wait between the beta for the original LBP and the game's eventual release, the wait for the sequel now seems like it will be equally as grueling.
CCC Staff Contributor