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LittleBigPlanet 2

Platform(s): PlayStation 3
Genre: Puzzle
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: Media Molecule
Release Date: Jan. 18, 2011 (US), January 2011 (EU)

About Brian Dumlao

After spending several years doing QA for games, I took the next logical step: critiquing them. Even though the Xbox One is my preferred weapon of choice, I'll play and review just about any game from any genre on any system.


PS3 Review - 'LittleBigPlanet 2' Move Pack - Rise of the Cakeling DLC

by Brian Dumlao on Oct. 8, 2011 @ 12:30 a.m. PDT

LittleBigPlanet 2 gives players the ability to make better levels and completely new games. It also has a loads of new features, including revamped graphics, a fresh storyline, added accessories and equipment for Sackboy, and much, much more.

When LittleBigPlanet 2: Sackboy's Prehistoric Adventures was released to PSN earlier this year, gamers were curious about how the Media Molecule team incorporated Move controls. The reaction was decidedly mixed. On the one hand, the implementation seemed natural and the puzzles were done pretty well. On the other hand, Move functionality was restricted to multiplayer, so those who enjoy the series as a single-player experience don't get to see what the fuss is about. A few weeks ago, Media Molecule released a patch that gave owners of LittleBigPlanet 2 full functionality of the Move configuration for both single-player and multiplayer, and a week later, they released some DLC to help players make their own Move-enabled creations. For level creators, acquisition of the Move Pack DLC is essentially a given. For players who have little to no interest in making their own levels or games, though, the added content still make it a worthy purchase.

As with the other premium level packs for the game, there's a story attached to the Move Pack DLC, which is dubbed "Rise of the Cakeling."  You find your Sack Person transported to a beautiful island where the inhabitants have been blessed with a brane crane, an invention created by Victoria to move objects using only the power of your mind. With the success of that invention, she went on to create a more powerful version dubbed brane crane 2.0. Unfortunately for her, a rogue cakeling monster broke out of its prison, stole the new brane crane, and kidnapped Victoria and her assistant. With the help of the island's sackbot inhabitants, it's up to you to save Craftworld from being wrecked by the cakeling.

The plot's five main levels play out exactly like the main game. Rest assured that if you're a fan of platforming, you'll get heaps of that from the story levels. This time around, you're only given one tool to work with: the brane crane. Using your Move controller, you use the device as if it were a large hand. You can flick switches with it and cause platform to slide in and out of view. You can pull and push platforms as well as twist and turn them to get just the right angle. Objects can also be thrown or gently moved aside using the device. Granted, none of these actions are anything new to games, but they make for a good addition to Sackboy's abilities in the LittleBigPlanet world.

Media Molecule always does good level design, and it's made apparent here with all of the tricks and hard-to-reach objects that are placed all over the map. It's just as good as the other levels they've made on other DLC packs, so there's little to no worry of playing through a boring stage. What makes this level pack different from the others they've done in the Toy Story, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Metal Gear Solid packs is the level of polish. The story is accompanied by two full cut scenes, so instead of simply running by and reading what stationary characters have to say, you'll be treated to narrated scenes, further cementing the feeling that this is a full chapter of the game instead of a separate side story. Speaking of the narrator, Rise of the Cakeling features Stephen Fry but only for the first time you see the levels. The rest of the journey is narrated by a female voice, and while players may worry about the temporary voice change, her performance is so well done that it complements Fry's voice-over. It's good enough that players won't mind hearing her again in future DLC packs from the developer.

There is one obvious caveat to the pack as far as the main levels are concerned, and that's the fact that the Move controller is required to play. Given the pack's title of "Move Pack DLC," it only makes sense that the Move is the main feature. However, when you consider that the main levels all contain actions that can be handled by the right analog stick, albeit in a slightly more challenging manner, one begins to feel that the forced use of the Move seems unnecessary. This requirement also means that the maximum amount of players you can take on your journey is three, and while the game has always seemed better when experienced by fewer people, those who enjoy playing with the maximum allotment of four will be disappointed in the lowered limit.

For those who just want to play, the pack offers up a good value with the large amount of levels, seven new minigames, and new pins and trophies. For those who want to create, there's a bevy of things that make the pack's default price feel like a steal. By its own account, the pack features 41 decorations, 18 materials, 17 musical instruments, 12 musical tracks, 32 new sounds, 13 objects and 66 stickers. It's a sizable enough offering that's comparable to the previously released DLC level packs. Consider that it also includes six different costumes, though, and suddenly, it holds more value than before.

The big addition for level creators comes in the form of a few tools specifically made for Move use. There's a new version of the Controllinator specifically designed to take advantage of the Move's capabilities. Everything from the accelerometer to the cursor placement can be used and modified in any way. Speaking of cursor, the Pointer tool can be used to change the appearance and behavior of the cursor itself. Anything from an aiming reticle to a hand is fair game. The Puppeteering tool turns out to be great for cut scene makers since it gives them more fluid control over limbs and movement. Compare a scene made with the standard controller to one created with the Move, and the differences are readily apparent. Finally, there's the Paint tool, which lets you create anything while using your Move controller as a paintbrush. It is much easier to create something this way than with a standard controller, but there is a learning curve considering that the size of the controller is obviously much larger than most artists' tools.

Players who are completely into the creation aspect of the LittleBigPlanet series and have a Move would be missing out by not getting LittleBigPlanet 2: Move Pack - Rise of the Cakeling. The inclusion of new backdrops, sounds and stickers is always nice, but the brane crane and focus on Move-related mechanics opens up the game to so much more than what was possible on the controller alone. For those who are just interested in new levels and minigames, the pack is still a must-buy at $9.99 so one can experience Media Molecule's brilliant level design. Only those with no interest in the Move should avoid the pack. For everyone else, download this right away.

Score: 9.0/10

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