It has been a long time since Media Molecule decided to whip up a level pack for LittleBigPlanet 2. It's hard to blame them, though, since players can create their own levels and games, rather negating the need for developer-created content. Nevertheless, in an effort to ride the wave of nostalgia and hype surrounding The Muppets and their new movie, the team decided to release a themed level pack alongside a bevy of costumes related to the franchise. The Muppets Premium Level Kit falls somewhere between Media Molecule's last two level packs, as it adds something new to the game but retains a user-created feel.
Reminiscent of Media Molecule's other themed level packs, The Muppets has a story but instead of following the tale from any of the movies, let alone the most recent one, this DLC goes for something that could have appeared on the TV series. You play as Sack Thing, the special guest host of the latest "Muppet Show" episode. Things seem to be going according to script until near the end of the first skit, when things start to go wrong. It is obvious that someone is trying to sabotage the show, and it's up to you to get that person to stop so that the show can end on a good note.
There are five story-based levels in the game, and except for the last two, they perfectly follow the variety show format. The first level has you as part of the crew in a sci-fi knock-off skit as you travel down to the engine room to see what went wrong. The next level has you doing cannon acrobatics with Gonzo, avoiding fire pits along the way, and the third level has you going around the Muppet labs as you shoot Beaker clones. Though none of these make much sense on their own, in the variety show format, they work perfectly and are always bookended with incidental scenes like Kermit introducing the skit, the audience laughing, or the critics heckling about the shoddy performances. Though the last two stages take on a more traditional video game feel with you hunting down the saboteur, everything else does a great job of making you feel like you're participating in an episode of the series.
The latest tool being introduced in this DLC is the Attract-O-Gel, which acts like a magnetic surface for Sackboy to traverse. This allows you to walk on surfaces from which you'd normally fall and create situations where gravity can be temporarily altered without changing parts of the level. The gel can also be tweaked several different ways, from color to switch activation to intensity, giving you complete freedom in how you want to use it.
Even though the game features a great deal of Attract-O-Gel in each level, it still hasn't forgotten the rest of the tools at your disposal and puts some to good use. As mentioned earlier, the third level has you playing with a clone gun to shoot Beaker clones. Bounce pads litter the Gonzo cannonball level, and the fourth level features liberal use of the grappling hook. As a showcase for almost all of the tools the game offers, the pack does well.
The sound fits in well with the established vibe of the game while still managing to throw in signature stuff. The music for each segment captures the mood perfectly, whether it's the grandiose sci-fi theme of the first level or the circus atmosphere of the second. The whole pack is capped with the classic "Muppet Show" theme song, and the jokes are always met with a nice laugh track. More impressive is that each character's mumbles match the pitch of character's voice, so even though characters like Kermit and Miss Piggy never say a word, they sound just like their counterparts would.
The only knock against the pack applies to all of Media Molecule's level packs to date: It's short. The five levels don't last very long, and you can complete everything in less than an hour or so. The included minigames are also nice but not as entertaining as some of the user-created minigames that are already on the network. The pack comes with the added incentive of Trophies, but unless you plan on getting all of them, there isn't much to do afterward.
Like all of the other level packs Media Molecule has released so far, The Muppets pack is easy to recommend. The story that plays out is fine, and the bevy of new stickers and music is always welcome, but the possibilities brought forth by the Attract-O-Gel seem endless. That alone is worth the price of $5.99 (£5.99 / AUS $ 9.95 / NZD $11.50), but throwing in some fun themed levels doesn't hurt, either. If you're still toying around with LittleBigPlanet 2, The Muppets Premium Level Kit DLC makes a great addition.
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