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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)

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PS3 Preview - 'LittleBigPlanet 2'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on July 5, 2010 @ 2:30 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.

Little Big Planet is one of the most unique games on the market. There are plenty of titles that offer some customization, but Little Big Planet was basically built around it. It gave you a robust tool set and let players design their own levels. The results were pretty impressive, despite a slow start. Once players figured out how to work around the system's various foibles, they created some really amazing things. Little Big Planet 2 is a clever title because it realizes that the best part of the original Little Big Planet was everything that the fan base created. The sequel is more of the same, but with more tools, more features, and more ways to create new and better things, while retaining the fun features of the original.

Perhaps the coolest new feature of the game is the Direct Control Seat, or the Controllinator. You can add this seat to any object you want, and once you do, a circuit board pops up that looks vaguely like a SixAxis controller. Each of the buttons on the controller can then be wired to a certain part of the object to control it. You can control every aspect of the created object as if it were a natural part of the game. For a car, you can bind driving forward, backward, honking the horn, jumping, or whatever else you'd like. You can even bind the various SixAxis tilts to the controls. In the original Little Big Planet, you were stuck trying to get around the lack of direct controls in order to make something fun, but in LBP 2, you can create whatever you want.


The second big addition to LBP 2 is Sackbots, which are player-created NPCs that can be placed around the level. Sackbots can have text and dialogue added, be dressed in any of your various Sackboy costumes, and even have voice acting or dialogue recorded. They can be used to give instructions to a player or function as party members for a pseudo-RPG. During our brief demo, we saw a series of Sackbots used like lemmings, and the main character has to guide them through a dangerous stage. The neat thing about Sackbots is that they can also be used with the direct control seat, allowing players to change who they're controlling in the middle of the level. Players can also alter how Sackboy controls. The jumping physics haven't been altered from the original game, but you can create a Sackbot that is designed to mimic the player's design, have Sackboy take control of that Sackbot, and then add a Mover item that changes the gravity and physics of the Sackbot, effectively giving you a new Sackboy with different jumping physics. There will also be a few new abilities for Sackboy, such as a grappling hook that can be used to reach new places, but the majority of control will be in the level creator's hands.

The reason for the jumping physics being absolutely identical is that Little Big Planet 2 is designed to carry over the content from the original Little Big Planet, including levels, Sackboy costumes and any purchased DLC. Effectively, this means that every single thing from Little Big Planet will be carried over to the sequel … including the glitches. While Little Big Planet 2 has a ton of new features, the developers were careful to keep most of the major bugs from the first game available so that developers who took advantage of those could port their games directly to Little Big Planet 2. This doesn't mean that every single bug or problem remains, but any of the major ones that were worked into level design should still be available. There will be a larger budget of available items in stages, but this shouldn't have an impact on ported levels. A cool new feature is that you have the ability to link levels together. As opposed to making one self-contained stage, you can actually make a full-fledged game out of multiple levels, complete with cut scenes and voice acting.


We got a brief glimpse of some of the cool things that can be created using the game's new features, and they're rather mind-blowing. One level made creative use of the Sackbots and direct control features to create a fully functional Star Fox-like rail shooter. This was done with basic tools that are available to every player, so it was stunning to realize that clever development could make some pretty amazing things. If the presenters had not turned off the game's outer layer to show us how the various circuits and Sackbots that were used to create the level, I never would have guessed it was a stage from Little Big Planet. After that, they showed us a neat-looking isometric Rambo game, which looked top-notch.

The real star of the show was the real-time strategy game, complete with ordering units around and unit creation. While Little Big Planet had some incredibly creative developers capable of getting around the limitations of the game, Little Big Planet 2 really seems to offer infinite gameplay possibilities. One really neat thing is that players will be able to trade pre-created circuit boards with one another, allowing you to create, for example, a "functional race car" circuit board and letting another player design tracks for that car.


Finding new levels in Little Big Planet 2 should be easier than ever thanks to the creation of LBP.me, a Web site dedicated to allowing players to search, rate and post levels without actually having to go to their PS3s. LBP.me will allow players to find levels of their choice and set them to automatically download next time they start up their PS3s. This should make browsing a lot easier. The real neat feature is that you'll be able to sync your PSN Network ID to the Web site. Once you've done so, all you have to do is to go to LBP.me/(PSN name) and you'll instantly be taken to a Web page that shows off your statistics and levels. Anyone else can visit the same address and see everything you've made. You'll also be able to make QR codes for certain levels, which can be scanned by a mobile phone or the PlayStation Eye to instantly take someone to that level.

Little Big Planet 2 is one of the most impressive things that we saw at E3, not only because of what it does, but for the game's potential. With no offense to Media Molecule, the best part of the original game was seeing the intensely creative ways that fans used the in-game tools to create levels that blew the built-in stages out of the water. With Little Big Planet 2's greatly expanded toolbox, the possibilities seem immense. Even the Media Molecule levels we saw were a staggering improvement over the original, switching genres and gameplay seamlessly. Considering that all the features from Little Big Planet are being carried over, it's difficult to see Little Big Planet 2 not surpassing its predecessor in every possible way.



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