When I saw my first glimpse of LittleBigPlanet back in 2007, I knew that Media Molecule had something special on their hands. The concept was arguably the most original thing I had seen in many, many years. Even though I received a ton of ridicule from many of my gaming-friends, I held firmly onto my opinion; LBP was going to be something special and would change the way that many people look at games. Sure enough, once the game finally saw a release, all of my reservations about the game proved to be true. LittleBigPlanet was a certified hit and it did in fact change the way a lot of people look at games. The first game gave its players a chance to do more than just “play” a game; once people get comfortable with the interface and tools involved, the possibilities would be endless. LBP players ended up doing more with the original game than anyone expected them too... and now that Media Molecule and Sony have released a new package with even more powerful tools (both in description of ability and quantity), I have a feeling that things are going to see it taken to levels beyond all of our imaginations.
I will be honest with you, I don’t even know where to start when it comes to reviewing a game like LittleBigPlanet 2. On one hand, you can approach it like a straight forward game but I fear that judging it solely as a gaming experience cuts both the game and potential players short of the title’s true potential. On the other hand, I could look at it solely as a set of tools but the truth is that not everyone will get into and use the create features. I think that you have to look at LBP2 from all angles and judge at on its package as a whole; you have to take everything into account and consider it a package deal. Under normal circumstances, I don’t feel that you should judge something based solely on its potential, but in the case of LittleBigPlanet 2, you really don’t have any other choice.
There is a “story” mode, or campaign, of sorts in LittleBigPlanet 2, but you should know going in that this mode isn’t the focus of the game and you shouldn’t judge it solely on its contents. Just because it isn’t the primary mode of the game doesn’t mean that its not important or enjoyable. In LBP2, Sackboy is being recruited by an organized group of heroes that call themselves the Alliance. This group, led by Larry Da Vinci, is a rebel group organized for the purpose of taking down the evil Negativitron which is wreaking havoc across the world. Da Vinci and the other high-ranking members of the faction will run you (Sackboy) through a series of levels meant to put you to the test and see if you are up to the challenge. Before it is all said and done, you and the Alliance will face off against the Negativitron and hopefully take it down.
The levels of the campaign serve a purpose above and beyond entertaining you with a tale. All of the levels are meant to introduce you to the concept of the game world, it’s objects, give you a chance to stock your tool kit with items and stickers, as well as give you ideas for crafting your own creations. Each level is set up with a theme of sorts. One may focus on appropriate use of the grappling hook tool while another may focus solely on different environmental dangers or perhaps the physics of the game’s bounce pads. It is all meant to be a learning experience. The gameplay changes quite a bit through the course of the adventure as things don’t focus solely on platforming as the series has done in the past. Since the game allows you to create more than just platforming levels and games now, Media Molecule makes sure that you get a taste of more than just platforming in the adventure. You will still spend quite a bit of time running and jumping through the environment but players will also experience some racing / driving style courses and even a couple of well-designed shooter style stages involving a bumble bee. As I said before, this is all intended to provide you with inspiration for your own designs in the game’s create mode. Everything that you experience in the game has been created using the game’s tools; keep that in mind if you play through the game.
Just like the original game, the stages are littered with a variety of prize bubbles which, when collected, add additional resources to your toolkit to use in the creation mode(s). Additional prizes are awarded for such things as completing the stage(s) without losing lives, collecting all of the prize bubbles within a stage, and occasionally for setting a high score on the leaderboards. Collecting all of the prize bubbles isn’t always as straightforward as it sounds; many areas of the various stages require more than one player just to even reach them (physically). The game encourages you to bring friends along with you for the ride or perhaps join in with other players all across the world whenever you play. Multiplayer is seamlessly integrated into the game and you can join in with other gamers at the beginning of every stage and you can have anyone join you at any time. Media Molecule wants gamers to play together and they make it easy for us to do so. Joining or allowing someone to join your game is purely optional; you don’t have to do it but it is great fun and extremely easy to do.
A new addition to LBP2 is the concept of collector’s pins. The game gives you an opportunity to collect hundreds of collector’s pins that you can use to decorate your profile and show off you accomplishments in the game. Pins are awarded for a wide variety of reasons; it seems as though you are always unlocking another pin. Pins are awarded for playing at certain times of the day, consecutive days of the week, completing levels, and spending different amounts of time in the game’s various modes. The pins are a nice feature that seem to give another reason to always go back for just a little more.
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