‘LittleBigPlanet 2‘ is a big step forward

By Zach Walton

When the first “LittleBigPlanet” came out, nobody really wanted a sequel, as shown by the two million levels already made. Media Molecule has proven them wrong with “LittleBigPlanet 2” being a sequel that players will want and need.

“LittleBigPlanet 2” is the sequel to the 2008 game of the year, “LittleBigPlanet.” The game’s main selling point is its ability to let players create their own levels using a wide variety of tools.

Like the first “LBP,” players will need to navigate their custom created Sackboy or Sackgirl through a series of story levels before they are able to access the rest of the game. Players will want to play through these not only because they provide materials to build levels with, but they are genuinely fun.

The major problem the first game had was that the story levels felt slapped together just to introduce level building concepts, and they were not very fun.

One can tell that the designers on “LBP2“ really cared about making the levels fun while introducing new gameplay mechanics. When a series of levels begin to feel dull, they introduce a new mechanic that reinvigorates the gameplay.

The new gameplay mechanics, which players can implement in their own levels, include my personal favorite, the bounce pad, as well as a grappling hook, programmable sackbots and ridable animals that have distinct powers. Each new gameplay mechanic is introduced by itself to ease players into using them, but later levels begin to combine them for truly challenging gameplay.

On a disappointing note, not all of the new gameplay mechanics work that well. It could just be my experience with the game, but the grappling hook’s reliance on the game’s “realistic” physics led to more frustration than fun. Add in more than one player into the levels and players are grappling each other instead of the swing points, which leads to needless deaths and having to start the level over.

It’s a minor complaint, and one that does not ruin how much fun the game is. It was just an unexpectedly hard learning curve compared to the relative simplicity of all the other items.

I did not expect much of a story going into “LBP2,” considering the first game had next to no story. I could understand because a story is not the main point of the game. I was definitely surprised to find not only an endearing story with a heartfelt message, but some of my favorite characters in recent memory. In the spirit of not spoiling anything, players will have to see for themselves where the story goes.

“LBP2“ called itself a platform for making games, and the first few story worlds would have you believe that is not the case. The game still stuck to the standard side-scrolling platformer standard that the first game did.

After the halfway point, however, the game changes drastically to show off all the other types of game styles it can handle. There is a basketball mini-game, a side-scrolling shoot-em-up, a top-down racer and other genres present.

Where “LBP2“ really shines, just like in the first game, is the user-created content. With more tools at their disposal, players have been busy creating new content that pushes the boundaries of the game. Players have created a fighter, a first-person shooter, a turn-based RPG, a recreation of the first “Legend of Zelda” game down to the original sprites and menu and miniature films that show some real production values.

For those who want to make their own levels, the creation tools are more streamlined and easier to use than in the first game. Personally, I am still terrible at making levels in both games. The best part about “LBP2” is that no matter your skill level, there is something for everybody. The next game designer of the year can create their masterpiece, while a creation-challenged goof like me can enjoy their level.

“LBP2“ succeeds just like the first game did by having something for everyone. While the first game was restricted by only platforming style games, the sequel is only restricted by your imagination. So get out there and make some awesome levels.