Create, Play, Share. These words embody the LittleBigPlanet series. You are given an entire world to play in and to do anything you want with. Almost anything is possible in this game, even more so than with its predecessor.
For those of you unfamiliar with LBP, you star as a “Sackboy,” which is essentially a human shaped figure made of brown cloth and held together with a zipper. I don’t find many things cute, but this guy is one of them. To avoid being bland and allow the players to alter and personalize more of the game, Sackboy can be equipped with a variety of clothing that is found within levels or purchased online. LBP1 fans bring over all of their DLC, so people like me who spent way too much money on DLC don’t feel cheated.
The gameplay is the age old platforming formula, but with a twist. Sackboy can move between three “layers” to allow the implementation of new challenges and ideas, such as mechanical cranes in the back layer that you control via the foremost layer. Layers also add aesthetic elements, like running back and forth between trees to really give a feel to a jungle level.. The game is pretty good about getting you where you intended to go, changing layers mid-jump to land on the optimum platforms and moving you around obstacles mid-run to make layer changing an afterthought. Sackboy can also grab, pulling materials to solve puzzles or bring a key through a level. This also allows him to interact with switches, ropes, and basically anything else you could imagine grabbing in real life.
A video of the first single player boss. You can really see the use of the layers by Media molecule and a look into Larry Da Vince’s personality.
The story of LBP1 was very simplistic, a run of the mill save the world adventure, but it had it’s quirks. A creature was stealing all of the creative people in the world so he could have a world dominated by his machinery. The story is very akin to LBP2. This time you are warding off a giant beast who is sucking up everything in the world to eliminate creativity. However, the story takes a more serious tone and draws you in with voice acting that really allows the NPC’s to make a mark on you. They include a hot? nurse, a sadist, an eccentric philosopher, an inventor named Larry Da Vince(haha…) and an egotistical wealthy superhero. As you embark across their respective worlds you partake in a grand, enthralling, and unfortunately short story.
However, you can now move on to the star of the show; the level creator. Whether you build masterpieces yourself or move online to play the best, the creator kept people occupied forever in LBP1 and will surely keep countless around in LBP2. You could do anything with this thing before, like create your own platformer, side-scrolling shooter, movie, etc., and now you can do more anything! The layers system really comes into focus again. It allows you to create complicated machinery and events you couldn’t with a simple 1 layer 2D plane. For example, during my first experience with the LBP creator I created a massive metal wheel on the back layer covered with rockets. This device would have not been able to hold a sackboy without him flying out if I had to create a door for him to enter on a single 2D layer. Instead, you walk to the middle of the wheel in the middle layer and jump in for the ride of your life.
LBP2 provides a whole suite of new tools to make creating easier. The camera is more developed and can be placed everywhere and anywhere, even in preset movement to make your very own cut scene. Sackbots allow you to create avatars and NPC’s with any of the clothes you have collected and the special NPC skins from the campaign. They can be programed or set to mimic an action you create for them. New Sackboy tools such as the creatinator(emit any preset object from your cranium), grabbinator(allows you to pick up and throw objects you could normally only drag), and grappling hook allow you to create special, unique challenges for the waiting public.
The controlinator allows you to animate machinery instead of having the user control Sackboy. Button’s are mapped to anything you want on the vehicle and you can add weapons and the like. For advanced creators LBP2 implements circuitry and basic programming. Creating complicated events in LBP1 required an overcomplicated process of building your own circuits out of simple switches. It was no small feat for the original community to figure out how to build their own computers within a game. There are too many tools to list, but they all are very useful for something, you just need to master them.
LBP2 is great, but has one major flaw I didn’t realize until I watched Yahtzee’s review of Minecraft from The Escapist. In his review, he notes that all the work he had to put into building his creation made it that much better to admire. In LBP, you are given unlimited resources, whether it be rockets, metal, or gold. The original concept for LBP had you collecting tiny pieces of sponge that acted as a sort of currency for you to buy level building materials with. I’m sure this idea got shot down in favor of ease of access, but looking back, I feel like it would have made my simplistic creations that much better. Especially since I had to put time and effort into them. I’m not saying people don’t create remarkable things with the tools in LBP, it’s just players like me who aren’t creative would feel prouder of their simpler achievements with a reward based creator. Of course, the phenomenal levels built by the community would be that much better.
Anyway, I digress. I definitely recommend that anyone with a PS3 picks this one up, especially if you are trying to convince someone to get into games or need to entertain children, as it’s unique, easy, and fun. You will have endless hours of entertainment, whether it be by playing, creating, or sharing.
Thanks for reading