We recently added a PS3 to the Crowdedbrain test ranks and the first game we picked up for the platform was LittleBigPlanet 2 (LBP 2). While the game is technically over a year old now, for those like us who are new to the console we have to say it's a title that you will certainly want to pick up and play!
In its simplest form LBP 2 is a platform game at heart but with the major difference being the creative level design, quality animation, production values and of course the loveable character that is Sackboy (a creature made from knitted wool).
Stephen Fry also narrates the game at the start (as he did in the original) and he guides you through how to move Sackboy and learn the basic controls (which also includes sixaxis control for allowing you to move the Sackboy's head and arms around in real-time - you mainly do this at the end of each level when you want to show off to your multi-player mates that you have a good score!). Stephen Fry also explains how you can customise your Sackboy and decorate your surroundings - which also includes your pod (the main place where you select levels).
Story & Level Design
The main storyline is a little wacky but essentially an inter-dimensional vacuum cleaner called the Negativitron appears over the skies of LittleBigPlanet and begins to suck up its inhabitants, including Sackboy. Larry Da Vinci, the leader of a semi-secret semi-organised group known as "The Alliance", comes to Sackboy's rescue saving him from the Negativitron. The organisation is dedicated to battling with the Negativitron and defeating it before it destroys Craftworld.
Each level it has to be said is beautifully crafted with various themes running throughout. The worlds are cute so it sounds like it would be too childlike to play for adults, but the clever level design and gameplay certainly has a feel that any age group can enjoy.
In total you have six themed worlds (with roughly 7 levels in each theme and 3 Point/Vs/Survival levels, so 50 levels in total) that you can enjoy in the main campaign (which after you have learned the basic levels will allow up to three other players to join you).
After this you can create your own or play on thousands upon thousands of levels created by the online community (it even supports the original LBP game).
Each level also starts off with a well rendered cut scene describing the back-ground story and then it switches to the in-game third party character to describe your main task. Strangely while the 3rd party character speaks in the cut-scene he doesn't in-game and simply mumbles with speech bubbles - above the head - translating the garble audio into text. It would have been better to have continued with the speech, but children will probably get a kick out of the cuteness of it.
Each platform level is rendered in a 2D/3D kind of way, so you can jump in and out of the foreground and background. The objects cluttering the playing world can also be manipulated to allow you to jump to different areas within the level, but as you progress you can get hold of additional tools to help you traverse the game.
It’s here that the fun begins as you can get hold of a gun that fires cakes (used to take out enemies and gain access to other parts of the level) and a grappling hook which allows you to attach onto things (including other players!). The physics here are brilliant and it’s great fun trying to do Tarzan like maneuvers to reach higher parts of the level.
Most of the levels are quite similar but as with most platform games there are plenty of collectibles to pick (this helps with the replay value as your aim is to try and get 100% on each level), plus the grapple gun does help makes things a little more interesting. On some levels you even get to fly bees or take part in various sub-games - that you can also play with friends (one such example is motor racing using mice!).
There are other cool bits that help break up the game-play, such as when you have to lead friendly Sackbots to safety. It's fun watching them whisked down air tubes, or thrown around trying their hardest to follow you and not become mince meet (the levels do have various obstacles that block your way, fire does not combine well with wool!).
We have to admit the game came alive more when three other players joined in our game, it’s here that things get a little insane! For example when you are all jumping about on jump pads it’s hard to see where your character is. Also on some occasions you need to catch and through bombs back at the mid-level bosses to progress, but as you can pick up your fellow Sackboys you end up throwing them instead!
The only negative is that the camera only focus's on the lead players, so if your mates are too slow you either have to wait for them to catch up or they die. But even so it’s great fun trying to complete the game with others and with several sub-games dotted throughout the levels, such as classic "pong" that your Sackboys can play, it’s certainly a fun way to pass the time away and increase the games duration.
We have to admit we never gave the level design a go ourselves, but from the custom levels we played the standard of creativity that is on offer is excellent. You can literally create mini arcade games, basic horizontal shooters or do whatever your imagination can come up with!
The video below shows what is possible...
If you are looking for a game to play with the kids this is one of the best examples we have seen, its colourful, fun and not that taxing so you won’t have to do too much thinking while playing. In terms of completion time it’s not very long and could easily be finished within a few days (with long gaming sessions that is), but with the online community levels and the ability to create levels yourself, this certainly helps boost its life-span.