LittleBigPlanet 2 review: While all old LittleBigPlanet objects and the majority of user-created levels will function in the sequel, some fresh tools unlock all sorts of new potential
Remember the breathless thrill of discovering a new playground when you were a little kid? It didn't matter how many slides you'd zipped down or merry-go-rounds you'd dizzied yourself on, because the fresh arrangement of old favourites made every moment new again. LittleBigPlanet 2 could've exploited that phenomenon, and simply delivered another dose of the family-friendly charm and quirky environmental designs that defined the original and walked away a winner. Luckily for all of us, though, Sackboy's got loftier goals in mind. If you've even a faint spark of youthful exuberance still lurking in your heart, LittleBigPlanet 2 will fan it back into a roaring blaze.
- Infectious and inimitable charm, beautiful and diverse level designs, loads of new power-ups, incredible collection of creation tools, rich community features, tonnes of collectibles.
- Not much of a challenge, grappling hook feels unwieldy for a while, some dull side levels, can't rewind or fast forward tutorials (only pause or restart from scratch), no keyboard or mouse support for creation mode at launch
Sackboy's triumphant return packs the same engrossing brand of innovation and ingenuity that made its pioneering predecessor our Game of the Year for 2008. An expanded scale and a whole new treasure chest of tools and toys to conceptualise and create with help this stellar sequel more than live up to its hype.
The core pursuits of the main adventure are still dirt simple, of course. Collect prize and score bubbles by running and jumping across layered two-dimensional fields filled with obstacles, switches, bounce pads, and grumpy meanies. LittleBigPlanet's sequel is still a side-scrolling platformer at heart, and your stitched superhero sprints and tumbles through a handful of elaborate levels on each of six striking themed planets on his quest to confront and defeat the nefarious Negativitron.
Sound like standard console fare? Hold on, because it's actually anything but -- and not just because you get to play dress-up dollies with the bits and bobs you collect on your travels. Whether you're playing on your own or online with up to three friends (or strangers), you'll find a lot more than simple jumping puzzles in each inventive level. The hilariously bizarre nonsense that goes on in LittleBigPlanet 2 reads like a fevered dream journal: Defeat monsters by tossing exploding pastries and globes filled with jam, defend the interior of a madman's brain with a miniaturised ship, stay one step ahead of a giant robotic guard turkey, and tear down towering boss beasts.
Strange scenarios are just the beginning. Rather than just drag the occasional fuzzy block into place, you'll regularly stumble across all sorts of new power-ups and offbeat assistance. Grabinator mitts let you pick up and throw heavy gear like it's made of styrofoam; the Splashcannon fills water balloons, nurtures plants, and puts out fires; and the Creatinator helmet might fire just about anything. You'll also often get to swing from the adjustable line of a grappling hook that takes serious practice to master. There always seems to be some new upgrade waiting for you down the road, and they all combine to make you feel like a much more powerful little fellow than you were in the first game.
Even these toys don't come close to marking the limits of LittleBigPlanet 2's imagination. It's hard to argue that multiplayer mini-game side levels like billiards and pong are remotely memorable, but just wait until you pilot jump-slamming RoboBun furballs in Avalonia, lead adoring Sackbot automatons through pneumatic tubes and malfunctioning machinery in The Factory of a Better Tomorrow, or blast past a side-scrolling shooter stage or two in The Cosmos. Truly challenging puzzles are disappointingly rare, but not once did that fact pry the silly grin from my face.
The mechanics of LittleBigPlanet 2 never get old because they're constantly changing. Playing with friends is still the most enjoyable way to go, especially since there are a bunch of hidden areas you can only reach with the assistance of a pal or two (or three). Even playing on your own, though, you can expect the seven or so hours of the main campaign to disappear in a blur of variety and blissed-out personality.
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