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
- 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.
What's truly astonishing about this game, however, is that even after you've completed every story mission without dying, collected every last sticker and decoration, and climbed each level's leaderboards as high as you can, you still can't claim to have even scratched the surface. While the customisation features of most games begin and end with superficial costume swaps, LittleBigPlanet 2 is also a full-fledged game development platform. What's more, because not one of its many gameplay ideas is ever beaten into the ground, every one also serves as an appetiser of sorts, as though designed solely to lure you into joining the cult of creation and crafting your own new experiences.
When you're ready, you'll find over fifty gentle tutorials, where Stephen Fry's voice instructs you how to do everything from create scenery or animate obstacles to manipulate microchips and write your own music. What could've easily been hopelessly dry and tedious classroom sessions are instead enlivened with goofy silliness, from detonating a fuzzy bear helper to arranging for the alien abduction of a spotted cow. Each tutorial also rewards completion with even more collectible goodies, which you might then use to spruce up your custom levels before publishing them for the world to download and enjoy.
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. The new Controlinator is a particularly powerful, yet remarkably accessible new addition: Slap its chip down, then use its circuit board to tie the individual buttons and sticks of the PlayStation 3 controller to in-game actions with remarkable ease. This single tool alone throws the doors wide on a wealth of new possibilities.
Heck, it'd probably be easier to list the things you can't do with LittleBigPlanet 2. The level of ingenuity on display in the limited beta alone was already off the charts. Action-RPGs, flight simulators, auto racing, tower defence, sketch comedy, moody adventures -- you name it, it's already out there in some form. Hell, some intrepid soul even worked out how to make a primitive first-person shooter. If these are the things a limited subset of part-time artisans produced before the game was even released, one can only imagine the amazing things amateur creators will set loose upon the world in the weeks, months, and years ahead. Talk about value for your money.
Even if you decide you don't have the time and patience to build a lasting masterpiece -- and make no mistake, even here game development takes an inordinate amount of both -- you could spend weeks just playing, rating, and commenting on the efforts of others. Whether you're looking for a solo diversion or online camaraderie, personal expression or community inclusion, there's just no good reason whatsoever not to dive in and explore the many wild worlds of LittleBigPlanet 2.
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