I like almost everything about LBP 2 except playing it

I picked up a PS3 last week, and LittleBigPlanet 2 is among the games I have access to for free through PlayStation Plus. It wasn't the reason I got a PS3, but considering I'm already in the midst of Xenoblade and The World Ends with You (and about to start Mass Effect 2 and 3) I figured something lighter and more ephemeral was in order.

LBP 2 has a lot going for it. It's unlike any game I've played before, and Sony deserves tons of respect for allowing such a permissive and uncensored user-created level community. There's some crazy, mind-blowingly inventive and just plain amazing shit in there that's going to keep me coming back. The art direction is fantastic, the music is great (if, in hindsight, a bit forgettable), the cutesy aesthetic doesn't grate, and it's obvious a ton of care, thought and restraint went into the game.

That said, I just haven't came to terms with the way the game controls. It's extremely loose and physics-based, and I never feel fully in control of my character. Everything feels physics-based, but not in a good way. The character moves just a bit too slowly, and doesn't have enough air control for my tastes.

There's a grappling hook that requires you to move left and right to swing, but they also mapped the extend and retract controls to the same stick, which caused me to constantly mess up my momentum and dread those sequences. They could have avoid this by making holding a button lock the grappling hook length. And yes, I know how to abuse the grappling hook physics to jump high -- it still doesn't feel right.

Lastly, and maybe most egregious of them all, you can move up or down to switch between 1-3 recessed lanes. I get why they did this, but I was often finding myself running into walls, not knowing where to go, and cursing the fact that (unlike the grappling hook) you really need to deliberately push in a direction to switch lanes. There would certainly be trade-offs, but I think the game would have been better off as a pure 2D platformer, especially considering how busy the art style is.

As I said before, I have no doubt the way the game controls and plays is deliberate. I grew up on Mario games, and loved the feel of Super Meat Boy. I'm fully willing to concede that LBP 2 is a great game that's just not my style.

(On an unrelated note, the game has too many goddamn collectibles. I'm growing more and more resentful of games that abuse my uncontrollable need to collect all of the things.)

6 Comments
7 Comments
Posted by GrantHeaslip

I picked up a PS3 last week, and LittleBigPlanet 2 is among the games I have access to for free through PlayStation Plus. It wasn't the reason I got a PS3, but considering I'm already in the midst of Xenoblade and The World Ends with You (and about to start Mass Effect 2 and 3) I figured something lighter and more ephemeral was in order.

LBP 2 has a lot going for it. It's unlike any game I've played before, and Sony deserves tons of respect for allowing such a permissive and uncensored user-created level community. There's some crazy, mind-blowingly inventive and just plain amazing shit in there that's going to keep me coming back. The art direction is fantastic, the music is great (if, in hindsight, a bit forgettable), the cutesy aesthetic doesn't grate, and it's obvious a ton of care, thought and restraint went into the game.

That said, I just haven't came to terms with the way the game controls. It's extremely loose and physics-based, and I never feel fully in control of my character. Everything feels physics-based, but not in a good way. The character moves just a bit too slowly, and doesn't have enough air control for my tastes.

There's a grappling hook that requires you to move left and right to swing, but they also mapped the extend and retract controls to the same stick, which caused me to constantly mess up my momentum and dread those sequences. They could have avoid this by making holding a button lock the grappling hook length. And yes, I know how to abuse the grappling hook physics to jump high -- it still doesn't feel right.

Lastly, and maybe most egregious of them all, you can move up or down to switch between 1-3 recessed lanes. I get why they did this, but I was often finding myself running into walls, not knowing where to go, and cursing the fact that (unlike the grappling hook) you really need to deliberately push in a direction to switch lanes. There would certainly be trade-offs, but I think the game would have been better off as a pure 2D platformer, especially considering how busy the art style is.

As I said before, I have no doubt the way the game controls and plays is deliberate. I grew up on Mario games, and loved the feel of Super Meat Boy. I'm fully willing to concede that LBP 2 is a great game that's just not my style.

(On an unrelated note, the game has too many goddamn collectibles. I'm growing more and more resentful of games that abuse my uncontrollable need to collect all of the things.)

Posted by deox

I kind of see where your coming from in terms of the controls. It was an instant turn off for me when I first played the original LBP, but something about the game just pulled me in. Even though I still find the controls in LBP2 to be frustrating at times, I'm a big fan of the game, and I still have a ton of fun playing it.

Posted by mosespippy

For me, the controls weren't the worst part. The way that good levels get surfaced is. They just reached 7 million levels. Probably close to 89% of them aren't worth playing. The other 11% don't get much exposure. For at least 7 months after the release there were the same levels at the top when you search for popular levels or cool levels. If it worked right I'd be able to turn the game on every day and have new content sitting at the top of the list. Instead, nothing new gets exposed except for the few levels that get featured each week.

Posted by GrantHeaslip

@mosespippy said:

For me, the controls weren't the worst part. The way that good levels get surfaced is. They just reached 7 million levels. Probably close to 89% of them aren't worth playing. The other 11% don't get much exposure. For at least 7 months after the release there were the same levels at the top when you search for popular levels or cool levels. If it worked right I'd be able to turn the game on every day and have new content sitting at the top of the list. Instead, nothing new gets exposed except for the few levels that get featured each week.

There's a "MM picks" section, which seems to be what you're looking for. I've been sticking mostly with that, since the most popular section seems to contain mostly crap. I agree that discoverability is an issue, and probably not an easily-solved one.

Posted by mosespippy

@GrantHeaslip: I already mentioned the few featured levels each week. A few levels a week isn't enough. It's a small enough amount that I can stop playing after a half hour and be out of new levels for a week. I was once told that to discover good new level I had to go to fan sites and and add levels to my queue from there. My opinion is that if I need to stop playing the game to find the good part of the game then it is fundamentally broken.

Posted by Fearbeard

I'm in the same boat. I love seeing what people can create in it, but I've never enjoyed the platforming in the series.

Posted by GrantHeaslip

@mosespippy said:

@GrantHeaslip: I already mentioned the few featured levels each week. A few levels a week isn't enough. It's a small enough amount that I can stop playing after a half hour and be out of new levels for a week. I was once told that to discover good new level I had to go to fan sites and and add levels to my queue from there. My opinion is that if I need to stop playing the game to find the good part of the game then it is fundamentally broken.

Right, missed that. And agreed, I really don't want to have to troll through fan sites to find good levels (and I play games on the same monitor my computer's hooked up to).