Giant Bomb Review

60 Comments

LittleBigPlanet 2 Review

5
  • PS3

The variety afforded by LBP2's more sophisticated tools allow creators to build levels that are exponentially more complicated and interesting than what was possible in the first game.

Avalon Centrifuge is one of the creators you'll encounter during the story. 
On the surface, you might not think that LittleBigPlanet 2 looks vasty different from its predecessor. And, if you're looking at the single-player "story" side of the game, you're right, it's not a huge shift. But all of the underlying bits have become significantly more sophisticated, allowing players to take the level creation tools and create some incredible things. Those tools mean that levels that fall outside of the standard platforming genre are now easier to create, exponentially expanding the sorts of levels that an average person with a ton of free time can make. On top of that, LBP2 is better about getting you into those levels, with a lot of great filters and options that make finding the best stuff easier than it's ever been. It's an intensely charming and engaging game that really stands out as one of the smoothest examples of how to handle user-generated content on a console.

The story mode is structured a lot like the first game's, and it serves the same basic purpose. There's an evil force out there, and you'll work with a batch of "Creators" to right the wrongs and get things back to normal. It feels like these levels are largely designed to introduce you to the new mechanics of LBP2, like a grappling hook that you can use for swinging and climbing, or the grabinator, a pair of gloves that let you pick up and toss objects. You'll also start to get a sense of how you might use these new things in your own levels. You'll also get a user's-eye look at the controllinator, which is an in-game device that can be hooked up to allow you to use the DualShock to control objects other than Sackboy. This is what allows you to control cars, play dual-joystick shooters, fly lunar landers, or just about anything else you can come up with. It's a big part of what makes LBP2 so much broader than its predecessor.

The single-player is a brief romp that, as before, is practically required since you'll unlock a ton of objects and stickers for use in the create mode. Interacting with the level creation tools hasn't changed a lot since the first game, though there are plenty of required tutorials to go through before you can really start creating your own levels. You'll still shuffle objects back and forth along the three usable planes, and you're still represented in the creator as a floating Sackboy, as opposed to a mouse cursor or anything, well, "tool-like." While the tools are pretty easy to use and are usually explained well by the 50+ tutorials, getting in there and creating something awesome isn't an especially fast process. It seems like a mouse or a PlayStation Move controller would make things happen more quickly, but the game doesn't currently support either. Word is that a patch is on the way, though.

The official levels will introduce you to the basic concepts.
Let's face it: Most of us are never going to put in the time it takes to build a world-class LittleBigPlanet 2 level. But there are plenty of people out there giving it their all, and the game is superb when it comes to sifting through these levels and getting the best of the best into your hands. The community section has plenty of filters that let you look at the highest-rated levels, the newest, or ones that are marked with specific tags. So if you want the newest levels that employ the controllinator (which is my current favorite way to sort it all), you can do exactly that. You can also do all of this while you're away from your PS3 via lbp.me, the game's official site. The site has a great database of user-created levels, along with all of the review, rating, and tag data that comes along with them. If you feed the site your PSN login credentials, you can even add any levels that look interesting to a queue. When you fire up the game, it'll immediately notice the list of levels you lined up and let you dive right into those without any more work. It's one of the best ways to integrate a website with a game that I've seen so far, and it's become my preferred way to find and share user levels.

There's an awful lot of wonder and joy to be found in those user levels. It starts by being fully compatible with levels created in the first game, giving you a great base to start with. But a lengthy beta and a collection of busy creators have been putting LBP2's improved tools to great use, resulting in goofy fighting games, better basketball games, multiplayer shooters, bootleg versions of The Legend of Zelda's first dungeon, a zillion levels with unlicensed Mario elements, and that's only scratching the surface. Some players are just building machinima-style movies with the level tools and telling their own stories. Even the music levels that just play MIDI-like versions of real songs are better thanks to a rebuilt music sequencer.  The sheer number of levels can be a little overwhelming, but with the great level-sorting tools, it becomes easy to spend hours just checking out and rating the work of others and leave you wanting even more.

What you do with those basic concepts? That's your business... and Nintendo's business, now that I think about it. 
The only downside is more a matter of taste than a genuine issue: the platforming action of the core LBP gameplay is largely unchanged. Considering the backwards compatibility, it's easy to understand why Sackboy still moves and jumps the way he does, but it never feels like it's quite responsive enough. Granted, that's sort of a perception issue that comes from me spending so many years playing platformers, and well-designed levels (like the official levels) aren't built in a way that makes this a glaring issue. I guess I just wish that Sackboy jumped a little higher? Regardless, if the way Sackboy moves turned you off two years ago, it's still going to bother you in LBP2.

The tool upgrades given to creators in LittleBigPlanet 2 are enough to make the game feel pretty fresh, making the game worthwhile even if you never actually delve into the creation mode yourself. But if you've got a great level idea burning a hole in your brain, and don't mind putting in a grip of time to get it just right, you'll find the tools to be pretty accommodating once you learn how they all work. Me, I'm perfectly content with just surfing through the lists of levels, picking out the craziest examples I can find, and losing myself in a world of twisted Mario clones, shooters, and levels loosely based on feature films. So get out there and create some more of those for me, cool? Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
60 Comments
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Edited by TheSeductiveMoose

I bought this, even though I wasn't such a big fan of the first one. I do not regret my decision.

Posted by guthwulf

Very Nice.

Edited by Grissefar

So many 5´s. 2011 is already heaps ahead of 2010.

Posted by fwylo

Two 5 out of 5's in a row, when is the last time this happened?

Posted by Gizmo

I could just write 'cool' or 'first' but instead i'm going to take the time to say how much I am enjoying LBP2. Early frontrunner for my GOTY.

Posted by gla55jAw

I'm going to get this soon.

Edited by MarkWahlberg

All things considered, it's probably for the best that I don't have a PS3. I tend to get... carried away when I'm allowed to create stuff.

Posted by Wuddel

Called it. (Well, not hard at all this time.) Back in the ICI game! 
 
I love the concept of the game. I am more interested in the creating, but all the stuff that has been done even puts my wildest ambitions to shame. Also, I always thought, that there should be a PC/Mac level editor. This would be much more fun to operate.

Posted by louis0nfire

Nice!

Posted by AmericanNinja

yes!

Posted by pigeoncamera

I, for one, am loving it.

Posted by Pabba

Will get this the day I get...a PS3!
Posted by Zamir
Posted by MooseyMcMan

Rad!

Posted by BasketSnake

Spot on and may I say that your hearted creator list is fantastic.

Posted by MisterMouse

awesome! I cant wait to see what is being made in a year. Giantbomb should do a one year update of LBP2 to show some of the coolest levels.

Posted by yoshimitz707

Great review. Now get to reviewing Ghost Trick!

Posted by Th3_James

I might get this..

Posted by mracoon

I called it.

Moderator
Posted by Kjellm87

Will not happen, but Nintendo should've put some costumes into this.
Anyway, game looks great and can wait to see what people come up with the new stuff

Posted by PLWolf

Awesome review, Jeff! I'll be picking this up next week. CAN'T WAIT!

Posted by Tesla
@TheSeductiveMoose said:
" I bought this, even though I wasn't such a big fan of the first one. I do not regret my decision. "
Posted by EgoCheck616

Yeeeeeeeeeoooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!! 
Can't wait to pick this up next week along with Dead Space 2.

Posted by Kraznor

Isn't the platforming still terrible though? You know, the core game mechanic. Nothing I've seen of this game suggests otherwise, they just piled tons of stuff on top of it. But hey, what do I know, I stopped playing the first game after two weeks or so.

Posted by Little_Socrates

Somebody managed to make The Legend of Zelda? This I kind of need to see.

Posted by coolvee

I think u can address the platforming by tweaking the unlockable sack-bot. U can add double jumping etc...pretty neat!

Posted by RockyRaccoon37
@Kraznor:  The platforming was never terrible-- it was, and still is, an acquired taste.
Posted by Chris2KLee

Looks pretty good, haven't played LBP in a long time, but this looks like a good way to get back in.

Online
Posted by JJOR64

The game looks sick.  Might have to pick it up.  Haven't bought a PS3 game in about 2 years.

Posted by Pkshields

Was a huge fan of the first one but wasn't really into the demo for this, but got it on Monday and glad I did. Game is just pure fun to play. Except for the grappling hook, I HATE the way that thing feels.

Posted by InfamousBIG

Fuck you jeff.  Fuck you.   I just lost SO much Xp on i'm callin it.

Posted by Mercanis

I don't have a PS3, but I sure am glad games like this exist. It sounds like Media Molecule took the first game and improved it in every way. Being able to not only create interesting content but easily sort through it all via in-game and browser interfaces must have been quite an engineering feat on so many levels.

Posted by TomA

I don't have a PS3 either, but this looks so so awesome.

Posted by KaosAngel

Too high. 
 
Prove me wrong people who take scores seriously.

Posted by CosmicQueso
@KaosAngel said:
" Too high.  Prove me wrong people who take scores seriously. "
Serious gaming is serious. 
Posted by embef

Dude, this is the greatest multiplayer game for all time

Posted by floodiastus
@KaosAngel said:
" Too high.  Prove me wrong people who take scores seriously. "
agree
Posted by IAMTHAT

Yeah you go Sackboy you go!

Posted by PrivateIronTFU
@KaosAngel said:
" Too high.  Prove me wrong people who take scores seriously. "
I don't get what you're trying to say.
Posted by Xshinobi

I guess LBP2 proves that a platformer doesn't need to control well to get a high score.

Posted by Godlyawesomeguy

This is a down the road purchase for me.

Edited by DonPixel
@KaosAngel said:

" Too high.  Prove me wrong people who take scores seriously.  

¿?  
 
so .... you high? that ain´t healthy
Posted by Redbullet685

I love this game!

Posted by wrathofconn
@KaosAngel said:
" Too high.  Prove me wrong people who take scores seriously. "
Why don't you prove Jeff wrong, if you think his opinion is so off-base?
Posted by Vinny_Says
@fwylo said:
" Two 5 out of 5's in a row, when is the last time this happened? "
Bowser's inside story followed by Dragon Age Origins the next day.
Posted by JerichoBlyth

It's as bollocks as you want it to be!

Posted by Jayross

This game is amazing. I never played the first one so I am sure that is helping, but damn, I love this game. 
 
It's awesome with four people, local or multiplayer.

Posted by TwoOneFive

whats great is, the physics of "sackboy" or whatever else you design to be controlled by the player can have whatever physics you like. hence a near perfect sonic replica has been created thats just as fast and sharp as the original!

Posted by Claude

The obligatory only if I had a PS3 response.

Posted by HadesTimes

I think that as long as there is a good community of creators this game will be great. I'm not sure I agree with a 5/5, but hey Jeff has a right to his opinion. 

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