LittleBigPlanet 2 BETA Impressions|
Written by Arend Hart
November 15, 2010
I just experienced a few hours of bliss playing the five OEM levels, and countless user-designed levels that make up the beta release of LittleBigPlanet2, in preparation for the game’s scheduled January 2011 release. As a huge fan of the original PS3 release and the excellent standalone release on the PSP, I was wondering how the folks at Media Molecule could possibly improve on the DIY formula of the original, but less than 10 minutes in and all the wondering evaporated. LitttleBigPlanet2 packs in so many new features, enhancements, and gameplay elements, it is like experiencing last year’s wonder all over again.
I could not possibly cover all the game changing LittleBigPlanet2 improvements in this article, but I would like to touch on some of the more obvious enhancements. While the game retains the same general menu system of the earlier titles, there has been an obvious boost in the quality of the visuals – the colors are richer, the polygons more shapely, the textures are more lifelike, and the world just seems all-around more alive than the previous versions. LittleBigPlanet2 is a treat for the eyes and every minute I spent playing it I found myself even more blown away by the improvements in the visual department.
It does not take long before the game introduces the first of the new gadgets – the grappling hook. Unlike the jetpack that came before it, the grappling hook is not chained-down, and as so can be carried throughout the level and used as needed on surfaces with compatible textures. I found the mechanics around the hook a bit awkward at first , and I kept accidentally discarding mine just when I needed it most, causing a good deal of backtracking to retrieve a replacement. But once I got the hang of the device, it quickly became second nature.
The second of the new gadgets is the aptly named “Creationator” – which is basically a Sackboy-sized miner’s helmet that can spawn any inventoried object from its headlight on command. The Creationator is one of the most unique in-game gadgets since Ratchet and Clank’s legendary Decoy Glove, and has countless uses in the world of LittleBigPlanet2 – especially in the multiplayer battles.
Then there are the sackbots – much like the bots in Ratchet and Clank, the sackbots are Sackboy’s minions that can be used to help trigger switches and perform duties, but must also be managed and protected to avoid harm. But beyond the gadgets, the features that are garnering the most attention are the advances made in the level creation tools – and let me tell you, from what I saw already created by the other Beta gamers was absolutely mind-blowing.
Whereas the creations in the original titles were limited by the boundaries of the games’ standard playfield, LBP2 supports user submissions that are near standalone games of their own – and I mean games that go way beyond the boundaries set by the original. From Galaxian-style shooters, to old-school isometric RC Pro-Am style racers, there is a little here for everyone. This advanced programming is possible through the inclusion of “chips” which allow budding developers to develop bits of AI logic and share them through the world of LittleBigPlanet. The chip feature alone is sure to fuel the DIY longevity even further than that of the original game, and it’s interesting to note that the developers are citing the possibility of “chip factories” cropping up to develop and trade these AI plug-ins.
I could go on and on about the wonderful advances in BittleBigPlanet2, but I am going to leave good enough alone. This is by far the most interesting franchise in gaming, and I cannot wait for the final release.
LittleBigPlanet 2 BETA Screens