LittleBigPlanet 2 review – Play, Create, Share, Iterate?

Sony’s Next Next Big Thing hits our hard drives. Has Sackboy still got what it takes?

By Edwin Evans-Thirlwell, January 5, 2011

Story levels function as both showcases and storehouses for the items available in Edit mode, constructed from the very same emitters, sensors, materials, joints and stickers you’ll boost from item bubbles along the way. (When you build your own levels, you can populate them with your own, hand-crafted rewards.) This results in a cycle of foraging and manufacture which is strangely reminiscent of Monster Hunter: you’ll set off into one of the six pre-fabbed worlds, then retire gleefully to the forge with your loot – closely shadowed by Stephen Fry, whose avuncular chucklings once again grease the tutorial videos (now grouped into a list, rather than scattered across the inventory).

Why stop at platformers?

The new devices and items are designed, for the most part, to simplify and condense editing practices that involved much fiddling with logic gates, switches and other paraphernalia in the first game, thus giving level editors the leisure to focus on bigger goals. Resizeable “microchips” or gameplay sequencing boards allow immense logic circuits to be assembled at a smaller memory cost. New link doors move players between worlds without obliging them to pull back to the Sharing screens first.

The “Controllinator” lets you remap the Dualshock pad itself, tying inputs directly to objects or tools to create discreet control schemes within a level, making it possible to craft entire new game types in moments. I used the tool to power a towering pinball table of doom, for instance, pounding face buttons to flip a single-seater foam capsule into a fiery ceiling, the view zooming and panning as the “ball” came within range of carefully placed camera triggers.

If you tore your hair out bolting together NPC beasties last time round, the inclusion of Sackbots, square-edged, programmable AI personalities, is the answer to your prayers. Able to run, jump and switch movement planes independently, operate power-ups like the Creatinator (which fires whatever kind of ammo you’d care to invent), follow a few preset behaviours and even playback your own actions, they’ll happily fill in as enemies, allies, bystanders or any combination of the three.

The Sackbots get an entire world to themselves in Story Mode, a balefully lit hamster-run of conveyor belts and vacuum tubes which calls to mind Sonic 2′s Chemical Plant Zone, Tim Schafer’s Psychonauts and the factories of the Oddworld series. Neon Space Invader claws grip terrified Sackbots along the path, and your job is to shepherd them towards the finish, where an LED counter unlocks an item for every gaggle of lost souls restored.

Occurring halfway through the campaign, it’s a welcome change-up to the base platform design, and prompted much hand-rubbing from this writer at the prospect of a more overt Oddworld tribute. Which is LBP2 in a nutshell, really – a game so steeped in references you’ll need to check into some kind of nostalgia detox clinic come February, but a game whose on-the-face-of-it appeal is underwritten by the larger thrill of being able, should you so choose, to rebuild or remix the entire thing at your workbench.

Pretty much everything can be played with up to three friends, including Edit mode, whether online or locally.

And if that’s a trick the original pulled off too, Media Molecule’s additions to the editing tools and wholesale carrying-over of user-created content justify a second outlay. LittleBigPlanet 2 makes no bones of being part of an on-going project, reaching back into the still-blossoming folds of its predecessor not to paint over or recompose, but to straighten out, to rearticulate, to clarify. Within the admittedly small circle of console-based sandbox editorship, the franchise has re-cemented its place at the top of the ladder.

9out of 10
Read our scoring guide here.

2 Responses to “LittleBigPlanet 2 review – Play, Create, Share, Iterate?”

  1. Rhys125 says:

    It should be noted that the grappling hook can attach itself to any grabbable material. You can also make ANY material grabbable in create mode by using a “material tweaker”.

  2. zarbor says:

    Maybe I’m all platformered out but I really can’t get into this game. I bought the first one and got bored quickly. Got the second one and it the same thing.

    Like the Wii, I guess this isn’t my type of game. Yet it get so much praise from the media and gamers alike. I can honestly say, I’m the odd man out.


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