LittleBigPlanet 2 Preview
After selling 3 million copies and generating 2.3 million user-created levels, the original LittleBigPlanet has made a significant impact on the industry. Due to its innovative and perhaps even revolutionary “Play, Create, Share” concept, PlayStation 3 owners were treated to an unparalleled level of customization and creative freedom. But developer Media Molecule is taking yet another step with LittleBigPlanet 2, which should once again wow players and critics alike. Boasting backwards compatibility (all your ingenious designing work from the original title will transfer over), the ability to create entire games within the game, and intelligent new characters known as “Sackbots,” this sequel is primed to redefine the nature of user freedom. We’ll also receive no less than 30 new developer-designed levels, an overhauled camera, and direct-control vehicles, so if you’ve asked yourself, “gee, I wonder what else they can do,” you gotta check out these new details. They're uber-impressive.
Let’s start with that new camera system: players will actually be able to create full cinematic scenes for simple viewing on their own, or inclusion in freshly-built levels. And you know, it goes far beyond the basics; you’ll have control over everything from the camera’s position and tilt to transition and timing. On top of which, you can take yet another step and record voiceovers for your characters, and that sounds downright insane. In our heads, we’ve given silent video game characters voices in the past but for the first time ever, we can finally lend our own voices to the little dudes on screen! But of course, you need more than just voices for your movie/cut-scene directing; you also need actors, which is where the aforementioned Sackbots come in. They stand at the ready, awaiting your command, and the sheer amount of behavioral-based orders they can receive and understand is amazing. These NPCs are only gonna be as stupid as you allow them to be, my friends.
Heck, you can even give them an attitude if you so desire. I’m already thinking about taking a small cast of Sackbots and creating a bunch of enemies for the hero – Sackboy, of course – to battle. Or maybe I’ll make some that are allies. In the latter case, you can assign standard commands like follow or flee, or you can have them patrol certain parts of a level. You can say whether or not they’re capable of jumping, give them a defined personality and/or goal, and even assign a certain level of bravery; the cowardly ones will flinch in the face of opposition. Lastly, in the spirit of total and complete customization freedom, you can even generate unique animations for each Sackbot by utilizing the Sixaxis controller. There are a few animations built in, of course, but to have full control, feel free to build a Sackbot quite literally from the ground up. To do so means accessing the special circuit boards that will dictate each Sackbot.
The brain of each NPC can actually be applied to just about any other object in the game that requires AI, and Media Molecule has gone to the extra effort of reducing the amount of space required. The first title had the player setting up a ton of switches and wires and all that circuitry sort of dominated all the space in any given level. But in LBP2, all of it will be placed on a single solitary microchip, which can then be attached quickly and easily to whatever you wish…like, for instance, those direct-control vehicles. You can slap a direct-control seat onto almost any object, and then you can use the controller to move it about; in addition, you can open up a direct-control circuit board and assign specific functions to each button. Take all these little micromanagement facets and add them to the overriding concept of allowing maximum freedom, and you’ve got one of the most in-depth games you’ve ever experienced. If you’re willing to put in the requisite time, you can really bring your very own vision to life.
Lastly, the new sharing system will let you distribute your best work as multiple-level creations; i.e., entire little games you developed on your own, which don’t have to be limited to simple platforming mechanics. Toss in 75 new costumes, a whole horde of new themes and sticker packs, and more tools than you can shake a stick at, and LittleBigPlanet 2 is absolutely jam-packed. I particularly like the fact that available themes will highlight various points in the industry’s growth; it’s the melding of the unique, cutesy LBP style with retro gaming: Neon Propaganda, Designer Organic, Handmade Arcade, Techno Renaissance, Fluffy Hi-Tech, and more. It’s just major cool. We were plenty satisfied with the original and nobody denies the innovative elements within, but this time…man, it’s almost too huge and unrestricted to fathom.
5/10/2010 Ben Dutka
|10/21/10||LittleBigPlanet 2||Ben Dutka|