PS3 Review: Little Big Planet 2

Without a doubt the first Little Big Planet helped define the PS3 in the current generation. Its aesthetics and it customisation gameplay have sparked off a number of similar games across different consoles. At that time Media Molecule was adamant that they did not want to make a sequel unless there were elements that they could seriously improve and offer gamers over the original. A few years later we are presented with Little Big Planet 2 (the PSP outing was never regarded as a real sequel although I did buy the special edition PSP for that). So did Media Molecule manage to outdo their previous game?

Welcome! :)

The first look of Little Big Planet 2 is extremely familiar. Out of the box are similar aesthetics that the series followers loved. The fact that the game automatically uploads all your game saves and goodies from the last game, before starting a new game, brings you right at home. Within a minute, you are back with your favourite pod, diligently customised Sackperson and all the great levels you’d designed in the first game. For those new to the series, there are story based tutorials to ease you in so don’t need to feel left out if you just joined this community.

Speaking of the story, Little Big Planet 2 seemed to have put more thought into the story in relation to the levels. The storyline makes so much more sense as compared to the first one. Also because of that, there were some great level design that fit into the storyline seamlessly. The first game is about platforming, but the second game has brought this up a level by balancing platforming with a great variety of gameplay. There are now side scrolling shooting levels mixed in between ingenious platforming levels. Even for the platforming levels, a variety of tools and gameplays were included. The use of a grapple hook and other tools added just enough variety to the platforming experience without plaguing them with unnecessary redundancy. Some of my favourites were the “cakeinator” and the hamsters. They simply put a smile on your face. The level designs have also improved to include mechanics for using your new tools to solve puzzle through their nature or physics.

King of the Jungle?

Some of you may (or may not) agree that in the first game, there are some levels that are just nuisances (I’m looking at you – the bloody wheel wall climb in the Japanese world). They are a nuisance. Not in a way that you can’t figure out what to do, but in the way of requiring luck over skills to be successful. Little Big Planet 2 has addressed these issues. There are still areas that you need quite a bit of skill and patience, but they are now reserved for hard-to-get items instead of part of the main flow. So for seasoned gamers who want to collect everything, they can challenge themselves to go to those ledges and try polygon precision moves. But for people who want to just experience and breeze through the game, they can do so with just the right amount of difficulty.

Little Big Planet is about customisation. The second offering in the series just happened to offer a lot more. The fact that you keep all the stuff you got from the first game to go into the second game opened up a lot more possibilities for your favourite Sackperson to evolve into different personalities. If you have been a keen downloader of the first game, then you will understand how big a pool of item customisation there is for you in the second game. All these items play a crucial part in not only dressing up your Sackperson, but also in level building that shapes the community of the game. Anyone who had jumped on to the online community will agree that this is where the imagination of Little Big Planet exploded. Now that  you have extra tools at your disposal, you now also have new opportunities for creativity. The most notable ones are the shooting gadget and the Sackbots. With the shooting gadget you can create anything to be shot out of it, and with Sackbots you can create friends or foes in your levels to spice up your platforming experience. Sackbots can behave in different manners according to the AI settings, which in turn are extremely customisable. You want a Resident Evil level? You can now dress up your Sackbots as zombies and make them move like zombies and chase after you in your levels. The level creator in Little Big Planet 2 does live up to its creator name.

Sackbot and the Dog

The online component of Little Big Planet 2 is still core to the gameplay. Not only you can jump on to the community to play community levels, or choose a particular level and join other people’s games, you can now just dive into a random game with random partners just for the thrill of finding out what’s next on the menu. However, as compared to the first game, loading time for joining or hosting an online session seems to be a lot longer in Little Big Planet 2. Whether this is due to the sheer number of people online, or that it now consumes a lot more resources on your PS3 or network is unknown but the longer loading time is quite notable.

Little Big Planet 2 is not without flaws. There were times that the game didn’t behave as it should. My experience included the main weapon in a boss fight disappearing permanently during the fight and I needed to restart the level to do it all over again, and the game won’t let you skip the cut scene right before the end of the level (which of course required me to play through the whole level all over again). The glitches are not frequent but for a game such as Little Big Planet 2, that does have some unforgiving levels and platforming, this could be frustrating.

It's a big big world out there...

On the whole Little Big Planet 2 has outdone its brother with a much better balanced game that offered new thrills and experience to veteran and new players of the franchise alike. It has moved to the  right direction and made a mark for itself. The question is, if Sony pushed for a third instalment, what more can they offer? But for the time being just enjoy the company of your favourite Sackperson once again.

Rating: ★★★★★★★★★☆

About the Author

Level up freak. Level 99 is a norm not a goal. Love my JRPGs and RPGs in general. Also love my platformers and puzzle games. Was addicted to Zoo Keeper, Magnetica, Animal Crossing, Disgaea DS, Dragon Quest IX and White Knight Chronicles. Prefer to spend my time away from gaming as an actor although do have a full time job that keeps my mortgage going. But generally love anything creative. And if anyone tells you gaming is a waste of time, tell them you have great eye, hand and brain coordinations that they will never have!