Published on October 1st, 2010 | by Swaine Dillinger1
LittleBigPlanet 2 – Preview
It’s time to get your creative juices flowing once again, as Media Molecule continues to gear up to the release of one of PlayStation 3’s most highly anticipated sequels of the year, LittleBigPlanet 2.
This time around the narrative (affectionately described by Media Molecule co-founder Alex Evans as being ‘quite mental’) centers on Sackboy being recruited to an Alliance led by Da Vinci. The legendary inventor’s worried that an enormous space vacuum looming overhead – dubbed the Negativatron – is about to destroy Craft World, and introduces you to a number of friends you must recruit in your plight to save the world. Cue plenty of British humor and an incredibly lengthy, wacky and enjoyable portion of what LittleBigPlanet 2 has to offer.
But, of course, as with the original, Story mode is but a small part of a much bigger picture, and creativity once again plays a particularly fundamental role in the game. As with the original, LBP2 allows aspiring game designers to use a selection of accessible tools to produce their own platform-based levels and tweak them to their hearts’ content. Whether you sought to create a fire-breathing dragon or even a fully functioning calculator, there was something for everyone, and Media Molecule has ramped up the opportunities tenfold for the sequel, and through streamlining old tools and throwing in a number of additional ones, creators are now able to build whole games.
One new tool is a unique twist on the Creatinator. Dubbed the ‘Cakeanator’, it introduces a new type of particle to the LittleBigPlanet universe and provides the player with the opportunity to spray cake icing, or ‘cake juice’ as the development team lovingly refers to it, wherever you please. As you may have predicted, it serves to achieve a multitude of purposes within both puzzle and physics-based encounters. In the level on show, for example, it was necessary to use the ‘juice’ in a number of circumstances – weighing down a platform, neutralizing a group of enemies, building a bridge to allow you to traverse a gap and to clog up a series of cogs allowing you to pass a trap unscathed.
However, one of the biggest additions is the new ‘Sequencer’ tool, which serves a multitude of uses. While primarily designed to allow users to create their own music, through the application of sequencing a variety of instruments and defining the pitches and rhythms that they play, the tool is also able to be used in level creation. To demonstrate this we saw ‘Caterpillar Climb,’ a top-down survival level that sees Sackboy climb the inside of a tree while dodging an increasingly difficult number of obstacles. Having been designed in sections, each piece is created through the sequencer as your progress hints at the sheer possibilities that such a tool will offer users and the heightened speed at which levels may be designed.
Finally we had ‘Lift Off,’ another story level midway through the game that sees Sackboy aboard a spaceship alongside Da Vinci and friends. Having left the Bridge, we had to navigate our way along a series of corridors, pulling and pushing levers as we went to alter gravity and bypass a number of obstacles. On our travels we pass a series of fully playable arcade machines, with titles in the style of Pong and Breakout available. It’s a delightful retro throwback, and a humorous touch by the studio. Shortly our progress is interrupted as the enormous Negativatron appears and sucks up the rear end of the vessel, with the resulting effect of plunging the entire ship into zero gravity. The subsequent finale becomes a joyous ‘float to the finish line’ as you race for survival, and a peak at some truly brilliant design by the Guildford-based team.
November surely can’t come soon enough, and with the promise of a LittleBigPlanet 2 Beta set to fill our time up until launch, we can rest easy knowing that Media Molecule are surely onto their second winner.