Video Game Review: Inspiring, Creative World of Sony’s ‘Little Big Planet 2’

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CHICAGO – The first quarter of 2010 was the best of the calendar in the world of video games with stunning titles like “Mass Effect 2,” “Battlefield: Bad Company 2” and “Heavy Rain”. Media Molecule and Sony Computer Entertainment have kicked off the equivalent quarter in 2011 with another spectacular game, topping their legendary 2008 release with the highly anticipated follow-up “Little Big Planet 2”. Video Game Rating: 5.0/5.0
Video Game Rating: 5.0/5.0

Think about your favorite video game sequels and how they built on what worked about the original. “God of War II,” “Uncharted 2,” and “Mass Effect 2” come to mind when one thinks of titles that took good games and made them great. “Little Big Planet 2” deserves mention in the same breath as those games. It’s a stunning achievement, a wonderful embodiment of what has been called the “Play, Create, Share” genre. Even for this player, one who has never been too interested in customization/creation, “Little Big Planet 2” is fantastic. In other words, if you’re into the genre, you’ll likely adore it even more. Except for a few game physics that still feel a bit wonky (and it’s such a minor complaint when weighed against the rest of the title but the grapple hook drives me nuts), “Little Big Planet 2” is perfect.

Little Big Planet 2
Little Big Planet 2
Photo credit: Sony

“Little Big Planet” was a game-changer. As the wonderful Sackboy cleared mantle space for numerous Game of the Year awards, Media Molecule was already working on the sequel. The first game was simple enough in that it introduced a world that gave gamers more tools than ever in terms of making their own platformer. What was notable about the title for me was the success of it along varying degrees of user commitment. In other words, you could just play the pre-loaded story levels with no customization at all and still enjoy a kick-ass platformer. Or you could tweak your Sackboy with different outfits and make it a little bit more your own. Or you could go all out and basically make your own game and then share it with the world.

Little Big Planet 2
Little Big Planet 2
Photo credit: Sony

All of these elements — Play, Create, Share — have been upgraded in the sequel in surprisingly clever and rewarding ways. There’s not one element of “Little Big Planet 2” that feels inferior to the predecessor, something that can’t often be said about a sequel. The graphics, audio, gameplay, creation tools, story — every element has been refined and expanded upon in the way that we wish all sequels would operate: Take the strengths of your first game and amplify them while ironing out the weaknesses.

Most players will start with “Play,” a fantastic story portion that takes place across multiple worlds with a variety of game types and stunning level designs. Honestly, if “Little Big Planet 2” was JUST the platformer, it would still rule. The story is a little lackluster but the variety and ingenuity of the gameplay is stunning. It’s so continuously surprising and creative.

One minute, you’re playing a top-down shooter, the next you’re running through a maze, and then you’re bouncing around on a giant rabbit or rolling on a hamster. It’s a shockingly creative game at almost every minute, the kind of rare title that makes you smile just through its clever design and a game that demands replay, not just to collect all the goodies hiding or beat your high score from level to level but to experience the joyful variety yet again. And many of the story levels have co-op sections — areas of the game that can’t be reached on your own — which add to the title for those of you that love to play games with your friends.

After playing, you’ll want to create. Once again, the customization is DEEP. You can use the collectibles found throughout the story to personalize your Sackboy and alter a dozen other surface-level elements of the game like you do a Facebook profile. You can put up pins, pictures taken through your PlayStation Eye, comments, etc. and change the look of the game in millions of ways. Then dive into the world of level creation, where I expect many gamers will spend not just hours but days, weeks, and months.

“Little Big Planet 2” offers access to levels designed through the first game as well, and as I played through those my mind reeled at the creative explosion that’s likely to come with the new tools offered in this game. I simply don’t have the patience or time to devote to level creation that I wish I could but I eagerly await the creations of others. Maybe yours will be the one that rises to the top of the Highest Ranked and Most Played or becomes my ‘Most Hearted.’ I can’t wait to see what people have to offer.

Just think about that for a minute — “Little Big Planet 2” is a game that offers replayability through the creativity of the people that love it. It’s a title that’s not just imaginative but works because it inspires the imagination of others. Games were long accused of being a solitary affair but the development of co-op, multiplayer, customization, and creation tools have broken down those preconceptions. Media Molecule and Sony are leading the way with “Little Big Planet 2.”

Check out this breathtaking Adventure Trailer for a glimpse of what “Little Big Planet 2” has to offer:

“Little Big Planet 2” was developed by Media Molecule and released by Sony Computer Entertainment America. It was released on January 18th, 2011, exclusively for the PS3. It is rated E (Everyone). content director Brian Tallerico

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