Since its initial release, Little Big Planet has amassed a sizable fan-base and nestled itself as one of the cornerstone PS3 exclusives. Now I should probably mention that I haven’t played the first Little Big Planet, or any PS3 exclusive for that matter. It’s not that I’m anti-PS3 or anything; I just never got around to buying the system. Still haven’t. In fact, this review is being done on a friend’s borrowed console, but maybe that means I have the advantage in reviewing this game; my being completely ignorant of any fan-boy preconceptions means that I’ll be free to write a 100% honest review.
Starting It Up
Before getting the main menu there was a small introduction level that highlighted the names and faces of the game’s developers (I thought it was creepy), but the level also showed off what the game is really about, complete customization. As Sackboy, I hopped through the level while a calm Albus Dumbledore-sounding narrator walked me through the simple control scheme and rich character customization menus, and I was generally having a good time. Then the sack hit the fan with the introduction of the game’s villain, “The Negativitron,” and it occurred to me that this game actually had a story.
Upon escaping from “The Negativitron,” Sackboy is recruited into a semi-organized group, called simply “The Alliance,” by a newspaper-bearded inventor named Larry Da Vinci to help battle the menace. Through the course of the campaign, Sackboy meets up with a number of quirky characters as he works with the Alliance to unify LBP’s fighting forces culminating in a final battle with the game’s villain.
Overall, I enjoyed the campaign. It had a good mixture of storytelling and action, and while the characters may have been quirky, they also displayed a surprising amount of depth and emotion. Most importantly, the campaign never felt stale. Each area presented its own unique look, set of play mechanics, goals, and boss battles.
When it comes right down to it though, the story of LBP2 was made to introduce players to the creative possibilities of the game. Thus, after completing the story myself I was more than a little eager to see what I could cook up in the level creator. When I first jumped in, I was surprised at the apparent simplicity of the tools and resources offered to create with, but as I watched some of the tutorials (they are many) and messed with the system myself I realized that I was very wrong. The level creator is incredibly deep, allowing users to create not only anything they want, but have their creations work exactly the way they intend.
After playing for a bit in the level creator, I jumped over to the “Community” section of the game where individuals can share their creations with the world. I actually said “wow,” when I saw that there were over 3.5 million user created levels available (from both LBP 1 and 2), and decided to try a few of the more popular ones. One of the more impressive of these levels was a recreation of the desert wasteland from Fallout: New Vegas. Along with a perfectly recreated Securitron, this level also offered fast travel via Pipboy and beautifully recreated scenery, and this is just one person’s level. Sure, the other 3.5 million levels might not be as impressive, but the tools are there and people are continually finding new ways to use them.
With everything LBP2 has going for it I did encounter a glitch where Sackboy got “stuck” in a floor; forcing me to restart the level. As annoying as this was, it only happened once during the story and I found that you can really speed through a level when it’s fresh in your memory. Additionally the load times for some of the levels did get rather lengthy (30+ seconds at times), but this could just be the norm for PS3 games.
If I could only say one thing about Little Big Planet 2 it would be that the game is just charming, and it’s because of that, and offering up an overall exceptional gaming experience, that the game earns a 5 star rating. I am sure we will see more from Media Molecule studios as they continue to establish themselves as a quality developer.