Monday, February 14, 2011

Little Big Planet 2

Little Big Planet 2

I have always been a big fan of PS3 innovation.  When the first Little Big Planet came out, I was excited to praise the accomplishments of a game that could stand on its own 2 legs.  How wonderfully creative it was to have a DIY mini game creator.  Now Little Big Planet 2 promises tons of game variation and loads of extras, but I keep finding myself at the same hurdle: do I have the strength and the patience?

Welcome to Little Big Planet, the only world where everything is built on the imagination.  You play as the splendidly eccentric sack boy, walking the world and collecting power ups.  Your job is to save the planet from the monstrous imagination monster: Negatron.  This isn't much of a story and no one expects you to play it because the true meat of LBP2 is in the community editor.  When you start building your own levels, creating your own story and designing your own world you are truly living up to the magic of LBP2.

With the sequel comes the tried and true level editor and real world interface, but now you can add various elements to make your own levels.  You can make shooting levels, racing levels and mini game levels.  My favorite examples are the sniper Tron level where you have to use a scope to kill sack boys, the birds eye view car destroyer game, and the perfect replica of Out of this World.  There is so much you can edit, create and fix that obviously LBP2 is a true sequel in every respect.  But this is one of those rare times where the sheer overload of options and elements actually weighs the game down.  LBP2 has such a steep learning curve that there is no possible way to become a casual fan.  As a Little Big Planet veteran I just wanted to get right into the new stuff, but that entailed sitting through an hour's worth of tutorials.  Half the tutorials I did not perform right and I got flustered.  Even after the tutorials I felt like I needed someone to walk me through.  I kid you not when I say that playing this game involves 3 hour chunks.

Perhaps such a demanding learning curve would be appropriate if this was a game that let you create your own unique video games and movies, but I found myself thinking "So what?  This is just a bunch of puppet creatures in levels that look like they were taken from Clockwork Knight."  This left me with the dichotomy of loving the idea of so much customization, but hating the limitation of everything being so kiddish.  This is such a bold plan, having the ability to create any kind of game level, video or mini game.  You can't complain that LBP has no replay value.  In fact, I could spend endless hours playing the community levels and seeing everyone's labor.  I just wish that there was a simple editor for people who wanted to build easy levels.  Perhaps if there was a template we could write over or a special editing screen that walked you through the building process instead of making you go through all 90 editing videos.

I found the main story levels lackluster the second time around. You can only collect so many stickers and avoid so many traps before you start thinking, "Wow, this isn't very deep." This is in sharp contrast to the editing modes.  The addition of new gadgets for your sackboy to shoot projectiles and grab objects is cool, but I would rather prefer some Crash Bandicoot over Little Big Planet.

Graphics are sharp and colorful, combining real life objects with some of the best textures I have seen.  Music is a strange array of fun, quirky and eccentric soundtracks. 

I don't hate this game, quite the opposite actually.  I wanted so badly to be part of the excitement of all it has to offer, but feel totally shunned by its deeper than hell learning curve.  This game is not for anyone with a full time job or a social life.  The best times you can have with this game is playing the creative levels of those who have no life.  You have 1 million pre-made levels to get lost in.

Little Big Planet dabbles with the idea that you are God--creator of your own world. There's so much customization and planning that comes into creating your own world that it kind of makes you go in awe over how big God is.  He obviously got over the learning curve of Earth, creating it perfectly for our enjoyment.  I'm sure God would be awesome at playing Little Big Planet, but I am utterly impressed with his world creating powers.  It makes you think: if God is so awesome at building this world, what else can he do in my life?

Review Round Up
Graphics are beautiful
So much to do
Community Levels Rock

Steep and frustrating learning curve
So much to do
Boring Story levels


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