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Old 01-18-2011, 11:03 AM   #1
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[PS3] - LittleBigPlanet 2 Review

LittleBigPlanet 2 Review [PS3]

Developed by: Media Molecule
Published by: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
You pay: $59.99
Release Date: January 18, 2011Matt 'BalekFekete' Ford


It’s great to play with your Sack... no really!

There are games that are so good to begin with that we gamers actually fear a sequel. Players worry that the developer will alter something that doesn’t need improvement or tack on the latest fad and pull the franchise down in the process. I had that feeling when I heard Little Big Planet 2 (more commonly referred to as LBP2) was in production. The initial title was set up perfectly to be a single game supported by periodic updates and DLC and I couldn’t fathom what Media Molecule could do better. After playing the finished product I can now say - and my wife loves when I do - that I was wrong and my fears were without merit. Little Big Planet 2 maintains everything from the initial game that worked, fixed some of the minor nuisances that needed to be tweaked, and added in new features that could not be done via a patch. In short, LBP2 rocks!

Little Big Planet 2 is split into two main parts, the first being the Story mode. The story of LBP2 tells of the assault on Craftworld, the home of your Sackboy, by the menacing Negativitron. You are quickly recruited by Larry Da Vinci to join a pseudo-secret resistance group called The Alliance. Your mission is to...well, save the world. The Alliance, the inhabitants of Craftworld, and your fellow Sacks are counting on you! Fine, it certainly isn’t a plot that will win any major awards but that isn’t what the game is all about anyways, is it? When all is said and done LBP2 will succeed or fail based on the quality of the core game play and the individual levels.


Anyone who has played the original game will get a feeling of familiarity the instant the load screen appears. Little Big Planet 2 is very much of the same from the original - the way you move, to the manner by which you display emotions, to the never-gets-old ability to slap the everliving crap out of your friends. However, some of the nuisances from LBP are still present as well. You still feel very ‘floaty’ in your movement almost as if you were playing in reduced gravity. Load times are still on the lengthy side, especially for larger community levels. Finally, if you do not care to create your own levels, play through those posted online, or fall prey to the Pokemon ‘Gotta-get-them-all-prize-bubble’ mentality, then the story weighs in at a pretty paltry six or so hours in length.

One more significant complaint with LBP that Media Molecule managed to get a grip on in the sequel is the variety found in the Story missions. In the original I found myself appreciating the change in scenery from one section to the next, but eventually grew tired of the same platforming actions that were repeated throughout the game. This time around, the level designers may very well have been sequestered from each other; every section in LBP2 feels totally unique. From Da Vinci’s library to Victoria Von Bathysphere’s world of confections to an underground factory complete with it’s own hamster tube transit system, I never encountered the feeling of deja vu that came with the level design of the original LBP.

The new additions that LBP2 brings with it further strengthen the game and outweigh any of the previously mentioned lingering issues. The new grapple attachment is simply marvelous. In no time you will find yourself swinging across levels and, mark my words, the Spider-Man adaptations will follow shortly after the release...it’s as certain as death and taxes. In other areas you can don a pair of Grabinator gloves allowing you to pick up and throw pieces of the scenery (and even your co-op mates) around to your hearts content. Finally, the Creatinator will have you spitting out cupcakes or anything else the level designer can think off from a backpack unit that could have been pulled directly out of Dr. Venkman’s closet.


As with its predecessor, LBP2 features seamless drop-in, drop-out local and/or online cooperative play. Whereas most games become easier with the more friends you have at your side, LBP is typically the opposite. Coordinating the movement of several Sackboys across the more difficult levels can lead to controller-shattering frustration. Fortunately, the slapfest that frequently evolves is well worth the aggravation. If that wasn’t enough, with the Grapple and Grabinator you can now interact with your friends like never before in the cardboard world. The cooperative segments of certain levels is still present, forcing you to work with up to three of your friends to obtain every last collectible. All collectibles are graciously shared regardless of who picks them up (which any parent of bubble-hogging children will appreciate...I speak from firsthand experience).

One of the more significant additions in LBP2 comes in the form of new mini-games that are unlocked throughout the story mode. These munchkin-sized levels include DDR-esque button pressing challenges, cart races using a new top-down view, and more traditional treadmill survival challenges. The levels can be done solo, cooperatively, or competitively depending on the nature of the challenge. Some are simply for score, others have their own prize bubbles hidden throughout the level. These levels further accentuate the “just one more...” tendency inherent to playing LBP.

Without a doubt, the greatest strength of LBP2 is not the Story mode, but rather what the community will spawn using the updated Create mode. With 50 tutorials presented in an improved table of contents fashion, everything from how to manipulate simple objects to management of the system AI is described in detail. Straight up - it’s overwhelming. I spent several hours just watching and playing through the tutorials and still do not fully understand the power of many of the tools. True mastery will take days if not weeks of tinkering within your personal workshop. I only wish that Media Molecule offered up the Story levels in a ‘read only’ mode so I could get a visual on how they managed certain functions and thereby replicate it rather than trying to recreate the wheel. That said, and having seen others were able to create with the tools from the original game, it’s virtually guaranteed that the community will quickly be producing material rivaling or exceeding the quality of the levels that ship with the game.


There is a downside to giving such awesome power of creation to the masses - most don’t have the faintest clue on how to use it or have the imagination to make their attempts worthwhile. Little Big Planet community content are like Nicholas Cage movies, most of them suck. There are masterpieces from those with the necessary vision and expertise, however finding those levels in the sea of detritus is borderline impossible. But there is hope. Little Big Planet 2 introduces a new “Mm Picks” option that lets you play those levels which the developers have identified as the cream of the crop. The system to rate a custom level has changed as well moving to a ‘like or dislike’ option, similar to YouTube, making it immediately apparent how a level fares overall. We won’t know whether it is enough until the deluge of new content hits us in the upcoming weeks and months, but overall it is a step in the right direction.

Each of the modern consoles has a few exclusives that they rely heavily upon. The Little Big Planet franchise is one of those for Sony. It is unique, easily identifiable with the brand, and it caters to an unusually wide demographic of gamers. Sometimes I feel like I’m playing a kids game - particularly when I’m actually playing with my kids! - but that is some of LBP’s charm. It beckons us back to the time when we were young and had a near limitless imagination. The fact that it also allows us to take those childhood dreams and turn them into a reality is what makes the title so special. If you own a PS3, Little Big Planet 2 deserves a spot in your gaming library.


  • Retains all of the magic from the original, with new tools that make platforming even more enjoyable.
  • A vastly improved tutorial system for those with a creative gene.
  • Perfect drop in/drop out multiplayer action.
  • Most community content is not worth the agonizing time to load it, let alone play it.
  • Lack of precision controls make some platforming elements frustrating.
  • My bank account after the continual onslaught of $DLC.
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Old 01-18-2011, 11:21 AM   #2
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Every time I see that tree in the logo I think of "butt cheeks".
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Old 01-18-2011, 11:26 AM   #3
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Great review. I will definitely have to pick it up. I loved the first one and tinkered with the level creation tools, but I plan to create a complete level very soon in my backlog blog.
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Old 01-18-2011, 11:50 AM   #4
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Only problem with the review - you assume we've all played LBP1. I have no frame of reference for most of your comments.
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Old 01-18-2011, 11:52 AM   #5
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Some of the user created levels in the first one were really amazing artistically. The reason to get LBP2 is to play community based levels, even if that means you have to grind through poop to get it.

At least in the LBP2 demo, it seems like the jump force of Sackboy is coming from a different point on the body. maybe at foot level? Which seems better. I could be imagining the difference.

I think I'll wait a bit to get this one.

PS. The Marvel tables for Pinball FX2 XBLA are sooo worth it.
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Old 01-18-2011, 11:54 AM   #6
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I couldn't agree more with this review. It should also be added that with the release of the lbp.me website it's much easier to find great user created content and add it to your LBP2 queue to play later. It was always such a pain to try and find levels using the search function in LBP. Now you can look it up on the lbp.me website, click Add to My Queue (once you login with your PSN id and password) and next time you play you can access your queue and start playing.

The game is painfully short as modeps said. I'm nearly done with it after playing it off and on all weekend. But only painful because you want more. Thankfully the levels are so fun and brilliant in their design that I can't wait to replay them to find all the objects, even though I usually go through slowly on my first try to get most of them if I can.

I'm glad they varied the worlds though. You're right about how all the LBP levels felt similar, even if the locations changed. This one changes things up dramatically from world to world. Going from shooting cupcakes at enemies in one world to a 2D shooter in another. Great stuff.

Speaking of which, I wonder how long until someone makes an LBP recreation of Gradius.
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Old 01-18-2011, 11:56 AM   #7
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I'm just gonna go ahead and start keeping a running total of the Great Exclusives of 2011 starting now:

PS3: 1 (LBP2)
360: zippo

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Old 01-18-2011, 11:59 AM   #8
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Weird, there's no edit button on my post. I was going to add that I've been (probably annoyingly) singing LBP2's praises all weekend. I'm sure people are sick of hearing my ramblings and are grateful to be able to get their hands on it today. My apologies if I've been annoying. You'll see how wonderfully awesome it is and why I couldn't help myself.
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Old 01-18-2011, 12:02 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Abednigo View Post
The game is painfully short as modeps BalekFekete said.

Speaking of which, I wonder how long until someone makes an LBP recreation of Gradius.
Fixed for you.

And it won't be Gradius, but I'm planning on doing a recreation of Gauntlet if I can get a handle on the Create mode. It's just BEGGING for it, especially where you can now record voiceover as well to user levels. "SACKBOY SHOT THE FOOD!!!"
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Old 01-18-2011, 12:04 PM   #10
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Fixed for you.

And it won't be Gradius, but I'm planning on doing a recreation of Gauntlet if I can get a handle on the Create mode. It's just BEGGING for it, especially where you can now record voiceover as well to user levels. "SACKBOY SHOT THE FOOD!!!"
That would be awesome! We definitely need to share our creations here and post a link to our lbp.me page so people can find them. I need to find the time to watch the tutorials. I'm glad they have them listed in a table of contents now so you can rewatch specific ones if you need to. 47 tutorials is A LOT though.
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Old 01-18-2011, 01:11 PM   #11
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Fixed for you.
Doh! I just noticed that it was your review. Sorry about that.

Great review! I couldn't have done better myself.
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Old 01-18-2011, 03:43 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by BalekFekete
You still feel very ‘floaty’ in your movement almost as if you were playing in reduced gravity.

Lack of precision controls make some platforming elements frustrating.
That's actually enough to make me way until the price is heavily reduced. I found the movement of Sackboy in the first one to be absolute ass and found it hard to tolerate for a platformer.

Otherwise, well done on the review!
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Old 01-18-2011, 04:05 PM   #13
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Thanks for the review! It was perfect. Answered every question I was asking.
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Old 01-18-2011, 07:07 PM   #14
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Lack of precision controls make some platforming elements frustrating.
And because of this I can't take this series seriously. How can you make this Platform Game Generator utility with all of these amazing options, but you don't get any control over how the characters feel or control. What? What if I wanted to make a true SMB clone or even just a mere "hat tip" level.... What quality platformer can you think of had such floaty controls? The most popular one I can think of is one I hated just because of that, Earthworm Jim.

And sadly, because of this I have very little good to say about this game...I did really enjoy some of the user created levels in the first one, though. Some really inspired designs there.
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Old 01-19-2011, 11:17 AM   #15
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It looks like they really did improve on the first one, but it's sort of like Rock Band... the basic concept is still all the same, why did I have to buy a new disc?

Does anyone know if the user-created levels from LBP1 are still available to play in LBP2? I saw you could import all your costumes and stickers and such from the first. If I go back to the first one and earn some more of those that I missed, can I re-import with those items?

My only big gripe so far is the controls for using the grapple are finicky. If you retract or extend the line, it DRASTICALLY reduces your swing momentum, so you have to pretty precisely get the left-right motion on the analog stick with no up-down if you want to get the best swings for the hard-to-reach items. It works great for spidey-esque swinging through levels though.
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Old 01-19-2011, 11:21 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Mazzicc View Post
It looks like they really did improve on the first one, but it's sort of like Rock Band... the basic concept is still all the same, why did I have to buy a new disc?

Does anyone know if the user-created levels from LBP1 are still available to play in LBP2? I saw you could import all your costumes and stickers and such from the first. If I go back to the first one and earn some more of those that I missed, can I re-import with those items?

My only big gripe so far is the controls for using the grapple are finicky. If you retract or extend the line, it DRASTICALLY reduces your swing momentum, so you have to pretty precisely get the left-right motion on the analog stick with no up-down if you want to get the best swings for the hard-to-reach items. It works great for spidey-esque swinging through levels though.
All the user created content from LBP1 is available in LBP2. Use LBP.me to queue levels you want to play. It's much easier than using the in game search.

I'm assuming that if you get additional objects in LBP1 that the next time you start up LBP2 it will resync your content.

I agree with the grapple too. It can be incredibly finicky when trying to get a good swing to reach hard to get objects. I don't spend too much time trying to get those. If I don't get them after a few tries I keep going. I'll replay the levels again anyway so I can try again later.
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Old 01-19-2011, 12:13 PM   #17
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Quote:
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My only big gripe so far is the controls for using the grapple are finicky. If you retract or extend the line, it DRASTICALLY reduces your swing momentum, so you have to pretty precisely get the left-right motion on the analog stick with no up-down if you want to get the best swings for the hard-to-reach items. It works great for spidey-esque swinging through levels though.
Little advice for the grapple gun - it's all about momentum. To get to those hard-to-reach bubbles, grab on with the gun, but then release on the way up the other side. Free fall down, grab again, around, up, and release. Do that a few times and it will eventually act like a slingshot. It's tricky, but the left-right swinging will only get you so high...
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Old 01-19-2011, 08:28 PM   #18
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I'm not sure where else to post this so I'll post it here.

I finished the basic level I started in LBP1. I have so much more I want to do with it but it's a start. Please check it out and let me know what you think. I've named it Haunted House (for now) cause...well, that's what it reminds me of.

http://lbp.me/u/jjmahoney
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Old 01-20-2011, 06:37 AM   #19
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[QUOTE=Abednigo;1969264]I'm not sure where else to post this so I'll post it here.

I finished the basic level I started in LBP1. I have so much more I want to do with it but it's a start. Please check it out and let me know what you think. I've named it Haunted House (for now) cause...well, that's what it reminds me of.

Here's my level URL. You can add it to your LBP2 queue from there.

http://lbp.me/v/wqn41j

It's not very impressive. It's very easy and very short. It was the level I started in LBP1 a year ago but never finished. I had a few enemies, a little maze with some (what I thought was) cool lighting. Last night I added some point bubbles and dropped a scoreboard at the end and published it just to get it out there and see what people think. The annoying this is that LBP2 makes you watch a few tutorials before unlocking the popit menu in create mode. Not a huge deal but I wanted to jump in and finish the level but I had to watch 3 or 4 tutorials first.

I was surprised though how easy it was to get back in to. I quickly remembered how to move and rotate objects and all that. Now I have a ton of ideas swirling in my head of what I want to do to improve on the level I published.

So anyway, any LBP2 folks please check it out and heart me if you don't mind. I've had 4 players already. 2 gave me smileys, 2 gave me frowns. But don't expect to be blown away. I was going mainly for atmosphere. Content will be coming soon I hope.
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Old 01-20-2011, 08:55 AM   #20
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I'll give it a look tonight, I'm trying to finish off all the story levels so I can collect as many bubbles as I can on the first pass, then pick and choose as I go from there. I really want to make my own level, but I can't seem to come up with an idea I like enough to put the time into it.

Any other creators out there on EvAv?
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