E3 2010: LittleBigPlanet 2 makes sense to us now

More impressive were a couple of fan-created levels that completely broke from LBP’s traditional side-scrolling gameplay; one was a full-on RTS, in which a Sackboy-piloted bug-like tank spawned multiple smaller tanks, which could then be directed by a mouse cursor to attack enemies on an overhead board.

The mouse cursor and many of the level’s other effects were made of a new “holographic” substance, useful for creating things like HUDs and powerups, and – when the veil was pulled back on the level in Create mode – we saw what was actually going on. The overhead map was actually a huge vertical background wall, which the objects and enemies could stick to and move around. The cursor was attached to a circuit, which in turn was linked to the control seat, enabling players to move it around with the right stick.

Another impressive bit of trickery was a full-on 3D rail shooter, which featured a Sackboy riding a rocket through a neon starscape filled with holographic enemies. As it turned out, however, it was just a clever piece of 2D design; the “starscape” was a flat plane covered in angled rays that converged at a point in the center. A straight, horizontal line of light cascaded down these at regular intervals, giving the illusion of movement. The holographic enemies didn’t actually get nearer or farther – they just shrank. And while it might seem like seeing that might strip the level of its magic, it really just made the level-creation tools seem a lot more understandable – and a lot less overwhelming.

Those are some of the biggest changes LBP2 brings to the table, but they’re far from the only ones. The size cap on levels has been greatly increased, we’re told, and its “quota” system – which flagged a level as maxed out once it had hit a certain number of one kind of object – has been replaced with a system that simply lets you fill the available system memory with whatever you want. It’s also possible to do more within those limits, like creating animated backgrounds.

The system for browsing user-created levels is also being improved; it’ll be possible to view them as a list, for example, and the developer is launching a social-networking website – LBP.me – that can be used to quickly browse and share user-created content, from levels to circuits. Also, each level will generate a unique QR code – those weird, square barcodes that we’re seeing more and more frequently these days – which can then be printed out. Hold that up to a PlayStation Eye, and the game will immediately retrieve and load that level.

LittleBigPlanet 2 is a whole lot of cool ideas wrapped into one game, and judging by what we’ve played so far, it’s coming together extremely well. The game’s scheduled to arrive in November, and we’re eager to see what other kinds of things we can create when that happens.

Jun 17, 2010