All of this new stuff might not be as easy to understand as LBP1’s pistons, winches, giant switches, monster brains and other machinery – which you can still use, incidentally – but it’s a hell of a lot more versatile, and given enough time with it, you may wonder how you ever put up with all that clunky nonsense in the first place.
Your robot friends
Logic circuits can also be applied to the Sackbots, another hugely significant addition. Essentially computer-controlled Sackpeople, the Sackbots can be used to add friends, enemies, or actors in cutscenes to a given level. They can follow you around, run from you, be instrumental in solving puzzles, back you up in a fight, or they can just stand around in the background for atmosphere. You can dictate their behavior and movement style, or just briefly take control to record a set of actions you want them to take.
You can also slyly slip the player into a control seat at the beginning of the level and have them control a Sackbot instead of their usual Sackperson, which is useful if you want to adjust their size, abilities (like their jumping, say) or just their appearance.
Add in the ability to direct and record your own in-game cutscenes, compose your own music, record voice samples and create custom sequences of levels for players to run through, and Create mode adds up to a bunch of very simple tools that can be used to create more or less whatever you want. Or, at least, to create a much broader variety of things than were possible in the first game.
The only problem is that a lot of the new stuff can be difficult to grasp at first, and while there are a lot of tutorials to show you how (enough that they’d be overbearing if they weren’t optional), there are a few things they completely ignore. For example, it’s possible to create animation with the holographic material, but the game never explicitly tells you how; it’s left for you to puzzle out on your own through trial and error (or by copying some other generous creator’s levels to see how they accomplished it).
There is one thing LBP2 won’t allow you to do, however, and that’s use Move. While it’s possible support will be added in down the line (which might be a nice addition to the Create mode), for now the game simply doesn’t offer a way to use Sony’s motion controls. The LBP2 disc does, however, include the Move-enabled Sackboy’s Prehistoric Moves, which will save you about six bucks if you haven’t already downloaded it from PSN.
Is it better than…?
LittleBigPlanet? Yes. LBP was and still is a great game, but LBP2 blows it away in every conceivable sense. The story’s better, the level-creation tools are far more versatile and the door’s been opened for players to create entirely new game types, instead of just new levels. It’s not quite as easy to immediately grasp, but the payoff for mastering it is infinitely greater.
ModNation Racers? Yes. ModNation’s racing might be a lot better than the top-down and side-scrolling varieties offered by LBP2, but comparatively it’s a one-trick pony. Being able to build your own tracks is fun, but being able to create different game types – or to just play those built by others – has more lasting appeal in the end.
Create? Yes. Their gameplay may be fundamentally different – LBP’s creation tools are to build levels, while Create’s are mainly there to solve them – but LBP2' has it all over this bland entry in the “create, play, share” genre. Even without the draw of its creation tools, LBP2 is livelier, prettier and a lot more fun – and with them, its controls are a whole hell of a lot less clunky.
Just for you, Metacritic!
Adding so much as to be a little intimidating at first, LBP2 brings a slew of impressive new creator features, while still offering plenty of cool new things for those who just want to play. The basic, flawed platforming of the original is still there, but compared to the possibilities LBP2 opens up, it’s insignificant.
Jan 7, 2011