Sunday, August 22, 2010

Preview / Little Big Planet 2

I beta tested the Create mode for the original LittleBigPlanet, building a giant monster truck that held up to 4 players simultaneously. The idea was that you'd all jump into this truck, then traverse a chaotic wasteland of cardboard blocks, eventually exiting the vehicle to move through an obstacle course of sorts, then reaching the end. Pretty simple stuff compared to the levels available now.

While the players ride in the truck, everyone has a sense of control. One could shoot cannon-balls from the front of the vehicle, while another would pull a lever to move the beastly machine forward (or reverse), another could raise or lower platforms so players could reach the ground and travel afoot, and lastly someone could control a rocket boost that would propel the truck over larger obstacles.

The few levels I created did not end up the way I had envisioned them, but boy were they fun to create. I think my niece got more value out of this game than I ever did. I certainly had fun collecting all those prize bubbles which included building pieces, fabrics, objects and my favorite, costumes. After collecting all this stuff however, LittleBigPlanet is still just a bare-bones side-scrolling action game. I rarely find myself wanting to jump back into it, unless I'm entertaining my two nieces. In which case we have a blast. They find so many more things amusing than I do, like building a barely-staying-together hot air balloon to float around in.

I hardly know where to begin to talk about LittleBigPlanet2. Media Molecule (The creators of everything LittleBigPlanet) have ambitions that I still have trouble believing will work out. The sequel promises players that they can create not just a platformer, but just about any genre of game you can think of. I have no idea how they will pull this off, but it is certainly intriguing isn't it?

Firstly, Media Molecule will be taking a serious stab at the social networking circle. LBP2 will allow everyone to have their own stream for activity. They'll be able to queue up levels to play via their PC, using Youtube and With you can create your own webpage which will showcase your selection of hearted levels as well as anything you've created.

Getting around as your favorite sackboy has never been easier with the added grapple-hook. You'll be able to attach it to different objects to sling-shot your way around levels. This grapple-hook can also be used to pull fellow sack-people off ledges and into fiery pits. I'm sure it'll be a very nice addition to an already stellar lineup of brand new features.

Sackbots, that's right, robotic sackpeople that you can use to create your own Non-Player-Characters. You can dress em up, program them to attack, or give out new quests or story sequences. I'm pretty excited to see what we can do with these guys, I have some interesting ideas to try out when I finally get my hands on the game.

Now for the Direct Control and Microchip features. Direct Control is probably the biggest new addition. This feature enables full use of the PS3 controller. Creators place a seat that you can stick on any object for a Sack-character to then climb into, this seat allows a creator to completely re-program the PS3 controller. Want the X button to move a vehicle forward? How about Square is your handbrake or shoot button? That's Direct Control. Microchips however, are tiny little circuit boards that you can expand. You can add sounds, switches, or whatever you want on these Microchips, therefore saving a lot of room in your level. All the wires and junk get stored away.

Also, recently unveiled was the sequencer system. At first, when I saw it in the Gamescom trailer, I thought it was only to create custom music. It appears you can also use this tool to add some sort of time delay to your levels. This sequencer can be used to time dialog, camera movements, and move entire sections of a level. It boggles my mind to think of the possibilities.

I'm probably forgetting some serious new additions, but this is what I can remember off the top of my head. I'm hoping to get into the beta for LBP2 but not sure how they'll be giving it away quite yet. It'll probably be some kind of contest or something to begin with. It would be nice if they gave previous beta testers the chance to get in on it, but who knows? LittleBigPlanet2 releases November 16th.