by Ryan Phillip Hardesty
previewed on PS3
Given the perceived infinity of LittleBigPlanet’s playability due to the game’s “Play, Create, Share” mechanics, one would think a sequel to be unnecessary. What could developer Media Molecule now offer that over 3 million user-created levels already haven’t? Considering the massive awards and accolades heaped upon the first game, as well as the (eventually) large sale numbers, the cynics might see an obvious reason. Then again, keeping in mind the people behind Media Molecule were the ones to churn out a game based entirely around the intricate idea of creativity, the rest of us can see an alternative to that. It seems those guys just had too many new tools, worlds, objects and options swimming around in their heads to contain it in one simple DLC package. Hence, LittleBigPlanet 2.
Well known to most fans by now is that the sequel will no longer be simply a platformer game but a “platform for games” according to Mark Healey, one of Media Molecule’s co-founders. With the insane number of genres already seen in some of the previews, that declaration is seemingly true. With fighting games, first-person shooters, racers, role-playing games and real-time strategies all being born via LBP2’s mechanics, the potential for the community’s output has been raised to a staggering level compared to the hopes for the original game. Even more ethereal games like flOw and Flower have been reproduced to astonishing precision.
Along with the emergence of new playing fields come new tools and options. Players can now string together their creations when they send them out to the world so that, in essence, you’re shipping out one game instead of one level. More obvious features like bounce pads, grappling hooks and power gloves will also come into play. The grander and more complex devices, however, are where one’s creativity will be truly put to the test.
Take the new camera system for instance. The production of in-game cut-scenes and even movies will now be a possibility given the diverse new switches and levers you’ll take command of. With the ability to change camera angles, movement, tilt, targeting, zoom, as well as a few other options, Media Molecule has given the players the chance to sculpt scenes into something more cinematic. Perhaps most surprising is the ability to record your own audio (the characters will even lip-sync your words), adding a new layer of individuality to one’s own levels and cinematics.
Hand-in-hand with the new custom audio will be the music sequencer. Using a 4/4 music scale and a large collection of instruments, you’ll be able to construct your own tunes, or even remix existing ones. The controls are similar to the Popit Menu so most players should have a good start on becoming a Playstation composer. Music ranging from Super Mario’s theme to some of Lady Gaga’s songs has already been created.
Given the massive amount of tools available, the music sequencer only seems like the inevitable step towards LBP2’s goal of giving the player 100% access. The sequel’s forthcoming licensed soundtrack won’t be enough. As Alex Evans, another of Media Molecule’s co-founders, put it, “20, 30 tracks is never going to cut it for the millions of levels that have now been published”.
The sequencer will also allow you to record voice work for your legion of AI characters, the sackbots. These little guys have replaced the first game’s enemy creation system and will have a host of new options to work with. At first they appear as smaller, robotic Sackboys, but you can then adjust whether they’re a friend, enemy or NPC, as well as their personality, skins, costumes, size, and movement controls such as area patrol, movement speed, and jumping abilities.