Gamescom 2010: LittleBigPlanet 2 Hands-On PreviewBy Jake Gaskill - Posted Aug 20, 2010
What We Know:
Media Moelcule’s follow up to their critically acclaimed smash hit LittleBigPlanet represents a frighteningly expansive jump forward for the platforming/creation franchise. New toys, new creation tools, an epic and quirky new story, and plenty of new ways for friends to enjoy the mad and magical world of LBP are all present and accounted for in LittleBigPlanet 2.
What We’re Seeing Now:
For Gamescom 2010, I had a chance to get some brief hands-on time with the exponentially expanded sequel, and get a guided tour by the game’s technical director, and all around awesome chap, Alex Evans. To kick things off, I tested out the game’s new grappling hook mechanic that lets Sackboy attach onto any soft surface and swing to his heart’s content. You can shorted or lengthen the rope if needed, and since Sackboy himself is a “soft material,” players can use the grappling hook to grab each other in co-op with hilarious results.
It wouldn’t be LBP without some wacky gadgetry, and one of the new gadgets I was able to test out was the Cakeinator that is basically a miner’s helmet that can fire any object or material from the lamp affixed to the top of the helmet. For the portion of game on display, the helmet shot out globs of frosting, which were used to destroy evil cakes (obviously), but also to build walkways and even clog gears to allow passage to a higher platform.
Playing with expectations is something that Media Molecule does absurdly well, and nowhere is this more apparent in LBP2 than in the game’s new sequencer system. Originally built to give players the freedom to create their own custom music, the developers quickly realized that the sequencer could be used to build anything they wanted, including entire levels. And this is exactly what they did, even though it meant rebuilding entire sections of the game using the sequencer just a few months before the game is set to release. So not only can you time events, camera moves, dialogue, and music, but you can also cue entire sections of levels to appear or disappear according to your precise timing.
This means that players now have absolute control of every aspect of their levels, and makes it easy to understand how players will be able to create entirely new games with the LBP2 tools. In fact, the team at Media Molecule built the entirety of LBP2 on PlayStation 3’s using the same tools available to players in the game. The first game was made using a combination of PC and PS3, because the tech wasn’t in place to allow for full console-based development. This time around, as Alex Evans put it, “There was no cheating.”
One area where Media Molecule was forced to cheat just a bit was with the PlayStation Move controls. Originally, the game going to ship with Move support, but that’s no longer the case. Instead, the game will include several Move-based demo levels to hold players over until a patch or update can be released to add proper motion controls.
To truly appreciate everything that Media Molecule has done to improve upon the LBP formula, you really need to see LBP2 for yourself. I only had a brief time with it, but it was a whimsical and, “Um, that’s kind of amazing”-packed few minutes. LBP fans should start planning out their dream game now in preparation for the game’s release in November.