LittleBigPlanet 2 Beta Hands-On Impression

This week I had the opportunity to play a beta of one of the most anticipated games of 2011—Media Molecule’s Little BigPlanet 2, which is set for release on January 18th. After playing through several levels from the story mode, I can say that LBP 2 certainly deserves the hype it has garnered.

In LBP 2, players return as Sackboy to save Little BigPlanet from certain destruction. A giant vacuum cleaner appears in the sky above the planet, threatening to suck up its inhabitants. Sackboy himself is almost annihilated by The Sucker, but is saved by Larry Da Vinci, the leader of an alliance against the diabolical machine. Sackboy must join Da Vinci’s alliance and help save the cosmos from The Sucker, before it’s too late.

For the most part, the core gameplay in LBP 2 seemed unchanged from the first game, which is a good thing because Media Molecule really did a good job with it. The controls are simple, with just a few buttons to make Sackboy jump, pull levers, and traverse levels. LBP 2 does bring some exciting new gadgets to the table, two of which I got to experience in the beta—the grappling hook and the Sackbot. The grappling hook allows Sackboy to swing around levels and grapple onto objects, enemies, and other players. Sackbots are automatons of sorts, as they can be programmed to do whatever the level designer chooses. For example, I played a factory level where the objective was to free Sackbots from their cages and help them escape. Upon release, the Sackbots’ eyes grew big and heart-shaped, and they began to follow Sackboy around.

There are also several environmental gadgets, such as bounce-pads that launch Sackboy into the air. In one level, Sackboy has to reach the top of Larry Da Vinci’s tower before the timer runs out, which can only be accomplished by grappling hooking into bounce-pads placed on the walls and swinging in a big arc up to a higher platform.

Since LBP is such a community oriented game, it was nice to play through some new levels geared towards online multiplayer. One such level involved four players competing in a reflex testing game, in which players have to press the button that corresponds with a particular symbol on the screen. Each correct combination earns players points, while pressing the wrong button causes them to suffer a short delay, giving competitors the chance to take the lead.

Little BigPlanet 2 will be available on January 18th 2011. Players who preorder the game will receive exclusive downloadable costumes. Fans of the series may want to consider pre-ordering the limited collector’s edition, which comes with a 7” Sackboy plush, LBP 2 bookends, 11 downloadable costumes, and 5 LBP 2 PSN avatars.