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Monday, 10 May 2010

Preview- LittleBigPlanet 2

Released: Winter 2010
Format: PS3
Developer: Media Molecule
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

With over 2 million user-generated levels created and shared by the community, there is little doubt that Media Molecule's LittleBigPlanet was a triumphant, unreserved success. Spawning a new mascot for the Playstation brand and, with it, a new genre of games- that of 'Play, Create, Share' (with ModNation Racers looking to expand the brand this May).

Many harshly criticised its “floaty” platform mechanics which were frustrating and confusing at times but genius at others. The level of creativity that thrived through the veins of the community flourished through the game, with some absolutely fantastic examples of game design that, at first glance at the simple 'Popit' tool, seemed near possible to create. I was a massive fan of the first game- it was the reason I bought a PS3! Now, with the announcement of LittleBigPlanet 2, it's time to look ahead to what may be possible with the new generation of Sackboy. Here's a quick glimpse of what is in store for LBP2...

Great things have been detailed about the game so far, due out Winter 2010. First off, the create tool is now bigger and much, much improved. No longer limited to simple platform 'levels'- the second game allows creation of what the official website boasts as “full games”. This time, the creation tool will give the ability to create the usual platforming styled game, along with racers and even shooters! And if all this sounds too good to be true, take a look at the official announcement trailer here for game play footage. 'Sackbots' are perhaps one of the most important additions to the sequel- AI characters that replace the simplistic enemy bots from the original. Here, anything from size, shape, style, costume and behaviour can all be adjusted to suit your level design by either recording a custom behaviour style or choosing one of the existing available. The 'Direct Control Seat' is another new addition to the create tool- which by placing in your level, brings up a controller shaped circuit board and thus, making it possible to attach parts of the controller to items within the world, such as switches. This will allow custom controls to be mapped onto objects (such as R2 for 'accelerate' on a created car, for example). And now for my favourite tool- the ever reliable 'microchip'. Remember the calculator level from the first game? All those pistons working in sync? Well imagine that condensed into a tiny chip and placed anywhere into a level. Yes, LBP2's 'microchip' makes the design of complex systems be condensed onto the tiny surface area of a chip. This makes it possible for incredibly complex set-ups to be integrated easily within levels. And if all this wasn't enough, full cut-scenes can now be made for use within levels. With camera angles, panning, zooming, fades etc. all available for any budding movie-maker to create a masterpiece of their own.

The new title will also have an overhauled graphics engine for that little bit extra sheen to what is already a beautiful game, a full adventure/story mode which should prove from the outset what is possible with the tools at your disposable and an overhauled search function which also acts as a portal to seeing what your favourite creators and mates are up to. Sackboy is also free to explore new boundaries with the announcement of several power-up tools, such as the grappling hook- no doubt adding a new found depth to the roots of the game.

The game will not feature 'Move' support upon initial release of the game, although Media Molecule have stated that this will be integrated further down the line with DLC additions. Keyboard and mouse support has been granted however, which means level creation will now be even easier to get to grips with. Expect much more coverage of the game in the Sony press conference at E3, this June 15-17. Have a look at my E3 preview for more predictions of the event.

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