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LittleBigPlanet 2 PlayStation 3

Published by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developed by Media Molecule

Only a few years ago you could guarantee that January and most of February would be pretty much a dormant period for quality game releases following the obscene glut of titles that were released in the run up to the Christmas. Nowadays you aren't given such respite however and here we are in mid-January with one of the most eagerly awaited sequels of the year.

LittleBigPlanet 2 offers a solid single-player Story mode in addition to enjoyable multiplayer modes and some wonderful level creation tools that allow you to create custom levels above and beyond what you could have created with the tools available in LittleBigPlanet. In fact you can easily create levels from almost any genre you can think of from arcade style shooters to racing games.

Of course you're going to need plenty of material when it comes to creating your own custom levels, fortunately all of the stuff you've purchased for LittleBigPlanet is compatible and will carry over if you choose to import your profile from the original game, and this is where the single-player game comes in. You'll help an assortment of creators such as the wacky Larry Da Vinci, Victoria Von Bathysphere and the rest of the Alliance in an attempt to defeat the evil Negativitron. You'll play through a multitude of levels, there are groups of levels for each creator, and collect a wide variety of items in the process too which can all be used to customise the look of your Sackboy (or Sackgirl) and to give you a greater variety of options when it comes to designing your own levels.

LittleBigPlanet 2 isn't just a single-player affair, of course. When playing any level you're given the option of joining those who are already playing the level online or playing solo. The multiplayer experience isn't bad but in some ways it could be better. At times it can be a little confusing as characters that go off camera will disappear until the next checkpoint. To be fair the main issues are in the co-operative levels, in local multiplayer games, where keeping everyone within range of the camera can be a problem. I don't like the fact that there are co-operative only areas in some of the game's Story mode levels. If you don’t want to participate in the multiplayer experience, you're going to miss out on some of the game's content and that's very disappointing.

When you want to head online to see what custom levels are available you'll be pleased to know that the multitude of levels (of which the quality goes from excellent to horrid) have been organised to help you avoid the poorer ones, with a rating system in place too. The best levels appear to have been classified as 'Mm Picks' and some of these, such as the impressive 'Venice is Sinking' are really worth playing, if only to see what can be done with the new creation tools that are on offer in LittleBigPlanet 2.

This sequel offers such things as grapple hooks, level links, Sackbots (AI Sackpeople that can be used to add NPCs to your custom levels), microchips, Grabinators (which allow Sackboy to grab items and throw them) and power-ups. The Creatinator is a multipurpose helmet that allows your Sackboy to fire just about anything the level designer wishes, even custom objects. The Controlinator allows you to take direct control of any object in the game. The ability to give the user control over more than just Sackboy opens up a lot of possibilities for creating more unique experiences. In fact all of these new inclusions help to make LittleBigPlanet 2 more enjoyable and diverse. The possibilities are almost endless for creating levels that fit into almost any genre you could think of.

At its heart of course LittleBigPlanet 2 is very much a platform game. The core platform game elements feel the same here as they do in the original game and to some extent that's disappointing as the jumping and moving from one plane to another still feels as awkward here as it did in the first game. However, this slight disappointment does nothing to dampen the superb experience as a whole but you do wish the platform game elements had been more polished this time around.

Visually, LittleBigPlanet 2 isn't a great deal different from the first game. Certainly in terms of graphical quality the game couldn't really look any better and this is pretty much the case. Of course the included levels do look more adventurous and more impressive thanks to the extra interactions and things you can do in them. In a nutshell however LittleBigPlanet 2 looks great and is one of the most eye-catching games on the PlayStation 3.

LittleBigPlanet 2 is subtitled and the subtitles are enabled by default. You'll be fully aware of the dialogue in the game's cut scenes, a lot of which is exclusively text, and as a result you'll be able to follow the storyline in the Story mode. The game's tutorials are all subtitled so you'll be able to take advantage of them, which will certainly help in getting to grips with creating your own levels. The only thing I would add is that it's always possible that custom levels may have features that won't be deaf gamer friendly but out of the box, the experience is absolutely fine.

Ultimately, LittleBigPlanet 2 is just as enjoyable as LittleBigPlanet and if the original game held your attention at all then this is an essential purchase. As a platform game it could be better and had this simply been a single-player platform game with no custom content or creation tools it wouldn't have been anywhere near as impressive. However, what you're getting here is so much more than a platform game. LittleBigPlanet 2 is essentially a virtual box of LEGO that allows you to create whatever levels and game types that you wish. The new creation tools are really what make this sequel a better package than the original game. In fact the only limiting factor here is your imagination and even if you're not the creative type yourself, you'll be able to benefit from the creativity of others and have access to the multitude of content that others have created.

In our opinion this game is a: Benchmark
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