CREATE, PLAY, SHARELittleBigPlanet 2 is one of those rare games which has the ability to make your jaw drop to the floor and beam like a Cheshire cat thanks to a host of insane concepts that you will never have seen before in any other videogame. The unique level design has, on more than one occasion, had me giggling like a naughty school girl and shaking my head in disbelief trying to comprehend how anyone could have thought of such brilliant ideas. There’s no doubt in my mind that LBP2 represents the pinnacle of modern day platform games. With its mind-boggling array of different levels and unique ideas, coupled with the stunning art-style and toe-tapping musical score, it’s a game that’s hard to put down.
There are no straightforward levels in LittleBigPlanet 2. Just like the developers have done, you’re consistently encouraged to think outside of the box to find creative ways to puzzle solve, and to search the 2.5d space for collectibles tucked away. And then, just when things begin to take a traditional platforming route, the gameplay is thrown on its head - becoming a shooter, an RPG, or a racing game - and then it’s back to platform-hopping and swinging across gaping chasms; at least for few moments anyway.
The gameplay is made all the more unique by the game worlds, which are beautiful to look at, with backdrops that so much depth, definition and colour that they practically leap out of the screen. The variety of themed levels, which range from Techno Renaissance and Steampunk, to Neon Propaganda and Designer Organic, means there's something unique to try out around every corner. And, not only do they test out your timing and reflex skills, like any traditional platformer would, but they test your puzzle solving skills to the max by throwing in some tricky scenarios, hiding collectibles in hard to reach places and often placing an area in each level that can only be solved with multiple players who work together. Due to the unpredictable nature of each level, there’s a real sense of excitement each time you embark on a new area.
The core game mechanics are also more complex than the first game. A variety of new gadgets, ranging from a grappling hook to a pair of power gloves, means that you have to do much more than just jump around collecting score bubbles. Instead, you have to read the environment, react quickly to developing situations and think before you leap anywhere. Once more, collecting items is a huge part of LBP2's gameplay. Collecting stickers and placing them across the various environments to brighten them up can be quite mundane, but it's an pursuit that should keep completionists happy for some time. For those seeking quicker thrills, there are plenty of item bubbles to collect that contain switch triggers, which when placed correctly can totally change a level and open up even more collectible opportunities and platforming fun. Part of the enjoyment I gained from LBP2, was scouring every nook and cranny of these environments in order to complete each level, thus earning 100% and the community kudos that comes with that.
And then, inevitably- just when you think you've achieved 100% completion - you'll find that you're a few items short, so you’ll replay the level again to search for them only to find that you can only unlock certain items if you jump into a co-op game, where up to four players can play through a level. Though I've struggled on occasions to connect to a random person’s game (connecting to someone expecting you is far less painful), when you do play co-op it's a lot of fun teaming up to puzzle solve and there’s more than a few laughs to be had out of other player’s mistakes, or when you try something together that goes totally wrong. Indeed, LBP2 is full of humourous moments that can make the most puzzling of sections entertaining rather than frustrating.