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The Sackboys are back in town

You’d be forgiven for thinking, with E3 just around the corner, that the only big announcements coming out of May would be regarding the UK’s shambles of a political system. However, just outside the M25, deep in the heartland of Guildford, a crack team of video game developers have been busier than a colony of Canadian Beavers as they unveil their latest creation to the world.

LittleBigPlanet caught the imagination of gamers worldwide and to this day over 2million levels have been created using Sackboy and his plethora of tools. The original, as imaginative as it was, still bore the trademarks of any title that, some may argue as one of the first of its kind. Niggling tendencies aside there was always going to be the big question revolving around a sequel; could it be done from a technological stand point? Did they even want to do it? And did we [as gamers] want it?

The answer to those three questions has to be a resounding nod of agreement, and now it’s official – LittleBigPlanet 2 will be heading to Playstation 3 this winter.

First thing anyone familiar with LittleBigPlanet will notice is that the game comes boasting a completely revamped graphics engine, and you only have to take a glance at the early screenshots to see how good it’s looking. The levels are awash with colour as lighting and shadows render perfectly upon any characters and obstacles that they hit, simply put – it looks stunning.

We’re not talking stunning in a God of War 3 type of way, but stunning where it proves that you don’t need tens of thousands of polygons with highly detailed textures to create a vibrant and rich world to explore, a world where you can play, create and share. It’s as if you’ve just mixed a Haribo sweet factory and your favourite childhood cartoons into a bowl and dived straight in, the result is truly superb. Graphical prowess was never at the forefront of LittleBigPlanet, that came in its ability to put [the player] in control, and the sequel looks set to put a whole new level of control into the hands of the players.

Stunning graphics certainly make for abstract realism at its very best, with a colourful excitement akin to seeing Monsters Inc in HD for the first time. Always watching.

The term “Creative Gaming” is bandied about a lot, usually by people who sit writing press releases all day, but in a nutshell, it’s exactly what LittleBigPlanet is, but more importantly it’s what its sequel aims to not only improve on but take in a direction that nobody ever expected. The mechanics remain the same; you can create levels and then you can share them with the world but this time the game in the box really is just the start of something really spectacular, where the only limit is going to be your imagination – which is actually quite a scary thought knowing a lot of you!

Creating levels is just the start; this time around you’ll be given the ability to create whole new games. Fancy a bit of Sackboy in the style of Mario Kart? – Go ahead, make it. Shooters and even platform games are all waiting to be created, the world really is your oyster, and you can even make cookery simulators if you wanted apparently, the only limit really is your imagination. You’re given a toolset and a blank canvas and away you go, free to create your next masterpiece as part of the Sack-Revolution.

Sackbots, the new lovable character you can create will be what you use to populate your level and they’ll be fully under your command, dress them how you want, and even bring them to life with what Media Molecule are calling “Digital Puppetry”. Be them friend or foe, the Sackbots live to serve and under your command they’ll be anything you want them to be. If we don’t see a LittleBigPlanet style Optimus Prime by Christmas morning then the gaming world will have let me down, it just has to happen and, you know what, it probably will.

One of the most interesting prospects for myself is that of the cinematic possibilities, with the ability to now throw in a couple of cameras and after some tinkering about you’ll then have a cinematic cut scene for your brand new creation. James Cameron can make Avatar a box office smash, but can he choreograph a troop of Sackbots to dance out to the theme tune of M.A.S.H? I’m guessing probably not – but you’ll be able to.

A whole new dimension of Machinima will be born and at its core will be Sackboy with affectionate smile firmly planted across his face.

The ‘Share’ side of things was always going to play a pivotal role in how the game (can you even call this a game anymore?) functioned and, with over two million levels to sift through, you’d be forgiven if it all got a bit much. Thankfully though the share system is getting a bit of a facelift, making it easier for you to discover exactly what you’re looking for, be it a level filled with pistons and pipes, or a giant fart machine, you want it, you’ll be able to find it. It will also have a bit of a Twitter vibe going on, as “Activity Streams” will keep you up to date on your friends and keep that big brother style gaze firmly over their activity, who knows what hidden gem they’ll stumble upon.

Even so, with over two million levels already in the bank and no doubt countless more between now and the launch of LittleBigPlanet 2 the share side of things was always going to be prove tricky, almost a victim of its own success if you will.

So, some bright sparks at Media Molecule have come up with the new web portal, giving each and every creation its own little space on the internet, which in the grand scale of things is a lot of space. More so, the web portal will grant you the ability to promote your own levels regardless of your online locale, through a link in your favourite forums signature perhaps, add it to Twitter, Facebook even your emails, your ability to showcase your creations will never have been easier.

LittleBigPlanet 2 poses the question: can it be called a game? Sure there is a pretty big element of playing involved, be it the main storyline or user created content but it’s surely more than that. It’s a toolset that was built for day dreamers, for those people who sit there doodling away on scrap bits of paper or beer mats, it’s a game and creation kit rolled into one glorious packaged and polished off with the humour and quirkiness that symbolizes Media Molecule.

It’s out this winter for the Playstation 3, as all eyes now turn to E3 where hopefully we’ll be seeing a lot more of Sackboy.

Last five articles by Ben



  1. Mark R MarkuzR says:

    I know this may sound utterly mental to you, but I still know nothing about Little Big Planet other than the fact that there is a lot of customisation available to the player. I read an article from Mark Brown where he’d created a “level” for his mum’s christmas which had a christmas tree, personalised presents for all of his family etc and, while I thought to myself “that’s cool as hell”, I still wasn’t sure what it actually was.

    Short of actually going out and buying the game, then dusting off the PS3, and actually playing it… I’m not sure I’ll ever know what it is. Even from reading this article today, I’m left thinking that you couldn’t really pinpoint a specific genre for Little Big Planet… it seems to be a playable construction kit, but what dictates whether or not you’ve completed a level?

    As someone who adores world building, whether it’s in The Sims, Command and Conquer or even Trials HD, I should be all over this game. Graphically, I love it. Knowing me, however, I’ll get around to trying it out in a few years time… after everyone’s forgotten about it and moved on to playing Elder Scrolls XIII, so I’ll be the only one left tinkering.

  2. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Lee Williams and Knikitta, GamingLives. GamingLives said: Ben takes a look at Little Big Planet 2 in his excellent preview http://31tv.sl.pt – Lorna [...]

  3. Adam Adam says:

    Ok think Super Mario Brothers, thats the kind of platformer that the game is, on it’s most basic level. Then apply a modern physics engine to it. Now allow other players to create levels for it. Now take into account that not only can they create levels, they can design everything it is that goes into the level construction process and manipulate basic shapes and the sizes of them to form complext objects.

    Now ignore everything you know about generated content games. There are fewer restrictions on LPB and you can litterally use the game engine to do practically anything with it. I saw one guy on youtube that constructed a working calculator, using thousands of strings and cogs to engineer a basic on screen computer. Pointless, yes. But that he could do it shows the capabilities of the game.

    It’s got such a unique commnity to it that is unknown on the Xbox and I’m jealous of PS3 for having it. Reading through all of this only makes me that little bit more jealous and keen to make friends with someone that has a PS3. I can’t create a damned thing but I sure as hell would enjoy sitting and playing it :D

  4. Ste says:

    I’ve got LBP but unfortunately I’ve not had the time to commit to it at the moment. I’ve played a few of the story levels but not had a chance to dive into the creative side of it. It’s abit too cutesy for my liking I think but I will definately give it a bash at some point. My 8 year old cousin is obsessed by it, not sure if that’s a good thing or not.

  5. Samuel The Preacher says:

    I’ve not played the first game beyond a retail demo in Toys R Us, because of my PS3 boycott, and I imagine that will mean the same happening to the sequel. Also, whilst I enjoy construction, design, and management based games (I was an engineer, after all), I think a better comparison would be to suggest that Little Big Planet looks more like Spore, only you can create not just the creatures but everything else that surrounds them as well. And I didn’t really like Spore either.

    The inclusion of sackbots brings to mind another Will Wright game too; The Sims. Little people in your designed world that you can dress up and have do your bidding sounds very much like The Sims to me. And I didn’t much like The Sims beyond the house building in the first game. Once the house was built, it all got very tedious. I imagine the same would hold true here, I’d build the levels for a few weeks, not really care about the creatures populating it, and move on to something else.

    I’d ultimately much rather spend my time either doing something genuinely creative and artistic, or playing a proper game.

  6. Lorna Lorna says:

    Really enjoyable article Ben. Some interesting points here about whether it can actually be classified as a game anymore…seems to have fallen into the genre of ‘user friendly game construction kit’ but without mind boggling coding or anything that would put off only the most dedicated code jockeys.

    I personally enjoy games with an element of creativity and would not dismiss a ‘game’ like this one out of hand, even though I seldom have the inclination to tinker about anymore. The closest I came to level editing was Dungeon Keeper for a while. I enjoy Sims 2 (and will 3 when there is eventually enough to do), but have never troubled myself with sampling LBP, mainly because I know that there are a lot of things that, sadly, I’d rather put more effort into.

    The sharing thing will be interesting though if this explosion in openess of design holds true, along with the camera and machinima possibilities…and that is infringement of copyright. ‘The Movies’ caused a few shitstorms years back as people recreated films and incurred the wrath of outraged studios. I can see similar things happening here and wonder if Sony have braced themselves…

  7. [...] that the game is heading for a November release.  With the ability to create anything, as previewed by GL writer Ben, gamers better start saving their pennies for a rapidly filling Autumn/Winter lineup. Last [...]

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