LittleBigPlanet is a well loved game around VGChartz. It won our first ever Game of the Year award in 2008 and we gave it a 9.2 in our review. So it should come as no surprise that we’re all excited for LittleBigPlanet 2.
I was lucky enough to sit down to a preview of the game with Alex Evans and James Spafford of Media Molecule. The first order of business was to show off the new control seat that is the star of the show. By attaching a few wires from the control seat to the motor on a simple vehicle they were able to make a car that goes back and forth with the left and right lean of the six-axis controls. When you open up the microchip of the control seat there are places to attach wires to every button on the six-axis and then wire them to anything in the level.
The preview then went through a number of vehicles using direct control, such as a helicopter rescue game where sackbots were programmed to grab onto the helicopter as you went by. The most impressive of these was a top down racing game where you could actually change the camera view on the racer by pressing triangle. It seemed you could cycle between three or so views just as you would in a retail racing game.
Direct control isn’t limited to just vehicles though, as you can also use it on a sackbot and then tweak his controls and jumping physics however you like. Finally, people can make a platforming level without the preset constraints of how sackboy is designed to move. You can even set the Sackbot to wear whatever clothes the player who enters the level was wearing so they will look exactly as they usually do for playing your level. Controlling a giant sackbot and multiple sackbots at once was also shown to be possible and controlling a giant sackbot changes the capabilities of the player to allow him/her to move previously immobile objects.
Alex then went into some of the levels made by their new level designers hired from LBP’s community, which included a psychedelic Star Fox type shooter which at first glance would seem to be using far more layers than is allowed for the game. When you go into edit mode, however, you see that the layers are faked by using multitudes of holographic material which has a visual quality but doesn’t take up space.
After that he showed a Rambo inspired top down 2D shooter that had a life bar made up of holographic material. Also notable was that I never saw sackboy while the level was starting up. So while Media Molecule has specifically said that all of their levels will still star sackboy, it seems that community levels have no such requirement.
They also talked a little bit about the new microchips that allow players to create complex logic for their levels and store them in an unobtrusive manner. These chips can also be shared and it seems like a great way to teach children about the basics of electronics and programming.
Afterwards we had a question and answer session and I asked Alex about the 50 layer bug from the first LittleBigPlanet and he assured me that they were doing their best to keep it around for the second game. I also asked him privately afterwards about whether the team had made an RPG level. He said that no one at Media Molecule had tried it, but theorized that you could make an experience bar out of holographic material and when that bar filled up it could change the attributes of the direct controlled hero of the level. This hints to the idea that you can either switch direct controlled vehicles during a level smoothly, without the player having to get out and change manually, or that there are switches that can change the attributes of sackbots or vehicles.
Later I got a chance to demo the game myself and got a few more insights into the new features of LittleBigPlanet 2. The level of most import was a competitive level in which you jumped around in low gravity while shooting rockets out of hats on your sackboy. This was made possible by emitter hats that can be programmed to emit any object when the player presses R1. During the preview Alex mentioned that these emitter hats can even be designed to emit water for a fire fighter type level.
You can also change the gravity and set up death match type competitive scoring, so players get points for killing other players in the level. The winner is decided by who has the most points after a certain amount of time and is displayed by a new competitive score board showing who killed who and how many times. Obviously this level would not have been possible on the previous LittleBigPlanet for a number of reasons.
I also got a chance to try a level with the new bounce pads and grappling hooks, both of which felt great. While I have gotten a lot of answers, this session also left me with one big question: when you are direct controlling a sackbot, can you pick up items? Could I not only make a level with a sackbot that controlled exactly as I always wanted sackboy to control but also pick up a jetpack, emitter hat, or grappling hook to make it even more interesting? Only time will tell, but regardless I can’t wait for this game to release later this year and see what all of you in the community come up with.
Below is a video of one of the levels I got to play: