sackboy beta

So guess who’s back and BETA than ever (I apologise for the weak joke, even by my standards). I was fortunate enough to get access to the eagerly anticipated BETA program for Little Big Planet 2. By now you’ll be aware that the full release of the game has been delayed until Jan 2011, just a few months extra to wait and judging on what I’ve already seen, it’ll be well worth the wait.

Now one of my biggest gripes with most sequels and/or franchise games is all the time, effort and money invested in the predecessor is generally lost with the new title, this isn’t the case here. Stickers, costumes and objects from the original Little Big Planet are accessible from your Popit. The games starts as expected inside your uniquely familiar Pod. With seemingly identical controls and options as in the first title. Story mode, Community mode, Create mode. By this stage I’m getting the impression this is just a simple upgrade to the existing game. Fortunately I’m WAY wrong.

Story mode consists of a few levels and challenges. I must point out that the control physics feel remarkably improved. The switching between planes and jumping controls which felt clumsy to me in the original seemed to work flawlessly.  During the few levels you get a good glimpse at the new features. A grappling hook which you use to swing through and around the levels, the new Sackbots which were used in a ‘Lemming’ type fashion through the level and the ability to rotate gravity. Also there were the ‘arcade’ type games that were built into a level which really caught my attention. Who can say no to a quick game of ‘Pong’?

As impressive (although very short) as the ‘Story’ mode was it’s what the ‘Community’ are doing with the new tools that is really amazing. Users are creating ‘levels’ (I’m hesitant to call them levels, more like fully cloned games) of familiar games like Geometry Wars, Pac Man, Micro Machine Racers and Flow. All this just a few weeks into the (limited access) BETA, it’s hard to imagine what people will be making once the full title is released.

Now I was no mastermind when it came to creating levels in the original game. But it’s easy to see that with the improved tools, music creation software, controller button mapping, options and controls, creating ‘levels’ will be limited to your imagination. Even I managed to build a simple top down racer with descent controls. A vast improvement over my old, ‘pull lever, car go forward’ creations.

Personally with what I’ve seen the community create here, it’s enough to make Little Big Planet 2 into one of the must have titles for 2011.

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