For a long time, video gamers have been going to the movies, so to speak. Now we have our own home video cameras. And it took a lot less time with games. Using as signposts "A Trip to the Moon" in 1902 and the release of the VHS format to replace traditional film in 1975, it 73 years passed between the first major narrative movie and a mechanism by which anyone could easily record moving pictures.
2011's "LittleBigPlanet 2" has closed the gap between producers and consumers in half the time it took movies -- 35 years, to be exact, if your starting point is "Pong's" release in 1976 as the first major game to enter consumers' homes.
"LittleBigPlanet 2," as a medium for games as much as a game itself, may be turn out to be less significant than the advent of VHS, which remained the dominant format until the DVD showed up in 1997. Still, it ushers in a new era of user-generated content in which a single game, with the right creation tools, can take its rightful place on the same level as consoles as a clearinghouse for ideas.
|» System: PS3|
|» Price: $59.99|
|» Rating: 5 out of 5 stars|
The first "LittleBigPlanet," released in 2008, was hailed not only for its fabric-based graphics and clever platforming levels, but tools that let you make your own levels and easily share them online. As platforming is the heart of video games, and ever will be, the wealth of homebrewed designs that appeared was far beyond what the developers could have hoped for.
"LittleBigPlanet 2," as its marketers incessantly remind us, isn't just a platform game, but a "platform for games." Grating slogans aside, this sequel has a vastly expanded toolbox so you can make not just platformers but racing games, shooting games, puzzle games, roleplaying games -- even real-time strategy games -- and can populate them with computer-controlled characters that act in according with your direction. Anyone who has played a well-done consumer-made game like "Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden" knows how special these experiences can be, and "LittleBigPlanet 2" makes it a lot easier to make a baby of your own. Basic things like chaining levels, so one automatically starts when another is completed, and the ability to "film" your own cinematic story sequences add greatly to the enjoyment.
If there's one complaint to be registered, it's the fact that the physics seem a little off. If platforming is indeed the heart of games, why does jumping still feel floaty, like you're controlling the Princess in "Super Mario Bros. 2"?
That inexplicable problem aside, "LittleBigPlanet 2" represents a new era, and is sure to brim with minor masterpieces. Usually it's annoying to play a game whose entire experience isn't contained on the disc. With "LittleBigPlanet 2," that's where the excitement begins.