Preview & Contest: Get a Beta Code for “LittleBigPlanet 2″

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In his play “No Exit,” French existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre famously observed that “hell is other people.” Sony’s LittleBigPlanet games have proven the opposite, that heaven is other people. Or, to be more specific, the ingenious user-generated levels that other LBP creators have crafted.

I saw LBP2 yesterday and can attest that the creativity’s going to get stepped up several notches in upcoming sequel from dev studio Media Molecule. The tools the game gives you and what you can do with them have expanded exponentially. LBP2‘s a tough game to get a demo for, because so much of the game’s vitality comes after it comes out. That said, Media Molecule head honcho showed off several very cool-looking features. The first was an all-new grappling hook that Sackboy can use. It makes the guesswork on those tricky jump a lot easier and adds a new level of mobility to boot. The only person who had actual dialogue in LBP1 was actor Stephen Fry, who returns to narrate this game as well. But, now, players can record dialogue snippets using the microphone in the Playstation Eye camera. This function’s a neat way t add a little more personality to the levels that you create. Next, Evans showed me a created level where music cues synced up exactly with other elements in the level, so doors opened exactly when a passage played. You could listen to the music of this level and know exactly when a sliding door going to open. I also saw how the creation aspect of the game’s much faster, too. You can duplicate Sackbots–the AI characters who’ll follow you around–and then give the different looks in a few quick button presses. Evans said that the dev team wanted to move beyond the left-to-right platformer design model that the first game was built on. And now, LBP2 can be used to make may different types of genres, from top-down shooters to Peggle-style puzzle games. I asked Evans what the biggest complaint users had from LBP1 was and he replied that players found it too hard to find even their own levels once they went onto the servers. That’s why Media Molcule’s rolling out the LBP.me website, which hosts individualized social networks for LBP players where all their levels get aggregated. You can browse other players’ creations and then queue them up for play when you get back in front of your PS3. And, finally, as has been previously been mentioned, all the user-generated levels from LBP1 will work in LBP2.

So to celebrate all the upcoming awesome in LBP2, we’re giving away 10 codes for the beta. Lucky winners will get a sneak preview of the January-releasing game. Here’s how you win: just tell us your favorite user-created LittleBigPlanet level and why you love it so and you can win a LBP2 beta code. Contest closes at midnight tonight.

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