As in the first game, the series' trademark Stephen Fry-narrated tutorials are key to learning how to build compelling content. However, rather than force people to work through these sessions-which have been redesigned to make them easier to understand and help players make connections between lessons-this time around they're all optional. But I'm pretty sure this old gamer will still need them. The tutorials may have been revamped, but it looks like the range of design of possibilities has grown substantially.
For example, the new game lets players edit existing music tracks and sound effects and even make their own. The module provided for these activities seemed dauntingly deep to me. In fact, it's so potent that LittleBigPlanet 2's composer used it to create the game's beautiful, intricate score. "He just sat down in front of a monitor with a PlayStation controller and began making music," said Mr. Evans. "That's how powerful our in-game sequencer is."
Then there's the new community. More than three million user-created levels were generated for the original LittleBigPlanet, and those who play the second game will have access to all of these levels as well as the paid downloadable content they purchased for the first game.
However, they'll be able to find things much more easily. As people play they work toward earning some 500 "pins" awarded for accomplishing tasks. You can affix up to three of these pins to your profile to represent who you are, so people will know that you have, say, finished the entire game, created a certain number of shared levels, and have had more than a hundred people download and play one of your creations. These pins will help people browsing content to know what to expect of the creators they encounter.
You can also look for content based on user opinion. Avid players can become trusted influencers; people the community looks to to discover the best new player-made content. "People will be able to find creators with the best taste, or taste that matches theirs," said Mr. Evans. "They'll be able to find new gateways to the kind of content they like."
LittleBigPlanet fans need wait only until January 18th to begin finding new player-made experiences.
The last of the games I spent time with was Killzone 3. I'd played through a level in an event in Toronto earlier this year, but attendees of the New York event were privy to a brand new level; the second last in the game. It boasts a boss fight in which players take on a hulking armoured platform called a "mawler," the design of which was inspired by a flea-though I've never seen a flea that was 20 storeys tall.
My host-Herman Hulst, Guerrilla Games' Managing Director-spent several minutes working through this multi-staged battle, dying several times in the process (all the while saying he "might be making it look too easy because I know what to do"). The buildings in which he took cover were blasted to bits, forcing him to run through the open and avoid power generators that were abuzz with blue electricity. And just when it looked like he had won, the platform rose once more, straddling his position and looming menacingly above as he fought scores of enemy Helghast in covered positions below. It was intense.
In addition to the new level, Mr. Hulst demonstrated a previously unannounced peripheral: The Sharp Shooter. It's a life-size submachine gun with an extending stock (it was modelled after the StA-11 seen in the game). PlayStation Move and Navigation controllers are inserted into slots in its front end. Players simply point the barrel to move the camera and use the control stick on the Navigation controller to govern movement.
It's more complex and features a more robust control scheme than what I've seen in other gun peripherals. Players not only have access to all of the buttons on the Move and Navigation controllers, but also a trigger, a secondary trigger, and action buttons located on the gun itself.
I found it very difficult to get a handle on things to start-I was swiping too far left and right, and the camera kept spinning out of control whenever I tilted the rifle and looked down to see where the buttons that I wanted to press were located. However, once I had a feel for the layout and camera scrolling speed I began to meet with more success.
It's worth adding that the gun controls are completely customizable. You can select the amount of target locking assistance you'd like and alter button assignments. I only spent about 20 minutes playing, which makes it difficult to pass judgement on both the gun and Guerrilla Games' implementation of Move control. However, the hardware felt comfortable in my hands. I'm looking forward to giving it a much more thorough test when Killzone 3 is released at the end of February.