By Joshua OstroffIf you build it, they will come. That was the basic premise behind the original LittleBigPlanet, a side-scrolling platformer, complete with Sackboy mascot, which turned out to be less of a game than a toolset with a social network. Though it shipped with clever levels created by British studio Media Molecule, LBP's bold experiment in DIY gaming was really about creating and sharing your creations.
Soon enough, several million levels ― it hit 3.5 million in February ― were being built and passed around by the community, which would seem to make a sequel irrelevant, or at least unnecessary, especially since any new features couldn't impact the game's backwards compatibility with original recipe levels. So, no, owners of the original don't need to upgrade, but at the same time, this new edition is no Madden-style rehash.
Much as the latest Rock Band added a level of realism that emulated actual instruments for those willing to accept the challenge of increased complexity, so too does LittleBigPlanet 2 up the ante for at-home game creation while still being intuitive, if time-consuming. Where once budding designers were restricted to building Super Mario-esque side-scrollers, the enhanced development tools now allow gamers to craft racing, role-playing, shooter, sports and puzzle games. You can even program non-playable A.I. "sackbots," animate cut-scenes and in the case of one memorably titled level, Kill Justin Bieber.
Of course, these are still pretty rudimentary when compared to what a proper dev kit in the hands of a professional can produce, but their homemade simplicity fits perfectly with LBP's adorable arts & crafts aesthetic.
The commercials cleverly mock people who claim to have "finished" a game rooted in crowd-sourced content. But this also makes it hard to review, since the packed-in levels are mostly there to provide inspiration and the best community creations are yet to come. Let's just say that as a game, it's fine, but as a game 2.0, it's fantastic. (Media Molecule/Sony)