Little Big Planet was great. In fact, it was such a great concept there wasn't any need for a sequel. You can build anything you want, and the game has grown exponentially since it was released. How do you make a sequel to a game like that?
The answer to that question is as simple as it is brilliant. By removing one limitation, the platform foundation and the need to use our friend the Sackboy, the concept opens up to much wider applications. If you want to build a real shoot'em up you will be able to do so, without any of the limiting factors from the original.
Media Molecule loved the creativity shown by players from all corners of the globe, and they were impressed to see how their tools were used to create things they never imagined (the wonderful Gradius clone comes to mind). There were plenty of retro concepts and games in other genres than platforming, but this is the reason for the changes made in the sequel.
It will now be possible to create fully realised racing, puzzle, action, role playing or even fighting games if you wish to do so. An example that applies to the latter is that you can customise the heads up display to include a timer and health bars. All that remains is to design a colourful bunch of fighters and bring the pain. Media Molecule themselves created a fully functional Command & Conquer clone with the tools just to show off how flexible their game is.
One of the biggest changes that will truly allow us to experience all of the creativity players around the world possess is something Media Molecule call "direct control seats". This enables the player choose for themselves how the controls for what you create should be like, regardless if your game is about racing with a car or running with Sackboy.
An example of this is the many Super Mario tributes that were created in Little Big Planet, but these were often difficult to play as the button layout was different and Sackboy didn't move anything like Mario. This time around you will be able to tailor the controls to the experience you want to create. This does not only include the buttons on the controller, but also the tilt functionality of the controller.
And if you want to create a great sense of driving, it is a good idea to equip you cars with a roaring engine. In Little Big Planet 2 you are no longer limited to the sounds that Media Molecule supply you with, but you are free to create your own. Whether you chose a to record a fart or a Mustang for your cars is up to you, but I think we can expect quite a few fart sounds.
Another nice touch is that you will be able to record descriptions of the missions, or let your friends read lines in your epic RPG and so on. The possibilities are almost limitless, and at this point we can be confident that the player base will use these tools in ways we can't even imagine.
Yet another new acquaintance are Sackbots. Small computer controlled Sackboys where you can create patterns of movement, behaviour, and weaknesses. Media Molecule demonstrated this functionality by creating a dancing Sackbot in a disco, copy his personality onto 20 other and dressed them up individuality and had them dance their tiny little legs off. You can alter the size of sackbots to your liking and there is also an editing tool for those who wish to make a movie out of their efforts.
Those of you who have played a lot of Little Big Planet may recall PSN user Upsilandres calculator. Media Molecule were so impressed by his work, that they decided to facilitate this by adding a micro chip to Little Big Planet 2. The micro chip will allow you to program functions in to the levels and control the movement of enemies and their abilities exactly the way you want them.
Another welcome change is that you can now string levels you have created together and create a sequence of levels that form a small adventure. Add to this the fact that the Metal Gear-gun from the original (all downloadable content from the first game is included in the sequel) will be available for use when creating levels, and a brand new grappling hook will also add new possibilities. All Little Big Planet 2 players will also be given an account on LBP.me where you can follow each others activities, preview levels and so on.
The charming concept with a platform adventure that moved from continent to continent in the original has been replaced by travels to different time eras. From a gameplay perspective the campaign will still be true to the original as a platformer, but the above mentioned grappling hook will change things up a bit.
One example of the worlds you will get to visit is Techno Renaissance, a nice take on the renaissance. Other examples are Neon Propaganda set during the Cold War where you save workers from factories, and Designer Organic, a level set in nature with lovely vibrant colours. Finally there is our favourite, Hand-Made Arcade, a tribute to old school retro games with cardboard pixels.
Simply put, Little Big Planet 2 looks every bit as indispensable as the original and my fears of a totally unnecessary sequel have been put to rest. Media Molecule are once again advancing the frontiers for user created content as Little Big Planet 2 hits Playstation 3 this fall.