Remember how it felt to have no concern for how something worked? Seeing the northern lights, the Grand Canyon, a perfect snowflake as a magical entity without your brain nagging you for a scientific explanation? In a nutshell, that is how it feels to play "LittleBigPlanet 2." The sense of childish wonder and thrill of discovery "LittleBigPlanet 2" (LBP2) evokes cannot be understated. The collective imaginations at developer Media Molecule seem to be trapped inside a child’s innocent and endlessly creative mind, but augmented with the skills to instill these feelings onto anyone capable of picking up a PS3 controller.
Sony’s "Play, Share, Create" mantra introduced in "LittleBigPlanet" and refined in "ModNation Racers" has risen to a stunning crescendo in LBP2. Not unlike the Rock Band series, this isn’t merely a sequel but a platform for both fledgling level designers and gamers seeking an endless supply of new experiences.
The whimsical single player campaign is relatively short in length (though you'll want to play it at least twice), but it is so creatively dense enough to contain gameplay mechanics for multiple games and genres, all executed perfectly within the framework of Media Molecules "imagisphere." Your "Sackthing" (Sackboy didn’t represent the ladies, you see) traverses six wildly different worlds in an adventure to stop the malicious Negativitron. From piloting furry bumblebees in side-scrolling shooter levels and surprisingly enjoyable sackbot escort missions, to microscopic journeys into the mind of a mad inventor and classic platforming, everything feels surprising and nothing feels repeated. The worlds are brimming with so much originality and fun, you’ll catch yourself grinning like the proverbial kid in a candy shop.
Truly, that feeling won’t dissipate when the single player credits roll. Even if you choose not to absorb the 50 tutorials - narrated by the cheeky and charming Stephen Fry – aimed at setting your creative skills into motion, thousands of other "LittleBigPlanet 2" players are exercising their creative chops and publishing a staggering amount of content for the community to experience. You won’t master these creative tools in minutes, days or even weeks – but when you finally click "publish" on your digital handiwork, it’s euphoric
While the first "LittleBigPlanet" allowed you to create and share levels, the enhanced creation tools of LBP2 are birthing wholly unique things. Instead of 500 levels paying homage to Super Mario World Level 1-1, creators are producing episodic short films complete with their own professional voice-overs and original midi compositions. Want to recreate that iconic clock tower scene from "Back to the Future?" Go for it! How about a "Geometry Wars" clone or a Vietnam-themed First Person Shooter (FPS)? Check! With this added functionality and the freedom to create any genre under the sun, seeing complete games with cut scenes isn’t uncommon. We even spotted a perfectly competent "Peggle" clone.
It’s this compelling platform for original storytelling that feeds the infinite replay value of LBP2. This isn’t a game you "beat" or finish in the traditional sense. It’s a game you constantly explore, waiting for the world’s future game developers to take you on a wondrous and unpredictable journey. A select few of you will even come to grips with the robust creation tools and find yourself entertaining hundreds of thousands of other players within Media Molecule’s imagination.
If you're searching for criticism, you'll need to look elsewhere. The "LittleBigPlanet 2" playground simply silences our inner critic, and for that it gets a glowing 5 out of 5.
*Contributor’s Note: A copy of "LittleBigPlanet 2" was provided to College News for review purposes by Sony Computer Entertainment America.