Oh, LittleBigPlanet 2. What the hell am I going to do with you? You are a game that is difficult to quantify, much less qualify—larger perhaps than any single console experience out there, built as if by hand by extraordinarily, terrifyingly bright people and brought to life with a kinetic sensibility. An ode to joyous, chaotic motion, you are the toy box and the toys wrapped into one, the Rube to my PS3's Goldberg. You have music in your soul. You are a spectacularly groovy game.
Fortunately LittleBigPlanet 2 is much, much more fun to play than LittleBigPlanet. What's interesting is how the designers at Media Molecule went about making that happen—rather than tighten up the game's physics or redesign its platforming, they simply added more mechanics to the core game and in doing so circumvented many of the first title's more frustrating elements. Unfortunately, that does mean that the platforming in LittleBigPlanet 2 is still a bit loose and can be frustrating in parts, but for some reason I didn't mind it as much. It certainly helps that death feels far less punitive than it did in the first game.In any given level of LittleBigPlanet 2, Sackboy (now referred to by the non-gender-specific "Sackthing") is granted all manner of cool powerups, from a super-strong throwing arm to a riotously fun grappling hook to a menagerie of differently powered, rideable animals. A surprisingly small percentage of the game is spent doing unadorned platforming, and the overall experience is undoubtedly stronger for it.It's during the plentiful mounted "vehicle" segments that LittleBigPlanet 2 really sets itself apart from its predecessor. Players are given all kinds of new locomotive abilities—a rabbit that leaps and crashes through the air, a spinning hamster-ball that sticks to walls, a wandering camel that shoots lasers, a flying bee, a zooming caterpillar, a barking dog—the upshot is that LittleBigPlanet 2 changes its gameplay gears with a surprising regularity. Peppered into the Mario jumping and stomping is a wide range of references to other classic titles—Sonic Spinball, Galaga, Contra, Bionic Commando, Shadow of the Colossus, Lemmings, Pong—all of which zip by without overstaying their welcome.