I've played a lot of games over the course of my life. Since the 80s, I've avidly thrown literally hundreds of titles into tens of systems, blowing thousands of dollars at gaming stores. I'm mentioning this to state a simple fact: I have a lot of experience with old games that I can compare new games to. That being said, I really loved "Little Big Planet."
The title took things in a direction that I felt was completely unique for the first time in a LONG time. Sackboy, your in-game avatar, was new in his simplicity, the 3-D while still being 2-D gameplay was an innovation (in the sense of how you could manipulate it), and the ability to create your own levels and distribute them for the world to play was revolutionary. This was taking an online community into a whole new dimension, with people spending many hours creating and tweaking in order to produce a level purely for other people's enjoyment, with no financial reward at the end of the rainbow. In that sense, society in general hasn't been that generous with their time since, well, forever.
I personally don't play the title that often anymore. I got to the point where the difficulty of some of the original levels that comprise the storyline which shipped with the game was not in line with what I wanted to be playing with this title, and as a result I kind of gave up trying to reach the end. Those of you familiar with the title will understand when I mention the Ninjamaster Castle levels. Those rotating and moving grab points to climb the towers just put me off the game, but I still look occasionally to see new player-created levels, and enjoy that. Then, I got my hands on the demo for "Little Big Planet 2."
My excitement for this title stems more from the kind of incredible gameplay that people will be able to create with the game than with anything the game itself contains. Yes, it is interesting that Sackboy can control new vehicles, it is thrilling that he has a grappling hook that can help him get to hard to reach places, it is wonderful that the environment has changed to provide more interesting ways to get from point A to point B...the gameplay was innovative the first time around, but this time it is just background noise. No, it is going to be all about creating levels, mark my words.
If you've take a look at the trailer for the game, or downloaded the demo yourself, you've seen where the future of the title lies. The remarkable number of variations upon the main theme that can be produced by deft manipulation of the Create-A-Level controls will become the biggest selling point this game has to offer, and rightly so. Add that to the fact that each and every player-made level from the first title will still be available and playable here, and it is clear to see that Media Molecule knows that their sequel is less a chance to run Sackboy through his new paces, and more of a toybox for everyone to build with.
In that sense, "Little Big Planet 2" might just be Game Of The Year for 2011. Until next time, gamerscore, ho!
"Little Big Planet 2" released in North America on January 18th.