Some would argue that LittleBigPlanet didn't need a sequel - and they'd have a strong case. If you were brainy enough to truly master the original game's super-tricky creation tools, LBP1 is simply the game that keeps on giving.
But let's face it: that doesn't apply to the majority of us. Media Molecule's create-em-up was a brilliant, console-defining title, no doubt - but despite the 2.5 million-odd levels it spawned, the PS3 exclusive didn't quite achieve its goal of creating a level design democracy.
Your average fan - and I'm speaking as he - gave up on his Mario Bros. level 1 remake after a day, electing instead to marvel at the efforts of LBP gurus on YouTube and beyond.
This is where LittleBigPlanet 2 really earns its spurs, complemented by the improved, ingeniously paced and stupidly imaginative single-player story. Media Molecule has finally succeeded in bringing game creation to the Ordinary Joes - not just the John Carmack-ites. And it's done so whilst offering more depth and freedom of choice than one mind can handle.
Once again LittleBigPlanet 2's Sackboy experience is split into two sides, Story mode and Create mode. Just as with the original, there's more than enough fun to be had in the single-player campaign (or co-co-cooperative if you've got some spare mates with pads) to justify a purchase.
Story mode is better paced and more charming than its predecessor and stuffed absolutely full of imagination. Fans of the original game will adore it. Once again introduced by the relaxing voice of Stephen Fry, the LBP2 adventure sends your Sackboy (or girl) across a globe of platforming (and shooting, RTS'ing, etc. etc.) to defeat a big vacuum-cleaning baddie.
This Story planet is divided into six different areas, each uniquely themed and comprised of eight levels to play through. Though you could never fault the bonkers creativity on offer in the original LittleBigPlanet, the sequel's story is simply more solid, coherent and satisfying, with carefully crafted cut-scenes guiding you through an adventure to thwart evil-doers who are spreading negative rays across Craftworld.
It's charming, brilliant fun and no two levels force you to do the same thing. One moment you'll be prancing through a gothic castle, the next you'll be shooting baddies from the back of a tooled-up camel or commanding an army of friendly sackbots.
Cutscenes, which are all made using the same tools players have access too in Create mode, are funny and sharp, seducing you into playing further through the Sackpeoples' bonkers quest.
Even if you never touch LittleBigPlanet 2's creation tools, the single-player adventure is surprising and clever enough to give you a thoroughly good time.
The Little Things
But, as much fun as it is to play through other peoples' creations, the solo game is really just propaganda; an advert to tempt you into gluing something together yourself.
QI darling Fry walks you through your tool bag in over 50 (yes, 50) tutorials, and thanks to his soothing tone they're all comprehensible and interesting. Fortunately, you no longer have to wade through every one in order to access Create mode's more advanced tools. Thankfully, you can now grasp whichever gizmos you want, in whichever order you choose.
The entire experience feels a lot easier. To emulate the mental contraptions the LittleBigPlanet community stitched together in the first game - using head-exploding combinations of timers, logic gates and counters, remember - LittleBigPlanet 2 offers a simpler method, via programmable circuit boards.