Recently, I’ve been working on getting all the unlockable items from LittleBigPlanet 1 & 2 for Create mode, so I’ve had a good chance to compare the two games. Perhaps the most striking difference is an overall shift in metaphor.
LittleBigPlanet is all about the idea that the world is handmade. Objects are very big, thick, and blocky. NPCs are obviously made of bolted-together objects, with their interactive parts pasted on. When LBP came out, there was no option to change the visibility of your connectors, so everything is exposed in story mode. If an object wobbles, you can see the wobble bolt. If something reacts to you, you can see the proximity microchip light up. There’s a heavy emphasis on presenting the idea that you could make this yourself.
LittleBigPlanet 2 is more about presenting a finished world. The seams are hidden more. NPCs act like characters, following you around, and reacting (in a limited fashion) to your actions. There’s still a blocky, handmade look, but the connections and game logic are hidden. It’s more of a traditional game story: rather than being a puppet moving through a diorama, you’re a character in a world.
Other than that, they just did an impressive number of tweaks without changing the underlying game mechanics. Characters seem to move better, objects look better, and fire looks like fire instead of a wispy sheet of flames. It must have been an interesting development experience – needing to tighten the gameplay and improve the graphics without invalidating any levels created in LittleBigPlanet 1.
It’s the classic question of a sequel: how much can you change without fundamentally changing anything at all? In LBP’s case, the answer is “quite a bit!”