The LittleBigPlanet series originally started back in 2008 on the PlayStation 3, this latest entry in the series has also been released on PlayStation 3 and this is the version I played. It was also released for the PlayStation 4. I’ve always enjoyed the LBP series and followed it on the PlayStation 3 and Playstation Vita, though I did avoid the spinoff games like Run Sackboy! Run! and LittleBigPlanet Karting. The first game had a great, fresh feeling to it, with the delightful narration by Stephen Fry and the new idea that players could create an endless amount of levels using the same tools that the developers used to create the main campaign. While the platforming was marred by the floaty physics when it came to controlling Sackboy’s jumping, the emphasis on “Play, Create, Share” made the game a success.
LittleBigPlanet 3 has taken everything that made the earlier games great and has done its best to improve every aspect. You have an even bigger wardrobe to choose from when customising your Sackboy and you can carry over your save file from previous games to keep the outfits you have already collected. Every level created by players from the earlier games are still playable too and Stephen Fry is still here narrating the story, though the plot was never really LittleBigPlanet’s selling point. It is a simple tale just used as reason for you to get adventuring and meet the new playable characters while encouraging the idea that everyone should have fun with their imagination and enjoy the process of creating and sharing their creations.
The main adventure is short and serves its purpose more as just showing you what is possible in the game, getting you used to the platforming, controls, new accessories and characters. There are several different lands Sackboy visits in the game and each is a hub world with a collection of levels scattered around it. Some of these levels progress the story and others show you what is possible with the different Creator tools and the potential variety of the types of levels you could make. One example of this is a level that lets you take control of a Yeti while another has you control several tiny Sackboys and try to reach the end with as many of them as possible. There are also now ‘collectabells’ to find in the hub levels too, these act as a currency for you to spend on new outfits in the game’s shop. As you gain more accessories and unlock more characters, different areas of these hubs become available and you are encouraged to explore them all. One hidden section leads you to a portal where the developers pick some of their favourite user created levels and showcase them for you to play.
The accessories I mentioned come out of Sackboy’s new sack pocket that can hold new tools he finds that give him new abilities. One is a hat that lets him zipline through levels while another is the ‘pumpinator’. This lets him either shoot a blast of wind at obstacles or suck them towards him. Being able to use these new accessories keeps him interesting when compared to the new characters who have teamed up to help him, Oddsock, Toggle and Swoop. Oddsock is like a dog type character that can run fast and along walls, Toggle can instantly transform from a larger sack person to a tiny one giving him the most versatility and Swoop is able to fly through each level. Swoop has been criticised as not offering much diversity in levels but personally I loved being able to fly around the place. Sadly there isn’t much opportunity in the main game to use all these characters together, when playing local or online co-op everyone normally has to use the same character which is a shame.
Just playing this main campaign will make for a very quick game, you will get the most from Little Big Planet trying out user created levels and creating your own. The community is designed so you can quickly find the newest levels or the most played or most hearted levels if you want to try the more popular ones. This way you can filter which levels to try out of the enormous selection available.
Creating levels is something I was never a fan of in this series, the controls just seemed too slow for me to get to know and I was never encouraged to spend a lot of time trying things out, even though I was very impressed seeing what others could do. LittleBigPlanet 3 goes to new lengths to change this and drops a familiar face into ‘popit puzzles’ to guide you through learning how to use the level creator piece by piece and somehow making it feel more lively when learning about all the creator tools on offer.
My biggest criticism for LittleBigPlanet 3 are the loading times, these can be painful when you select an option on a menu and change your mind to go to a different option. You are met with extended loading screens at every turn and this bothered me more than the frame rate which stuttered at times all throughout the game. The graphics too are not very impressive but this is the PlayStation 3 version of the game I played, not the PlayStation 4.
If you didn’t enjoy earlier LBP games, nothing has been changed too drastically here to make you change your mind but if you were a fan of any earlier entries then this new addition should have enough extra features to keep you entertained. I didn’t experience the same sense of delight as I did when I first played the original LittleBigPlanet but the charm is still there if you can tolerate the overly long loading times. For those new to the series this is a massive platformer with an incredible amount of online content on offer that only continues to grow with its community.