I had reservations upon hearing that Media Molecule had parted ways with the LittleBigPlanet series, leaving Sumo Digital to fill big shoes in shaping the future of one of the PlayStation’s best franchises, but upon boot I realised that LittleBigPlanet 3 is still as original and charming as ever. It’s still a beautifully crafted experience, one that lets the players themselves make a good majority of the quality content and let their imaginations go wild, and it’s still a blast to play alone or with others.
True to the series, you start out as a Sackperson, more specifically Sackboy, sent on an errand to rid the world of Bunkum from three nefarious Titans who have corrupted Hugh Laurie voiced light bulb Newton and his intentions to sprinkle a little more creativity in his home world. While the storyline is relatively similar to previous LittleBigPlanet titles, there are plenty of new inclusions that spice things up, including three new characters to play as. These are unlocked as the main campaign progresses, with each character housing a new set of skills, such as the adorable bird-like Swoop who can fly and carry objects and the superfast, wall running Oddsock.
While the maps boast a familiar design, the layout is significantly more polished compared to previous titles, making navigation much easier. The main adventure takes place over several worlds, each containing a handful of levels in which you must collect marbles to awaken each of the games new characters. These different worlds boast a less restrictive take on the LittleBigPlanet level selection process, giving you the chance to let Sackboy explore different environments in search for rare collectables before heading to the beginning of each mission.
There’s a handful of new tricks up Sackboy’s sleeve too, allowing him to mess around with the environment to get to those ever increasingly difficult stickers and materials. These abilities are highly intuitive and smart, from the Pumpinator, which lets you blow and pull nearby objects, to the Boost Boots which let you jump even further and higher. While initially these gadgets will help with your current task and provide the necessary tools to defeat the end of level boss, you can use them in previous levels by backtracking to help reach previously unlocked areas. It’s a lot of fun to go through the game with a friend and a complete set of gadgets to see if you can grab all the collectables that you previously struggled to get.
While it’s still sometimes risky business conducting difficult jumps with the games relatively delicate physics system, your characters feel more grounded than before and you’ll find you’ll make less annoying mistakes thanks to better overall player handling. I did however encounter a few problems along the way that, while not spoiling the game did knock the quality of an otherwise great product. The most distracting of these included a fairly poor framrate at times, leading to choppy scenes and sluggish behaviour. It could be forgiven if it was just during online play, especially with my relatively poor internet connection, but even offline I experienced problems to get the game to run smoothly. You’ll probably find that these issues won’t affect the Playstation 4 version of the game, but at the very least the previous gen edition seems to have a handful of performance issues.
Main campaign aside there’s still a nice selection of bonus stuff to entertain single and multiple players, but they all seem to underutilise the new characters, leaving most of the hard work down to Sackboy. It’s a shame that the new cast aren’t included more, especially considering the amount of game time they get during the main stretch is already limited, and it feels like the best addition to LittleBigPlanet 3 is the one you get to use the least.
Those players that like to get creative and make their own stuff will be pleased with the adjustments made to the creation tool, especially with the ability to make longer, more detailed levels with much higher level of depth when compared to previous iterations. All previous player created levels are available too, as are all collected loot and wearables, meaning you can snazz up your pod and Sackperson to your heart’s content.
One of the things I always enjoy with LittleBigPlanet titles is the fantastic art design and as usual, this instalment doesn’t disappoint. It’s full of quirky characters and environments that are a pleasure to explore. The level of detail that goes into making even the smallest of sections is outstanding, and whether you’re sneaking about movie themed hideouts or fighting giant menacing tin robots, it’s consistently well designed. This, coupled with killer voice work and a great soundtrack make this my favourite looking and sounding LittleBigPlanet to date.
LittleBigPlanet 3 is on par with previous entries in the series and serves as a great introduction for new players. It’s a beautifully crafted game with endless player created content to keep you going, but veterans may find the new additions are spread too thin to make this a justifiable sequel. While I can’t speak for its Playstation 4 counterpart, the PS3 versions jumpy frame rate and handful of bugs harbour an otherwise smooth operation, and overall LittleBigPlanet 3 is a solid step into next-gen gaming for a stellar franchise.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 3 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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