|Genre||Publisher||Release date||Release O.S||Available on|
|Platformer||Sony||26/11/2014||PS4, PS3||Sony Store|
With Christmas over and the New Year off and running I thought I’d take advantage of the quiet gaming release period by grabbing myself a couple of bargains in the sales. LittleBigPlanet 3 caught my eye – after all any excuse to dust off the PlayStation 4 was incentive enough in my book. Is this platforming exclusive the best Sony’s latest system has to offer or is just yet another title that fails to really prove its next generation pedigree.
The LittleBigPlanet series has made its name on its cute visuals, fun platforming but more importantly, it’s impressive range of user creation tools, allowing players to create anything from epic masterpieces to silly disasters. We’ve seen several of these games on various platforms now and while each one has brought with it a few new ideas, I’ll admit that on first loading up this third outing, it was hard to really see what exactly developer Sumo Digital had brought to the table themselves to really help set the game apart.
The game’s main story mode takes pre-created stages and spreads them over a number of bigger hub areas. Each hub has a selection of NPCs each with their own mission to pass onto you. While it does add a little replay value, sadly the tasks themselves are none too exciting. Fortunately the actual main stages fair better and offer a decent enough selection of ideas. The addition of gadgets certainly helps too. These contraptions used by Sackboy himself give the little guy extra abilities that include teleporting, riding rails with a hook hat and more. Of course there are also the new characters themselves too…
Toggle allows players to transform into a huge beast with added power or much smaller handy for fitting between narrow gaps. Swoop meanwhile as the name might reveal can fly with his wings. Finally Oddsock since he runs on all fours is the fastest of the bunch whilst also being able to run up walls. While each brings with them their own unique skills, they feel underutilised over the game’s brief four or so hour run time.
The actual platforming itself feels solid enough. Level design feels okay but doesn’t exactly blow you away. Whilst the game continues to throw layers into the mix allowing you to venture between fore and background, the ideas don’t seem to be as imaginative as they could be. Sackboy and the crew have some weight about them and respond to your controls with relative ease be it simple jumps or using their handful of gadgets however things could certainly do with tightening up. Thanks to the loose, almost slippery way the game often handles, unnecessary deaths are a persistent event finding myself sliding over and off small platforms or mistiming jumps time and time again. After playing platformers like New Super Mario Bros and Tropical Freeze things feel sloppier here and while it certainly takes some getting used to, it still feels like it could be better. Four player simultaneous play is an option throughout but either doesn’t work nor add much to the actual gameplay.
Challenge rooms act as a good introduction to the game’s mechanics and editing abilities whilst also offering the chance to unlock even more goodies for your ever expanding collection.
Of course as expected, the game’s real strength lies in its insanely deep creation features. Everything from platformers to shooters to racers can be created here even expanded to the point where you can create your own world maps to house them. As you delve deeper into the game’s campaign you’ll quickly unlock even more options and tools be it stickers, backgrounds or terrain pieces. If you’re like me though and lack that creative spark then fear not as the LittleBigPlanet community is full to the brim with other players’ creations to download. While the main single player adventure may feel a little lacking you can rest assure that there are plenty of exciting and inventive ideas online from players all over the world. Highlights I’ve come across so far include a replica of 1-1 from Super Mario Bros as well as a stage taking place on a sinking Titanic. Even better is the fact that creations made in either of the two previous LittleBigPlanet games are fully compatible here too.
Visually the game has a great, stylish look to it. Stages are made up of everyday items resulting in plenty of random and original themes. Take Manglewood for example, a world filled with plenty of American-style scenery including diners and casinos. While the usual tropes of deserts, snow-capped mountains and grassy hills are common place in this genre, it’s certainly a refreshing change to see them MIA here. Sadly LittleBigPlanet 3 fails to run smoothly. As soon as the game loaded and the opening cutscene kicked in I was treated to plenty of slowdown, texture pop-ins and freezing. For a game that doesn’t exactly seem to be pushing the console’s capabilities to breaking point (differences between this and the PS3 version seem minor at best) it feels hugely disappointing and downright sloppy for one of Sony’s biggest franchises to be treated in such a manner. Past LittleBigPlanet games haven’t suffered in this way so why start with the series’ PS4 debut?
Underneath its charming visuals and quirky style truth of the matter is LittleBigPlanet 3 feels like a pretty average platformer. It’s not that it’s a bad game, but rather an uninspired one. Sony’s latest struggles to impress especially in a year full of much better examples of the genre.
- Excellent creation tools
- User created content is seemingly endless
- Game oozes effortless style
- Single player story lacks excitement
- Visuals don’t feel PS4 quality
- Handling not as tight as it should be