Review: LittleBIGPlanet 3 (PS4)
The time has finally arrived for one of the most creative and imaginative games to arrive on the PS4. The LittleBIGPlanet franchise has not only proven, time and time again, that a successful game need not contain bullets, violence or weapons of mass destruction, and that it can be fun for all ages. Now, under the guidance of a new developer, our favourite Sack Person has made his way onto the PS4 and he’s just as amazing as he was before.
Sumo Digital had very (little)big shoes to fill when they developed the game, and they’ve done a pretty good job overall. The essence of the series is very much present, but with a few improvements and some new additions. The first and most obvious addition is the inclusion of a story. Although not as imaginative as the concept of the game, the story is entertaining and light-hearted, just as it should be. Another new introduction to the franchise are voices for each of the NPCs, most noteably Hugh Laurie as Newton, a naïve inventor who inadvertently becomes the game’s main antagonist. However, some things stay the same, like Stephen Fry returning as the eloquent narrator.
The story begins with Sack Boy who lands up in Bunkum, a new world unlike any other. Upon his arrival, Sack Boy meets Newton, a being who lacks true creativity. Right off the bat Newton tricks Sack Boy into releasing three highly dangerous Titans – beings who can manipulate creativity to their will. As soon as they are released, Newton absorbs the Titans in his pursuit to bring more wonder to the world of Bunkum. Unfortunately, the Titans have other plans, so it’s up to Sack Boy to save the day. But he can’t do it alone. This is the part where LittleBIGPlanet 3 differs the most from previous entries. For the first time ever, you get to play three additional characters, each with their own gift. Oddsock, Toggle and Swoop are the three legendary heroes of Bunkum who have gone missing after sealing away the Titan threat many moons ago. Now it’s up to Sack Boy to bring them back from hiding.
The game is divided into four different worlds, each with their own theme, side missions, unlockables and boss. Oddsock, Toggle and Swoop are unlocked upon completing various missions in each world. In order to unlock the character, you need to collect their Marbles. Once collected, you get to play as the new character in their own unique level. Their unique gifts also add a level of gameplay that’s not been seen in the LBP series and it’s a massive breath of fresh air. Oddsock’s gift, for example, is the ability to wall jump and dash around the screen. I find his levels the most fast-paced and enjoyable of the lot. Toggle’s gift is the ability to switch between a large sack and a small sack. Whilst playing as the Big Toggle, you can move heavier objects and break glass. As Tiny Toggle, you can run on water, move quicker and fit in small areas. Finally there’s Swoop, a flying bird capable of swooping around and dodging all dangers. He can also lift certain objects and reach normally inaccessible areas.
Sack Boy also gets a lovely upgrade, but in the form of equipment. He now possess five tools that can be used to get through many levels. And they’re all used very effectively. The first gadget you receive, the pumpinator, allows you to pump or suck air, forcing certain objects to move near or away from you. You also get a tool that allows you to teleport, boots that allow you to launch in the air, a torch that illuminates hidden secrets and a helmet that’s used to ride rails.
Although there’s a lot that’s been added to the game – such as the gadgets and new characters – the controls are as simple as ever. There’s practically zero learning curve involved, so newcomers won’t feel overwhelmed. In fact, I had my three year old niece play the game for a bit. She loves the game, but found holding the controller a difficult, she is three and the PS4 controller is not exactly tiny. Co-op is also loads of fun, especially when you’re playing as the newer characters. Swoops levels are amazing when you play co-op. If you manage to synchronize with your friends, your air manoeuvers will look like an airshow.
What’s also great about the game is that it notifies you when someone online is playing the level you’re about to enter. It asks you if you’d like to join, so finding and joining an online game is a breeze – unless you get denied. There’s also the plethora of community levels for you to play once you’ve beaten the game. Here are three examples of the themed levels: Dead Space, Titanic and Plants vs. Zombies. The community levels, however, are a little problematic. I’m not sure why, but my game will often freeze or switch off. It’s also not the only problem in the game either. Numerous times throughout the story, the game momentarily freezes. Occasionally my character will fall into the floor or wall when moving rapidly, and there was one occasion, while playing co-op, when my Tiny Toggle flew into the air and outside the realm of the game. I also noticed my characters’ outfits occasionally changed during certain cutscenes.
I have to take my hat off as I really did enjoy playing LittleBIGPlanet 3. The story is a tad short, about 6 – 7 hours long, but there’s plenty to collect, side missions to tackle, loads of community levels complete and let’s not forget, you’ve got a whole moon to create your own levels with. For those who enjoy the creative side of LBP, the hours spent in this game could be limitless.