LittleBigPlanet 3 is a decent LittleBigPlanet game. If you’re into what the previous games did and want to carry your creative capabilities over onto Sony’s new console, it’s the game for you. However, if your sole purpose is to jump into single-player or to simply enjoy the host of user-created material that’s readily available as soon as you pop the disc in, you might find yourself slightly disappointed.
Now helmed by Sumo Digital, the folks behind a ton of SEGA titles that had no right to be great but were anyway, like the revamped Out Run, Sonic Superstar Tennis and Racing series’, LittleBigPlanet is still as charming of a game as it has ever been. Thrown in yet again as Sackboy, the ever lovable, huggable, adorable plush figure, you’re given a variety of things to do in the game.
Among those is a more fleshed out story mode, which now actually has an actual story to tell. While little of it is of any actual consequence, it’s nice to see a bit more focus in that regard. The levels aren’t as visually random as in previous games because they’re now trying their best to fit in with the world hub it’s set in. Now, that doesn’t mean they’re any less crazy looking as before — in fact, the visual variety in LittleBigPlanet 3 is as colorful and popping as ever.
As it was heavily advertised during its trade show presentations, LittleBigPlanet 3 gives Sackboy some friends to hop around with. Each of these adorable new creatures comes with its own unique set of skills. Swoop the bird can carry items and buddies to new heights, while Oddsock brings in the precision platforming the series is famous for lacking, with the ability to bounce off of walls and platforms. Toggle can change size to reach spots that are otherwise not easily reached by the rest of the pack, as well as weighing down switches while as his normal burly self. Sadly, after each of their cool little introductions and boss fights, they rarely see much use anywhere else.
Their use is also disappointingly limited in cooperative play. That’s because practically all the levels are designed for a certain character, forcing all players to use the same sack creature. That limitation is a little mind-boggling considering how well these guys interplay in the one rare and particularly awesome section of the story mode where LittleBigPlanet 3 does allow everyone to pick a different sack creature.
In their defense, Sumo Digital did give old Sackboy a neat upgrade, given he’s the one you’ll actually spend most of your time with. He can now carry all the tools you pick up at once, allowing you to quickly switch them out with relative ease, via a pop-up menu. It isn’t the most radical addition anyone could expect, but it gives Sackboy a little more flexibility, or as much as one could expect from a running and jumping bean bag doll.
Given the game is now running on PlayStation 4, it’s no surprise that it looks fairly better than any of the past LittleBigPlanets. There’s also a lot of impressive effects that help set the mood in the adventure mode, like stormy clouds, rain and wild during a scene in which Sackboy is crossing the seas in an improvised tug boat.
But the most important element of having a LittleBigPlanet game on PlayStation 4 is the added horsepower to help boost the creative limits of the user-generated content. It’s still incredible to see the amount of craftiness the host of custom levels are already in place. Sure, you’re still bound to run into the trophy boosting ones that have nothing more than a big pile of item spheres over a drab looking straight corridor, but for each of these, there’s a ridiculous amount of creatively and painstakingly crafted games that are already miles ahead of what I got to enjoy in LittleBigPlanet 2.
The creative suite was also expanded. For the most part, they work the same way as they have since the first game. The added caveat is that you can now work on 16 layers of level depth, which can give your levels an absurd amount of detail, if you put your back into making it work. Compared to what was previously available, a three slice system in LittleBigPlanet 2, it’s a huge upgrade, but also demands even more dedication and effort if you hope to make anything close to decent.
And like the saying goes, tools only go so far as a creative mind that uses them. To help that happen, LittleBigPlanet 3‘s ‘Pop It Academy’ comes into play, to help you expand your knowledge on just what you can do with them. It offers a host of stages that act as tutorials for the construction mode. They also work as lessons for the use of the blaster handle, a nifty little addition that can be fully customized for use in your creations as a weapon, pick up, or even both.
These lessons are cleverly designed problems that require smart use of the creative tools to solve them, as well as a healthy dose of platforming. In my personal experience, they left me terribly anxious as to whether or not I should start creating my own content within LittleBigPlanet. I’m always terrified at the prospect of that level of immersion with every new LittleBigPlanet, but am also reminded of just how much potential new game designers these seemingly innocent creative resources can help flourish.
It’s worth noting that even a few months after the game was released, there’s still an annoying amount of bugs, both off and online. One made my game hang up at a loading screen, forcing me to quit out and lose a large chunk of in-game progress. The same happened when I was trying finding online players, dropping me into their game only to completely halt it during loading. It was also somewhat difficult trying to access the user creations via the very unstable level browser.
LittleBigPlanet 3 does somewhat of a good job in bringing the franchise to Sony’s new more capable console. It carries with it all of the excellent user created content from previous versions of the game and stacks to a surprisingly robust amount of things to do. On the other hand, it’s disappointing to see that LittleBigPlanet 3 doesn’t take any big risks. Even when boasts the introduction of new charming playable characters, they don’t live up to their potential in cooperative play. It’s the series’ charm and overall dependence on its users’ creativity that ends up being what keeps this newest entry above water.