AAA, LittleBigPlanet Style
In a holiday environment filled with the exosuits of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, the medieval violence of Dragon Age: Inquisition and the deep stories of games like Assassin’s Creed Unity, sometimes a nice lighthearted game is just what we need. Sony is happy to oblige with the latest edition to the LittleBigPlanet family: LittleBigPlanet 3, a fun customizable platformer that follows Sackboy and his new friends as they embark on a lovely adventure together. Well, almost.
As LittleBigPlanet 3 opens, we see Sackboy and the narrator (played by Stephen Fry) as they have fun in LittleBigPlanet until the new character Newton (played by Hugh Laurie) kidnaps Sackboy and takes him to Bunkham, where Newton unleashes three dark creativity-stealing demons. Now Sackboy must find the three heroes of Bunkham — Oddsock, Toggle and Swoop — and put these demons in their place and restore Bunkham to its former glory.
The story in LBP3 is nothing to write home about. Seeing that it is a game meant for the young and young at heart, its simplicity here isn’t bad. However, more could have been done with the humor factor of the game. While Sumo Digital gave the game the cutesy charm the Media Molecule series is known for, it tries to take itself seriously at times, especially in the cutscenes. This took me out of the experience when it tried to create tension in this otherwise fun-loving and adorable story.
A feature in the story as well as the gameplay is the introduction of the legendary heroes of Bunkham. Oddsock is a dog that is able to run up walls and run fast. Toggle can change between a large, heavy form and a lighter, smaller form. Swoop can fly. As with Sackboy, they cannot talk and are customizable with their own colors and costumes. What is sad is that these characters are not a part of the main campaign for long. They arrive for an introductory level, a boss fight and part of one more level. Yes, you can change into them in their respective hub worlds where they have their own specific challenges, but overall, I would have preferred to see more puzzles involving these characters throughout the quest.
I don’t spend too much time with the gameplay because it is mostly because it is unchanged from previous LittleBigPlanet games. The platforming is floaty but fun. Sackboy and pals can pick up score bubbles and jump on buttons and use powerups to solve puzzles. While the game does take use of some 3D elements, it sticks to the familiar ground of 2D, where the game plays quite well.
The game sounds great, especially being on the PS4 and with full voice acting. Sackboy and chums find several people in Bunkham, all of whom have a voice. Many of these are humorous have a nice charm to them; however, I feel as if some opportunities were lost here. Newton teases our heroes from time to time, and the narrator barely has any lines at all. It seems that the writers were afraid to capitalize on the big names of Fry and Laurie, who have wonderful chemistry together. Other characters don’t follow us on our journey, making any character that is loved only temporary. Where there is a fun person in the world, however, there will be another to take its place.
The visuals also stand out, also benefiting from the PS4. The graphics, while obviously not photo-realistic, are bright and fun to mess around in and with. All of scenery pops out, and the various objects and themes the levels had tickled me in oddly nostalgic places. An 80’s style level with songs like “Mr. Sandman” playing in the background? Sign me up. However, I did have to deal with the occasional graphical glitch here and there. For example, I was in a boss fight with Toggle where I would disappear when in the smaller form. When I died, I would see myself again, only my tiny form would actually be Sackboy.
As with the previous LittleBigPlanet series, almost anything that you see in the game can be found in prize bubbles scattered throughout the game. Some items require backtracking to get, as they require other powerups and cooperative play in order to unlock. Co-op is fun, but during the times I have tried it, I found a few graphical hiccups. The puzzles were great and even made interesting use of the new characters.
Finally, we have the level creator, which is as expansive as ever. Seeing as people have nearly done the impossible like recreate Final Fantasy VII in LittleBigPlanet 2, the options here only add to the wonderfulness. With sixteen layers that players can use as well as the new characters to play around with, it brings creativity from the likes of classic 2D platformers to the realm of 3D. With all user-made levels from previous LittleBigPlanet games included, people could spend hours upon hours with just one game.
The Verdict: 7.4 out of 10
LittleBigPlanet 3 seems like a kid version of a modern AAA game. While it has big name actors like Hugh Laurie behind the project and much fun is to be had with the game, the fact is that the game doesn’t live up to its potential. It has underused gimmicks in the new characters, cutscenes that mix up the tone, graphical hiccups that occasionally rear their heads and gameplay that is largely the same from previous iterations. It is still cute and fun with new creative elements for people to make grand new worlds. However, LittleBigPlanet 3 traded in a little charm for AAA conformity and it suffers slightly for it. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to try to make a bunch of video game levels where I, get this, dress as a green plumber and fight a giant turtle.
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