Until recently I'd not owned a PlayStation for over ten years, meaning I've missed out on a number of exclusives, such as Uncharted, God of War and LittleBigPlanet. As seems to be the way with consoles, their exclusive platforming title ends up spawning their mascot, whether that's Mario, Sonic, Master Chief (OK, I know Halo isn't a platformer, but people seem to jump around a lot so give me a break), or in Sony's case Sackboy. So as a LittleBigPlanet virgin and the relatively recent owner of a PS4 I've been looking forward to getting my hands on Sack Thing (as he's often referred to in LBP3) and seeing what all the fuss is about.
First impressions are that LittleBigPlanet
is very cute, so cute I had problems explaining to my wife that this wasn't a children's game, despite the introduction featuring children playing and making things out of card. The majority of the introduction is dedicated not to playing LittleBigPlanet 3
but extolling the virtues of crafting, so much so that it plays more as an advert for Hobbycraft than a welcome to a videogame.
With the Hobbycraft promo out of the way it's obvious that LBP3
looks great. It's probably not the best-looking game on the PS4, but we're not after photorealism here. The environments are bright, fun and varied not only in their setting but also the plethora of materials used to create them. Adding to the pretty pictures is voice work from Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, who provide the voices for the narrator and chief bad guy respectively. As a huge Fry and Laurie fan this is a big plus. Fry's narration is spot on and Laurie seems to revel in the craziness of the evil Newton.
Being new to LBP
I found level design a bit odd at first but soon got used to the way it operates. The use of the Z-axis lets you move in and out of the screen and gives levels more depth than many recent platformers. The ins and outs of the level design did lead me to get lost on some occasions but it's fun, and having different planes to travel on opens up the levels in interesting ways.
While it's fun to take Sackboy through the standard adventure mode, LBP3
's marque feature is the introduction of three new characters: the speedy Odd Sock; Toggle, who can change in size from big to small, and Swoop who can fly and pick players up. All three are welcome additions and change how you play the game and traverse the handmade landscapes. Toggle is a particular favourite as his size-changing ability turns some levels into physics puzzles as you displace water and manipulate springs with his size. Unfortunately all three characters are underused but, combined with the variety of levels, every stage in LBP3
feels like something new. An early level started with Sackboy being chopped into tiny Sack Boys who had to be led to the end of the level - it felt a bit like Lemmings
If you somehow get tired of the game's campaign you have years of player-created LBP
stages to try your hand at, as stages created by fans from all three previous series games are included on the disk, plus there's all the new stages being created as I type this review. Separating the good from the bad is a challenge, as it is with any game that features such a large amount of user-generated content.
As someone who's found building their own levels in games a bit of a challenge I really enjoyed the Popit Academy - a mix of game and tutorial that has you using creation tools to overcome puzzles. I've never enjoyed a tutorial as much as this and it opens up yet another way to play LBP3
is a joy to play. It's the type of platformer that puts a smile on your face, whether you're a child or just the big kind of kid. The three new characters are welcome additions and I'm sure their presence in future LBP
s will be increased. For variety and joy LBP3
is hard to beat.
+ Beautiful to look and great voice work
+ Such variety and creativity
+ It's just fun, as games should be
- Greater use of new characters needed
- User-generated levels are a mixed bag
- Boss battles can be dull
SPOnG Score: 9/10