LittleBigPlanet is back folks! Our favourite embroidered hero Sackboy returns to traverse the patchwork terrain we have grown to love over the years. This time he isn’t alone, and bringing along with him to the next gen console is an over-exuberant cast of craftwork companions: Oddsock, Toggle and Swoop. Will Sony’s classic plentiful platformer find success leaping to the PS4? Or does the game fall apart at the seams? Find out in the scintillating world of Bunkum.
Absolutely no one can argue that this game doesn’t have charm; the moment you install the game and boot it up you’re introduced and welcomed again to the world of LittleBigPlanet. In regards to this, we have the wonderful and talented Stephen Fry to greet us into the world and start our adventure as soon as the opening cut scene finishes. Hugh Laurie voices the antagonist in this third instalment and does a splendid job too. With this, the tonality of the game really does stick out thanks to these fine actors but despite this, it seems Sony spent their entire budget on the voice cast rather than the gameplay this time around, as the story mode is lacking in longevity. I encountered more bugs in my first play through than I have camping out in the wilderness on a hot summer’s night.
It’s no surprise now that the game is notorious for its content and it’s a spectacle to see how much the community has contributed so much to the previous instalments in the franchise (come on people, Final Fantasy VII reimagined in the LBP universe) and this in itself is the main appeal of the game. However, with such contenders like Project Spark and Minecraft, LittleBigPlanet isn’t alone in the creative sandbox genre and must do a lot more than its predecessors. Luckily this game is backwards compatible and one can upload past creations, but how do the future levels compare? Well this is entirely up to you as it’s the community that plays and creates. For now however, let’s get back to the story.
The story is this: a lightbulb-headed pygmy with daddy issues named Newton makes the mistake of opening and unleashing three evil titans on the world of Bunkum and it is up to you to rectify these mistakes. My problem is not with the story itself because after all, the target audience for this game is clearly for kids, but lies with its length. For the “World’s most powerful console”, it seems this game doesn’t take advantage of what the PS4 can potentially do and it begs the question of how the last two games on an inferior console can offer more than this new instalment in the story mode department. On the contrary, the games creativity part offers tons more. For example, there are sixteen layers of platforms and obstacles one can potentially fill out from front to back to create a truly impressive experience, but to have only three worlds that can completed easily if you’re an experienced player baffles my mind in a third instalment. Let’s just hope LBP doesn’t fall into the DLC hype and offer us more, later, at an extended cost.
The platforming is amazing; here’s hoping for a new Crash Bandicoot game and a new Spyro that doesn’t have the Skylanders attached to it, but for now we have LBP for our platforming needs and it really does excel at what it does best: jumping, climbing, swinging, flying and the use of new tools such as the Pumpinator and the Blink Ball make the experience a whole lot of fun for the most part. Moreover, the new characters bring a whole new outlook on the way levels can now be traversed.
You unlock all the new folks in story mode and each boss thereafter is defeated using your new unlocked companion. To start, Toggle has the ability to morph in sizes with the touch of a button which is used to sink down into water or go small to fit into gaps. Oddsock is a dog like creature that uses all fours to run super-fast around the stages, bouncing off walls and the like and Swoop is appropriately named to glide around desired levels. They’re great to use, but I remember taping my eyes together early in the morning watching the 2014 E3 conference and salivating at the demo shown of LBP 3 there. It showed a level using all four characters to solve puzzles, showing me that this game will need a team of four to fully complete, but it seems there’s none of that here in the final product. In addition, the multiplayer works well for the most part until you partner up with a complete imbecile.
You’re asked on each stage to partner up with a random person across the globe to complete a level together and I must say I love how the game urged me to be sociable but luckily enough for me, I had a partner to play local multiplayer. Now, it’s not to say my friend was bad at the game (she was probably better than me) but one massive gripe was with the lack of a split-screen function. If one player decides to go left and the other right, one of you will lose a life. It’s cool I could use my Vita as a second controller (yeah, that handheld), but where was the function for me to have a separate screen on that and my partner to use the television? Perhaps I’m nitpicking and if this was the first in a series, these gripes would be overlooked, but this is the third, on a next gen console.
It could be argued that I might be missing the point of the whole game as LBP is purely focused around creating and sharing and I’ve tried a lot of great creations so far … and a lot of bad ones. Granted, as the years go by I’m sure people will become greatly accustomed to the creation mode and offer all kinds of experiences. I’ve played a Dead Space themed level which served me well and a Flappy Bird knock of which wasn’t too shabby and the lifespan of the game purely relies on what is made post story mode experience. I completely suck at creating something half decent. To me, watching the demos on what can be made in LBP is like watching an episode of Art Attack or SMart: I’m amazed and excited at how something looks to be made, but when trying to replicate what is shown, the end product always looks an abomination; Creation mode is more frustrating that fun.
The levels made by the developers are truly clever and amazing to play on; really, I just wish there was more of that throughout. Sure, the game seeps charm and delight, but for a third instalment I believe more could have been done with this game. Glitches are a plentiful also; on numerous levels my characters would get stuck in the environment and the video that’s played when leaving the game idle doesn’t have any sound.
The final verdict? Buy at a reduced price later on when more content has been added.