When Media Molecule left LittleBigPlanet, I felt a little sad. Similar to having one of my favourite restaurants close, the thought of having another studio take on the task of filling my taste for creativity was a tough one. Fortunately Sumo Digital first tested their LittleBigPlanet skills by handling the PS Vita entry, and they seem to have made a seamless crossover onto Sony’s home console.
For a series that thrives on the creativity of its community I certainly wouldn’t have thought a third game would be on the cards. There are already millions of levels in the imagisphere ready to play in a heart beat, what else could you add to give players enough reason to move onto purchase another title? Apparently quite a lot, but at first glance I wasn’t as convinced. Compared to the jump from the first and second titles, LBP3 starts off with more of the same — with floaty mechanics and an ongoing series of Prize Bubbles to collect, it wasn’t long until a worry of repetition set in. But there was no need, as this third title serves up more of a slow burn before it really aims to amaze you.
Over the course of the story it’s a typical heroic adventure, but not overly memorable. New character Newton (voiced by Hugh Laurie) brings you into the world of Bunkum, a creative wonderland wherein an endless amount of content is pumped out by its heart. It wasn’t always like this though, as evil spirits known as the Titans nearly destroyed Bunkum for all its worth but not before certain heroes saved the day. Unfortunately for Newton his lust for creativity gets the better of him and he decides to unleash the evil Titans. With their destructive souls now residing inside him, it’s up to you to travel across numerous areas in search of the lost heroes, so you can save Bunkum and restore creativity back to the world.
After a thorough introduction to LBP via a prologue I was then given three main hubs to explore, each of which housed a hero to awaken. With a mixture of levels and side-quests within each world there’s plenty of reason to explore beyond the main thread of story for added variety. With inspiration clearly pulled from the likes of Portal and Bioshock Infinite, new ways in which to interact with your environment can also be found, with a touch of the circle button to access your Sackpocket. Whether you need to push or pull light items out of the way with the Pumpinator, or boost to higher ledges with your Boost Boots, each addition felt well implemented. The added edge they now give creators will surely be a spectacle to behold once they get to work on new level designs well beyond its launch. In total there are five Sackpocket items, but I’ll leave the other three for you to discover.
Having the extra obstacles to overcome in the story were a joy, but it wasn’t until I got my hands on one of the three new characters that I really fell into the third iteration’s magic. First up was Oddsock who, when on a run, is able to wall jump around each level with ease and at speed. With special material that introduces stretches of unlimited boost I always felt incredibly fast, and the expert level design kept my actions buttery smooth. The challenge to keep up Oddsock’s momentum always kept me focused, though also incredibly tested. I can imagine there will be plenty of players replaying each of his specific levels to try and get a perfect run.
Soon after getting to terms with the speed of Oddsock I had the pleasure of Toggle, who presented quite the opposite, as both a bumbling brute and an adorable pocket companion. With the ability to ‘toggle’ between two sizes, it was great to switch on the move to help him burst through delicate objects or fit through tight spaces. My favourite parts included having to jump through glass objects; using my weight to lower a catapult, turning small to launch up into the air and turning bigger before hitting the object – all ending with a satisfying smash. Using my momentum, coupled with the difference in my two weights, really made getting around as Toggle a huge amount of fun.
Lastly I ended on a high note with Swoop presenting his aerial dynamics. With hardly any location out of Swoop’s reach, the real challenge came in the form of avoiding lethal obstacles whilst traversing each level at high speed. In order to gain an advantage over most of the faster moving levels, dive bombing was key. By pressing R1 I could immediately head into a dive, using the left analogue stick to fully manipulate Swoops movement with ease. It was tricky at first but once I mastered it I was zipping around electrified walls and obstacles like an aerial expert. Not to say I didn’t have my fair share of respawns, they happened A LOT.
I know what you might be thinking, all of this love and nothing to hate? Well, not quite. Unfortunately throughout my experience I encountered multiple game breaking glitches. Whether that included a respawn point not initiating or my profile becoming corrupt, it wasn’t long until my enjoyment turned into anger. Not to mention the fact that every time I opened up my Popit tool the game froze for a noticeable amount of time. Not ideal when the heart and soul of LBP is about accessing your Popit to get creative. I’m more than certain that all these issues will get fixed in future patches, but as a starting experience it was quite jolting.
It’s clear to see the hard work Sumo Digital have put into LBP3 in order to help move the series forward. With the likes of three new characters to mix up the formula for the better, alongside new items to traverse levels like never before, I couldn’t be more pleased with the result. I can’t imagine how much further creators will take levels within the community, but I’m glad the brilliant dev team have been able to provide more limitless creativity within a world that had so much to begin with.
* LittleBigPlanet 3 was provided to Start Replay by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
- + New characters further enhance the LBP formula
- + Gotta love that Sackpocket
- + Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry ooze charm and wit
- - Technical difficulties hamper an otherwise enjoyable experience