«

»

LittleBigPlanet 3 review for PS4


Platform: PS4
Also On: PS3
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: Sumo Digital/xDev
Medium: Disc/Digital
Players: 1-4
Online: Yes
ESRB: E

Like it or not, LittleBigPlanet 3 was kinda sent to die. Wedged between releases of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Assassin’s Creed Unity, Far Cry 4, Grand Theft Auto V, Super Smash Bros Wii U and a pair of Pokemon 3DS titles, it will surely be overlooked this holiday season. If it were a unique, top tier AAA release like the original LittleBigPlanet (and the sequel to an extent), it would be a shame; unfortunately, as much as I adore the franchise, LBP3 is a game that I suspect not many fans really asked for or expected.

LBP3_1

LittleBigPlanet 3 is still a charming platformer and creative sandbox at heart, yet without the full attention of Media Molecule, it feels like it sorta lost its soul. At first glance you would probably think that you were playing a proper LBP game by the original developers, but it doesn’t take long to realize that it’s not quite up to the same level of polish or whimsical creativity that MM is usually able to whip up. The levels, the story, the music and interface provide for a “LBP-like” experience, although xDev and Sumo Digital can’t quite duplicate the patented Media Molecule magic in LBP3.

I’ve thoroughly completed (and aced) the single player story mode in all of the previous LBP titles including the PSP and PS Vita releases; there’s no way I can see myself doing the same in LittleBigPlanet 3. Even with a trio of new playable characters joining Sackboy (OddSock, Toggle and Swoop), and new abilities/gadgets to play around with, I never felt compelled to 100% the story levels or the optional challenges or quests — or spend much time in the trio of hubs that they are organized around for that matter. The game supports up to 4 local or online players in any combination, except the levels do not lend themselves well to co-op play at all. The story mode is short and fairly frustrating at times with too many one-hit deaths and easy to miss stickers and point bubbles. There are a few super simple puzzles that require a second player (or just a controller), but none that need 3 or 4 players to tackle like in previous games.  Since all players share one set of lives (indicated by the ring around each checkpoint), it is frequently easier to just have other players drop out during a difficult sequence just to avoid replaying the whole level again. By the time you are introduced to all 3 characters, the relatively forgettable story more or less wraps up and ends.

You can of course jump back into any of the levels with the newly unlocked characters to grab the few missing stickers or bubbles, or take on the side-quests, though unless you’re a completionist or a hardcore crafter, there’s no real incentive to do so. I have fond memories of replaying LittleBigPlanet levels over and over again with friends to find that hard to reach sticker or ace a level, and I sadly don’t see that happening much with LBP3.

LBP3_4

That’s not to say the entire story mode is a waste of your time — there are some bright spots including fun and inventive platforming sequences and humorous writing and voice work. Some of the levels are more memorable than others such as a those from the 1950s inspired Manglewood hub which features authentic licensed music including Dodie Steven’s Pink Shoelaces (good luck getting that out of your head).

Of course, only half of the LittleBigPlanet experience is actually playing the pre-made levels. The create and share concept is what the game was built on, and thankfully that still retains its identity – for the most part. LBP3 is backwards compatible with nearly all LBP1 and LBP2 unlockable items and content, and it’s pretty awesome that you can import your profiles from previous games and download/play the 8.5 million or so user created levels. The creative tools, along with the new gamified Popit Puzzles and tutorials do a nice job getting less creative players (like myself) interested in the more creative experiences offered in the series. The tools in the PS4 version are a nice step up from the earlier titles with touch pad integration for resizing and positioning objects and support for recording video clips and attaching them to your custom made adventures. Also new is the ability to create custom power-ups and a weather tool. The browse/search tools are a little lacking, though with 8.5 million pieces of user generated content there’s probably no easy intuitive way to organize it all.

The popit interface still works well, yet it can be occasionally confusing for those who don’t spend time learning about the tools, materials, actions, objects and behaviors. Creative-types can definitely spend countless hours creating and sharing custom adventures and games, and players can reap the benefits by downloading the new content and getting involved in the community – so it’s a win-win.

LBP3_3

LittleBigPlanet 3 is a fine looking game, though not one that frequently screams “next-generation”. The PS3 titles were legitimately impressive back when they were released thanks to the subtle motion blur, filmic effects and interesting rendering techniques. It’s obviously much more difficult to impress gamers with the same basic presentation these days, even with 4 times the texture resolution and some new effects and lighting. The game runs at 30fps in 1080p natively and hardly seems to tax the hardware under most circumstances. LBP3 does have some small issues though, such as rendering/performance quirks with content created in previous LBP games and an annoying delay whenever accessing the popit. With a pre-release patch already out there and a launch day patch scheduled to go live soon, hopefully the experience is polished up. A PS3 version is actually shipping alongside the PS4 game and we assume it looks more or less in-line with LBP2.

I’ll be honest, it kind of hurts to give LittleBigPlanet 3 a less-than-stellar grade since I’ve spent so much time with the franchise. The idea behind Play, Create and Share is still a great one, I’m just not sure if a LittleBigPlanet game is the ideal game to continue the concept and introduce it to a new generation of gamers.

Grade: C+

Little Big Planet 3 Launch Edition – PlayStation 4


Manufacturer: Sony Computer Entertainment
ESRB Rating: Everyone
Platform: PlayStation 4
Genre: adventure-game-genre

New From: $30.00 USD In Stock