Wednesday, 19 November 2014

LittleBigPlanet3: PS4 Review

LittleBigPlanet3: PS4 Review

Released by Sumo Digital
Platform: PS4

“Create, share – and above all, have fun”

It’s these seven opening words from Stephen Fry’s mellifluous narrator in LittleBigPlanet3 which set the tone for the latest iteration of the game, that defies you not to fall in love with Sackboy all over again.

Taking over from MediaMolecule, Sumo Digital have really seized Sackboy by the scruff of the neck, given him a little shake and scooped up all the goodies which fell out and thrust them on to the PlayStation 4.

With Stephen Fry back in the helm as the narrator, and long time partner Hugh Laurie voicing the baddie, Newton, of the game, it seems as if everything just fits together in this outing.

As the story goes, Sackboy is brought to the world of Bunkum under false premises by Newton. You see, Bunkum’s bereft of creativity after three demons were vanquished by three heroes of old. Newton’s determined to loosen this creativity with Sackboy’s help – however, while Newton’s intentions start off well, his subsequent possession at the hands of the demons doesn’t really help matters and soon he’s hell-bent on destroying Bunkum.

Thankfully though, your little cloth sack friend is back on the scene to try and save the day – only this time, he’s got some friends to help him in the form of Bunkum’s retired heroes.

These are Odd-sock, a lolloping dog like creature that runs up walls; Toggle, a creature that can change size at will to help get into any situation and Swoop, a bird that flies through levels. The trouble is those three have lost their marbles – both literally and figuratively – so Sackboy has to help them recover those first before the heroes can band together and save the day.

Despite moving studio, LittleBigPlanet3 has lost none of the compulsive joy that was so overwhelming in the first two outings; in fact, in some ways, this latest surpasses their magic.

As you’re zipping around levels – either solo or with online friends / co-op buddies (a prompt comes up on every level telling you there are other Sackpeople in the game to join), there’s more than enough to do and see. Using a nifty 3D way of gaming, you can play in the foreground and background by utitlising the bounce pads back and forth. Also, because it’s the next gen console, there’s a lot more scope for side quests as you bump into other citizens of Bunkum – and to keep a track on this, the creators have made the Organiseratron which tracks quests and missions.

There are also some “tools” (as if there’s ever such a thing as weapons in LBP world) to help you get to trickier places and into the nooks and crannies of Bunkum’s world. From a hair-dryer style Pumpinator that sucks and blows to a helmet which attaches to high wires, (all of which can be stored and equipped from your new Sackpocket), the depth of the creativity on screen matches the off-screen community which has created some 9 million worlds for the games.  And Sackboy himself is more versatile than ever, with the little cloth critter being able to scale walls like some kind of fluffy spider being one of his new skills.

Aside from the adventure mode, there’s the creation of levels which is boosted by some 70 new tools, collecta-bells which can be spent in a shop run by a character called Zom Zom and which boost your wardrobe and the ability to use the touch pads on the PS4 as well as the Popit Puzzle Academy where you learn new tricks of the trade and tools to help you through.

That said, LittleBigPlanet3 is not quite perfect. 

I’m hoping the glitches I’ve discovered are simply bugs of the release which will be ironed out with the Day One patch – but in a few cases, Sackboy disappears into solid blocks on screen making movement difficult and also nigh on impossible, meaning a level reset is needed. On a few of the checkpoints early on, Sackboy’s been respawned only not to show on screen, meaning a reset is re-required which is a frustration.

The biggest issue I’ve faced so far though is the loading times; there seems to be an unholy amount of time spent with the waiting screen to move on its merry way to let you get to the gorgeously created and beautifully sumptuous platforming world within.  And there’s no consistency either – these wait screens seem to crop up sporadically and will put a crimp in the play time you invest in the game.

It seems churlish to pick out a few bugs on a game that’s essentially so joyful and creative
(I’m planning to get another post done once the community really kicks in for this game and starts to take it to their heart) but it's fair to say there are a few here and there.

At its core, Sackboy’s latest LittleBigPlanet3 is eminently playable, cutely addictive and a massively welcome addition to the next generation of gaming – if you’re serious about platforming, love fun in any form in the gaming world, then LittleBigPlanet3 is an essential purchase, a mirthful mix of cute, creative and downright enjoyable fun for the kids of whatever age.


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