Little Big Planet 3 is a perfect example of how to innovate and move a series forward in bold and exciting directions whilst maintaining what made the previous games so endearing.
Life after Media Molecule could have been a disaster for Little Big Planet 3. The inherent charm and massive amounts of creative control injected into Little Big Planet made it an innovative platformer when it first landed on the Playstation 3 back in 2008. Six years later Media Molecule stepped down, passing the reins over to Sumo Digital. With four playable characters, expanded creative controls and thousands of collectables, Little Big Planet 3 does the series proud, building on what made the previous games so good, even if the single player content is disappointingly short.
Much like the previous games, Little Big Planet 3 splits up into three distinct areas aptly named Play, Create and Share. Play features a campaign mode spanning eight different areas, all aesthetically different and taking full advantage of the new friends alongside the returning stitched teddy from the previous games, Sackboy. This year sees the introduction of three new companions alongside Sackboy and each has a unique personality and game mechanic essential for progression through the levels. Oddsock, a four-legged dog, can run fast up walls inaccessible to the other characters; a bird named Swoop has a useful flying ability; and Toggle, a shape-shifter that can change from giant to small, is largely used for physic puzzles. The new characters add an extra dimension alongside Sackboy and can be changed on a whim with the exception of a few levels. To avoid Sackboy himself stagnating alongside the shiny new characters, he’s given various power ups. The new characters feel like a natural fit in the world and their inclusion innovates the platformer further, allowing for some gameplay not seen in the series before.
Within the single (or co-op) adventure mode are various missions that can be completed in-game. Most of these are simple fetch quests but they do reward some decent material to use in the Create mode. It is worth noting that the game can’t be fully completed to 100% without four players, which is a bit of a shame and definitely an annoyance for those completionists that don’t have three spare controllers to hook up. It’s a minor point but one that isn’t made clear at the start of the game. The actual adventure mode is good though, and features some really innovative uses of the new characters, although it is disappointingly short. There’re enough collectables and the return of acing levels (completing without dying) adds more replayability, which certainly helps.
The bulk of Little Big Planet 3’s play time will inevitably come in the form of its imaginative, creative community. The Create mode allows you to build your own levels and worlds with robust controls and easy to use mechanics. With a bit of time, you can easily make some stunning levels, taking full advantage of the new characters, physics and the ability to shift between five layers rather than three. This level of creativity adds extra depth to an already expansive mode. There are a few tutorials, too, that help in guiding through the process of building levels, but if you’d rather jump straight in to the user-created levels, there’s an unlimited amount of potential here.
The online portion of Little Big Planet has always had an active community that thrives on its user-created levels, and Little Big Planet 3 is no exception. The Share part of the game features some incredible levels and with thousands of different levels and worlds uploaded every day, it’s unsurprising that Sumo Digital have put most of their effort into maintaining the servers and allowing users to create incredible creative masterpieces, even if it is at the expense of a deep single player experience.
Little Big Planet 3 is a perfect example of how to innovate and move a series forward in bold and exciting directions whilst maintaining what made the previous games so endearing. The new gameplay mechanics fit perfectly in this world and even if the adventure mode is disappointingly short, the online portion of the game more than makes up for it with some incredibly creative and innovative levels. In the time I spent playing online the levels ranged from kart racers, Tetris clones, stealth levels paying homage to Splinter Cell and Metal Gear Solid, through to detailed, original levels. Little Big Planet 3 is a great step forward for the series and proves critics wrong, showing there is life after Media Molecule for this charming, creative platform game.