The latest in the critically acclaimed, and irresistibly adorable, franchise of LittleBigPlanet has arrived to much anticipation, but will the newest installment in the series have a breakout debut on next gen consoles?
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New Studio, New Friends: Put in the fiery forges of the development studio Sumo Digital, an indie studio that has worked primarily on party games and racing titles in the past, this long running but generally unknown team took the reins from Media Molecule, were was responsible for the adorable cookie that was baked for LittleBigPlanet and LittleBigPlanet 2.This new studio put their creative touch onto LBP3 and the result of their innovation on the series is the inclusion of three other friends to accompany the prolific Sackboy on his adventures. The story revolves around Newton, an egotistical and untalented wannabe creator who unleashed three evil titans into world of LittleBigPlanet, with the plot taking place on a new planet in the universe called Bunkum. In order to stop the titans and stifle the maladroit Newton, voiced splendidly by Hugh Laurie, the little sackperson known as Sackboy must recruit the help of three legendary heroes who will join him on this adventure. Predictably, the legendary heroes are none other than the other playable characters you will control over the course of the fight. Oddsock, a four legged, quick maneuvering dog, Swoop, a ... well he's just a bird, and Toggle, a much larger version of Sackboy who can also shrink himself down to miniscule size and in doing so re-dubs himself "Little Toggle". Each character brings a certain dynamic and talent to the table. Oddsock is the most notable of which, as he excels at precision jumping and the ability to run up walls and remedy a common problem in past LBP games: landing where you want him to! Oddsock is put to good use for being able to be sharply maneuvered without infuriatingly misjudging the distance of some of the jumps you would normally perform with Sackboy. Coming in second in the "how useful am I?" competition, Toggle adds weight and balance dynamics to his levels. Alternating between Big Toggle, who can weigh down things and obviously pick up objects as the juggernaut he is, and Little Toggle, who can fit into tiny spaces that no other character can. Bringing up the rear is the bird, Swoop. As you may expect, Swoop can pick up things and carry them around, adding flight into the mix as well. While the other two characters are quite memorable (I think people would enjoy having an Oddsock on their desk), there is something to be said about the generally modest role Swoop plays in your mind. Even when using Swoop, I have little doubt you may aspire to be playing as Sackboy, Oddsock or Toggle.
Friends? Where Are You Friends?: All that being said, LittleBigPlanet 3 is a bit of a misrepresentation of what you may have expected coming into this title, if you had seen the marketing pushes leading up to its launch. While trailers and E3 showings displayed all four characters working in unison over the course of a level, the reality is that you could very well go through the entire campaign without having all four on screen at once.The story missions are broken up via little hubs that contain your missions, and within those hubs are hidden, discoverable levels that are not mandatory to play. Some of these tucked away levels put to use all of the miniature heroes at your disposal and make the best use of the cooperative play, with a different person playing as a different character. Throughout the main storyline however, you will almost always be playing singularly as Sackboy. Not a bad thing in any right, as the amiable little melding of stuffing and stitching is a continuously beloved character, but the lack of attention the other characters receive feels like a missed opportunity here. Each Oddsock, Toggle and Swoop have some levels of their own, with a boss battle that they undertake by themselves as well as a final boss battle in which every character is swapped between to defeat the villain. However, the limited use of the character in the Adventure (campaign) mode and more notably the cooperative modes make it seem as though the debuting characters simply do not matter.
A Creative Wonderland: As is normally the case for LittleBigPlanet, the meat and potatoes, bread and butter, steak and wine of the title revolves around the seemingly endless creative possibilities at your disposal when wanting to add to the deeply populated Craftworld.Crafting levels and taking advantage of the creations of others is where this title shines, and the limited creativity displayed in the Adventure mode is made up for in bounds with the online aspect of the game. Unlike past games where only three layers could be used in a level, you will now have access to 16 layers and far deeper, more flexible options with which to splatter your creative output onto the blank canvas. A very notable feature of LBP3 is the fact that, from launch day, you will have full access to every level that was created for LittleBigplanet 1 and 2. Millions of levels are within reach and you would sooner die of old age before you scraped the surface of the immeasurably populated Craftworld.
I Brokeded: That being said, there are some issues abound that rear their head, some in the campaign and some due to the optimistic transfer of every user-created level in past LittleBigPlanet titles into this latest iteration.Menu buttons disappearing, random slowdown (aka lag) even if only one other player is joining you and occasionally the respawns in the level would arbitrarily stop working. Perhaps most noticeable though is the trouble that is seen when trying to play levels created on previous LittleBigPlanet titles on LBP3. Finding yourself stuck on, hitting or touching parts of the environment you were never meant to be near is a common occurrence. It is not quite game-breaking in the traditional sense, but the optimization of the levels from the first two games into LittleBigPlanet 3 could have been smoother, although I believe Sumo Digital deserves an abundance of credit for pulling off the feat in any case.
Rent vs. Buy: LittleBigPlanet 3 revolves around user-created content, as it always has and always will. The Adventure mode is predictably a bit limited in terms of creativity, as history has shown there are many gamers out there that should probably be employed as creative designers by some gaming companies, but spend their time crafting levels for your ungrateful ass to enjoy.LBP3 suffers from some issues, not least of which is the limited use and missed opportunity of utilizing Oddsock, Toggle and Swoop in a more prominent spotlight. That being said, the appeal and charm of the series has not ran out just yet, and whether a creator or somebody who simply enjoys the creations of others, there is an abundance of content to keep you coming back to LittleBigPlanet 3 so long as you have a functioning internet connection.
The appeal and charm of the series has not ran out just yet, and whether a creator or somebody who simply enjoys the creations of others, there is an abundance of content to keep you coming back to LittleBigPlanet 3 so long as you have a functioning internet connection.(Krakrabbit.com)
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