One of Sony’s more successful exclusive franchises is Little Big Planet, which made its name with the ultra cool SackBoy mascot and the robust video game design tools that allowed fledgling developers to create their own games and share them with the world. Media Molecule’s hit went on to spawn a sequel on the PS3, and now the franchise is coming to the PS4 courtesy of Sumo Digital who has taken over the reigns for the upcoming sequel Little Big Planet 3. The game was shown off at Sony’s E3 2014 press event and wowed the crowd with the introduction of three new characters, and for the fact that the on stage presenters had issues controlling the characters during the demo. Presser issues aside the game did look marvelous, and it will surely excite fans of the franchise who have been waiting for a Little Big Planet experience on the PS4.
During the show I got some hands-on time with the game and played it with two Sumo Digital developers and a friend to get the full 4-player co-op experience. The demo itself was the exact same demo that was played on stage at Sony’s event, and luckily we didn’t encounter the control issues that the presenters did. As a side note I mentioned the press demo to the Sumo guys and I guess what happened was that there was a delay between the controls and the TV because of the way the game was streamed to the stage, so the issues you saw weren’t game issues, nor were they due to the presenters not knowing how to play a video game.
Anyway, back to the hands-on demo of Little Big Planet 3. The first thing I noticed was the charming visuals and character design. SackBoy is stellar looking as usual, but Toggle, OddSock, and Swoop definitely give his cuteness factor a run for its money. I love the textured design as it truly does make each character look like a sewing project that came to life.
The characters look fantastic, but the levels are even more impressive. Sumo has employed a design tactic that adds multiple layers of depth to the levels, so rather than just playing on a flat side-scrolling plane, you can take your characters into the background and then bring them back to the foreground, which really opens up the level design and exploration. This design lends itself well to LBP 3’s platforming gameplay, and I couldn’t help but just stand still and appreciate the intricate weaving of platforms, ramps, and other simple machines that SackBoy and his buds can interact with in the environment. The art design and level layout are just simply stunning.
The gameplay itself is pretty straight forward and feels like the previous LBP games and other platformers. Each character has a jump and a special ability, with the latter being needed to work in tandem with the other Sack creatures to solve puzzles and progress the group from point A to point B. SackBoy can use a fan-like device to blow open hanging platforms, or to get a wheel to start spinning to unlock another area for the group to move to. OddSock, the character I controlled, is a master of jumping and can scale walls like a ninja by jumping back and forth like Shinobi. Toggle, who could be potentially end up being everyone’s favorite new character, can transform himself into a small little hulk, or a larger heavier version to get into nooks and crannies, or to push down weights to open doors. Swoop, the final new character, has the ability to fly and can hoist the three other characters to new heights like a Coast Guard chopper saving a crabber on the Bering Sea.
Once our four man team got the controls down we set out in search of the level’s end. I found controlling OddSock to be a great platforming experience thanks to his/her ability to bounce up walls like Spider-Man. It’s very easy to bounce back and forth to reach heights that the other characters can’t, and OddSock definitely feels like he/she has a bit more speed to his movements.
Controlling this squirrel looking character was fun by itself, but the true joy in playing LBP 3 is playing in tandem with three other players. Each of the character’s abilities must be used in conjunction with the other characters to get by even the most simple of puzzles. For example, we encountered a blocked path that could only be opened by SackBoy’s fan gun. Once he opened the door I was able to scale the walls with OddSock to hit a button that created a ramp for SackBoy to walk up. This also unlocked Swoop to use who had to pick up Toggle with his flying ability to elevate him to the area that we all needed to get to. As you can see the puzzle gameplay becomes a symphony of teamwork, which really bonds the players together due to the communication needed to work as a team. There’s a real sense of accomplishment when the four players work together, which is something that has been lost in modern co-op games, so it’s great to know that teamwork is at the forefront of LBP 3’s gameplay model.
The demo was very short, but in that time it was easy to see that LBP 3 will make for a very fun co-op game to play with friends locally or online. The cutesy visuals are amazingly detailed, and each of the character models are beautiful to look at. The feeling of working as a team is a blast, and required, which is why this game will suit gamers that like to play co-op games. I only got to play the campaign mode of Little Big Planet 3, and that’s just one small aspect of this game, because like the previous LBP games it will also allow gamers to create their own levels and full video games for that matter with its easy to use creation tools.
Based on my short experience with LBP 3 I definitely want to get my hands on it this November when it releases for the PS4. It will also release for the PS3, but a window for that version hasn’t been given yet. If you enjoyed the previous two entries in this franchise you’ll definitely want to check out SackBoy and his new friends this fall.
If you have any questions in particular please use the comment section below and I’ll do my best to get back to you with an answer if I have one.
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