The Road to Bunkum: LittleBigPlanet 3 Review

We swooped, toggled and oddsocked our way through the latest title.

LittleBigPlanet 3 — ZAM's Review

LittleBigPlanet 3 brings Sackboy to the PlayStation 4 console for the first time. Sumo Digital is the primary developer of the title, with series creator Media Molecule still involved but in a lesser capacity. The game is out now in North America and will be hitting the shelves on November 26th in the EU.

It was refreshing to see that the game kept the same charm as previous entries in the series. Humor is abound, themes are rampant and the unexpected will always happen. Your sackperson still hasn't learned how to talk, and all is right in our world.

Unfortunately for world of Bunkum, trouble is afoot. After a brief prologue from the narrator (voiced by Stephen Fry) to get familiar with basic movement, your character is introduced to the planet by Newton (voiced by Hugh Laurie). Things quickly go awry, tea boxes are opened, and there's only one thing a little sackperson can do: locate Swoop, Toggle and Oddsock.

In a series first, Swoop, Toggle and Oddsock add three new playable sackthings that you can play as. It's not as easy as jumping directly into the game and having them immediately available. You'll have to traverse words and solve levels to unlock each of the new characters. Unfortunately these characters aren't used very much once they're unlocked (though you can freely swap to them within the hub you unlocked them in and your pod), and you'll still spend most of your time as your sackperson.

These new sackthings each have their unique abilities and movements. Swoop is a bird which can fly, carry light objects with its talons while in flight, and also swoops to navigate tricky situations. Toggle also lives up to its namesake; you can use the bigger version to weigh down pressure platforms, sink in water or push over heavy objects. The lighter version of Toggle can float, run quickly and jump high, and sproing up from the platforms that the big Toggle has pushed down. Finally there's Oddsock, who runs quickly, can jump between walls and also slides fast down longer walls.

Your sackperson is not to be outshined by these new characters, though. Not only can you now climb wall grates, but another addition is a sackpocket which holds powerups that give your sackperson interesting abilities. Use the Hook Hat to zipline on bars or the Pumpinator to manipulate which direction blue foam blocks are pushed. Purchase enough items with the new in-game collectabells currency at Zum Zum's shop and you'll unlock a very fun magical item to add to your sackpocket.

The adventure levels offer a challenging platforming experience that LittleBigPlanet players have come to expect. The use of physics is once again quite masterful, and there are co-op side puzzles for you and 2-4 friends to enjoy (though there didn't seem to be as many as I recall from previous titles). I had my husband join me in playing for a while, and after we were done slapping each other around the pod, we tackled some levels plus x2 player challenges. The series remains always infinitely more fun with friends!

As much as I've adored all of the LBP titles to date, I'm honestly not the best platformer out there. I really enjoyed all of the new powerups, but the level where you obtain the boots nearly had me at wits end. After three full runs of the level I finally completed it, and somehow my controller survived being bashed onto the bed several times. Precision is key in some of the levels, and if you're not on the top of your game, you might find quite the challenge ahead of you.

While exploring the main world hubs, you'll run into other denizens who have smaller challenges for your to embark on. These side adventures aren't part of the main story but they provide you with additional gameplay options. As you progress further in the game it's always nice to return to earlier levels, as chances are there are more items and secrets you can find within.

Contraption Challenges (such as the triangle racer in the above video) introduce the merging of Create mode into Adventure. While you're in Manglewood Swamp and Bunkum Lagoon you can enter one of these challenges and try your hand at building the best contraption out there using your Popit menu.

If that's not enough gameplay for you, there's still the Community levels (including LBP and LBP2 ones), where you can hop into player-made adventures. Choose one of the Team Picks or browse the huge selection of levels. If you'd like to try your hand at making your own, check out the Create tutorials on the site and access "My Moon" from your pod computer to get started. If you'd rather have an interactive method of learning to Create you can check out the new Popit Puzzle Academy from your pod and complete the puzzle levels available there.

The game did show its share of bugs, but a day one patch seems to address most of the ones we experienced. My husband and I played a bit tonight after installing the day one patch, and while the previous issues appear to be fixed, we still did bump into a glitch (which was just a brief oddity and had no impact on play) and a different level-stalling bug. Both are difficult to reproduce and the launch won't be 100% pristine, but with so many new moving parts added to the series, some wonkiness was bound to happen.

LittleBigPlanet 3 lives up to its namesake and proudly takes the series forward onto the PlayStation 4 (it's available on the PS3 as well). It's definitely not a pushover and has hours of fun (though sometimes frustrating) challenges to embark on. From the start you can expect a great cast of well-voiced NPCs, a great soundtrack and wonderful aesthetic. The game is worth grabbing, especially for its Create and Community features (check out the Tower of Swoop!), but make sure you keep it up-to-date.

Ann "Cyliena" Hosler, Managing Editor


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