Videogame review: LittleBigPlanet3, by Sumo Digital
There's a certain class of video game that lends itself well to the Christmas holiday: simple, for-all-ages adventures that are ideally played alongside others, as you veg out for entire afternoons with helpings of turkey leftovers, season-themed chocolates and the cheeky glass of wine. LittleBigPlanet 3 is this year's festive favourite.
Through its zany, surreal adventures and endless possibilities for creation, the series has built up a loyal fan-base. And even though the long-awaited third entry for the PS4 and PS3 comes to us from a different developer, Sumo Digital rather than Media Molecule, the balance between an adventure-filled story mode and the ability to mess around with your world is still strong.
Long-time fans of the series will immediately notice that LBP3 feels more like a fully formed game than before, complete with its own somewhat traditional narrative - but that's not a bad thing. There's a certain retro charm to the game's main stages, an early Nintendo-like innocence where attention to detail and a wondrous sense of exploration combine to turn an otherwise ordinary platform adventure into something uniquely amusing.
Much of that is due to the world of Bunkum, an imaginative place filled with new abilities and power-ups, and to the three new playable characters. Alongside the classic protagonist Sackboy, gamers are introduced to Oddsock, Toggle and Swoop, each imbued with a heavy set of speed-based powers that make the levels a breeze-through and feel all that much faster.
It all leads up, though, to what makes the series stand out: the content creation side of the game. LittleBigPlanet has always added a creative approach to the classic platformer, giving players hands-on abilities where other games would simply restrict. LBP3 is less of a toy-box than before, but from the get-go, you're still given the means to mess around. Hidden stages allow you to stitch together outlandish items, such as your own racing kart made of ice skates, tennis balls and balloons.
LittleBigPlanet 3 doesn't offer much new to the series - in fact, for veterans of the franchise, it may feel like a step back in its heavier focus on adventure over creation. But the focus here seems to be on new players: on the child-like thrill of opening a fresh game on Christmas morning, slipping it into the console and being given an enormous world to explore and invent.