There was perhaps a feeling that with LittleBigPlanet 2 Media Molecule had extracted just about everything the concept had to offer, which might explain why the announcement of a third proper game in the series was met with only a ripple of applause, rather than an explosion of rampant fanboyism.
Sumo Digital, taking the reins from Media Molecule, quickly dispelled that notion with its E3 2014 announcement trailer, which featured no less than four, different, playable characters, each with unique, game-changing skills.
You can see that trailer below, and read on for our thoughts on the next-gen debut of Sackboy and his new chums.
New faces, new larks
It may at first seem like a bit of a gimmick, but having four different characters with completely different skills and roles has a profound effect on the gameplay experience, and turns LittleBigPlanet from a distracting party game to a simple-yet-deep, hilarious-but-challenging co-op lark.
A new level of co-operation is required here – Sackboy has to blast doors open for the others to get through, Toggle can reach otherwise inaccessible areas when in his small mode, and Swoop can carry the other characters across chasms or to higher platforms. Screwing about is still hilarious, of course, but if you want to get stuff done you’re going to need to work together at some point – something that wasn’t necessarily true in the previous games in the series.
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More after the break...
8.7 million levels - and that's just the start
The new abilities of the different characters has allowed Sumo to be way more ambitious with its level design, and thanks to the power of PS4 those levels can now be far bigger (and prettier, of course).
Of course, this is LittleBigPlanet, which means community content is just as important as what comes in the box, and now players can take advantage of the bigger levels, too. Where once you were limited to three depth planes there are now 16, and system memory is no longer a constraint. Huge, sprawling player-created maps are very much on the agenda, and they can even include quests.
Even more incredible is that every single map that’s already been created for LittleBigPlanet 1 and 2 will be available in LittleBigPlanet 3 in graphically upscaled form at launch. That’s 8.7 million levels. Good luck running out of stuff to do.
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LittleBigPlanet 3 - Initial Verdict
The departure of Media Molecule from the series may have initially seemed like a Bad Thing, but the truth is that LittleBigPlanet needs a bit of a kick up the backside if it’s going to be relevant when it hits PS4.
With those new, game-changing and co-op-enhancing characters and almost limitless options for level-creators, Sumo Digital seems to be providing exactly the right kick. We weren’t expecting to be as excited about a new LittleBigPlanet as we now are.
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