Little Big Planet has lost its creativity, or perhaps it's just that we're getting old. Ironically the game's story also deals with some of these issues. It's still fun play, but somehow it feels like the creative juices were all spent on Little Big Planet 2, and there were none left for part three.
The imaginary world of Bunkum has been sucked dry of innovation, so it's Sackboy and his pals who have to bring joy back to this world. The game is divided into stages, and after completing each you get one of Sackboy's friends to join your expanding team. There are also new gadgets in the toy box, which range from the sucking and blowing Pumpinator, to a secret-revealing flashlight. There's also a list of adventures that you can attend to in lieu of the main quest, but we found the list unnecessary.
As for the characters, Sackboy is still the same with his heavy jumping physics and numerous costumes. But this time you can also play as some of his friends, who are all different from one another. There's the quick and agile Oddsock, the size-changing Toggle, and the flying Swoop. Each of them is fun to play in their own right, and their introductory levels give a good indication of their special abilities. Oddsock's levels are fast and the ones closest to "pure" platforming, while Toggle can find alternate paths to proceed by changing his size. Swoop can, on the other hand, reach places that other characters can't. He can also pick up other characters (the only exception for this is Toggle).
The level design is not as good here as it is in the previous games. Yes, you can try changing your approach via the character's different abilities, but everything feels pretty unimaginative. The levels of the first two games were composed of simple elements, which were used in ingenious ways, but here we don't see any of that. The levels are built out of disconnected features, and they don't have a coherent feel to them. There's also a huge amount of collectibles to be found everywhere. On the other hand, there's plenty of things to mess around with if you want to build your own levels.
The series has always been a bit problematic regarding the depth perception of the levels, and the problem is even greater this time around. It can be really hard to grasp the different levels found in the various environments.
We don't consider visuals to be a hugely important in this sort of game, but LBP3 could still use some added punch in its presentation. We only tested the PS4 version, but judging from videos the game looks almost identical on both PS4 and PS3. Many of the leves lack the colourful playfulness of the previous games, and they seem pretty dark thanks to the new colour palette.
The game is also voice acted throughout, although that's not an entirely positive thing. Some of the characters are really dull, and they just ramble on for too long about things that don't have any significant value or that aren't even funny or entertaining. On the other hand, Stephen Fry is still an excellent choice for the Narrator.
From a technical point of view the review build had some issues. Loading times were long, animations were sometimes all over the place, and character models had some glitches. Luckily there weren't any game-breaking bugs. We also couldn't test the multiplayer, so we can't comment on that just yet.
This review might seem a bit negative, but that's because we had such high hopes for the game. However, it seems that changing the development team has had a pretty big impact. The game has moved away from the great use of assets, to a state where they've just slung everything in a big box, shaken it up, and hoped that what's in there at the end works. It's still a fun game to play with friends, but it's not the new-gen update and spectacle we expected or were hoping for.