LittleBigPlanet was really cool when it first came out in 2008 because it had three “layers” so to speak. Your sackthing could switch between these layers to move through the side-scrolling level. It was a nice way to upgrade the age old way of playing a 2D video game. Another one of LBP’s strengths is the art value, integrating textures and combining art styles within stickers and level props. What they’ve done in this version of the game is added a secondary layer that your character can jump to or use other items to slide into, so essentially you have two main pathways with 2-3 layers in each (or maybe just two, I’m only onto the second act or so in the game). I like the way this adds depth to an already interesting series of levels.

They’ve also added some interesting new angles of gameplay – whether you’re picking up a totally different character to run through a level at an aerial view, or building a race car and racing another character, there’s a slew of new ways to play the game. Inside the game. It’s just miraculous.

The game interface differs slightly in this version as well. You still have your “Popit” where your stickers and personalization tools are kept, as well as where your explody-sackthing-tool resides. What they’ve added on the nary-used circle and triangle buttons are two new menus, a quest tracker and a tool-keeper. In past games for tools, you would typically run over a platform to pick up the tool and it would disappear within the level once you don’t need it anymore. In LBP3, you can access all your tools at any given time, which adds to the puzzle-solving aspect of the game, and convenience for level building later on. One less platform to account for, and if I remember correctly you would have a limited radius in which you could use the tool as well. The quest tracker reminds me of World of Warcraft in the way that you can highlight a quest and it will give you a pointer on the side of your screen to direct you to where the quest’s next step is located. Either way, both of these little menus were a nice update to the game and made sense to be where they are.

So one thing I appreciated about the last game was the fun they had with the names – Larry Da Vinci or Dr. Higginbotham. The new game certainly does not disappoint with the play-on-phrase names like Papal Mache, Newton or Marlon Random. While most kids who are playing won’t make some of the connections, the older crowd can appreciate the nuances.

But let’s not forget about the 3 new playable characters in the game – Oddsock, Toggle and Swoop. I’ve currently only unlocked the first two, but they’re a blast to play with. Oddsock is adorable and fast, his strengths being to run up walls and wall jump. Toggle can literally “toggle” between a larger or smaller self, able to break through walls or run into small spaces, launch himself through different layers and be an overall badass. Swoop is a bird, so I’m gonna take a guess that he can fly through other levels, which could be pretty OP depending on how they handle it.

Something that I was pretty unhappy with in LBP2 was the story mode – or lack thereof. I blew through the story mode within a week or so of buying it, and I was left wanting so much more. I understand the game is geared towards more of a “create-it-yourself” crowd, where the community levels are often better than the actual story mode levels, but I enjoy the unlockables and the perfecting of the game, so the fact that there wasn’t too terribly much to go back to made me fairly disappointed.

LBP3 does not disappoint. I’ve already put in roughly 6-8 hours of gameplay and I already find myself wanting to go back to levels for things I’ve missed, but there’s still so much story line ahead of me as well. The levels are also set up a little differently, where they have “storybooks” of levels. A main world that will take you to levels inside it as you unlock them or find them through discovery. Even in this main world you can pick up prize bubbles.

Something else I’m looking forward to is the other “modes” they have going on in this game. From what I’ve gathered (I’ve only really dabbled in story mode thus far), they’ve created a mode encouraging people to play through levels by using the building tools to keep moving through. If that’s the case, I think that’s a great integration of what the second cool part of this game is, which I tend to not touch because I don’t have any amazing level-ideas. I’ll let you know if I’m totally off the mark.

Trying to find a game that makes you want to play with others, I personally think is hard. With any of the new Mario franchises (Kart, Super Smash, or World) you find characters you’re familiar with, and worlds or enemies that have been recreated time and time again to save the princess (I think? She wants to be saved – right?) LittleBigPlanet has a great way of getting others involved, so much so that I want to grab my husband or someone to come and play with me while I play through any and every level. The teamwork is interesting – I’ve found that this game overall is a bit more challenging than the last with boss fights and level complexity, which lends itself to longer game play and more interesting replay value. The same goes for the x2, x3 or x4 player puzzles, bridging on something that more Portal 2-esque within reason. The new tools that you’re given in this game make the puzzles something to think about instead of a straightforward one person jump on a switch and another stand on a platform.

So at this point I’ve gotten 4/5 of the new sack-toys in my arsenal. Props to the interface of the game making them easy to access too. I think the tools in this game so far are pretty hilarious (the pumpinator – it blows and sucks!), but also very clever (the illuminator – shine light on something seemingly flat to make it come to life). I really like that there are levels I’m playing through and seeing the icons for other tools that I didn’t have at the time, so I’m even more encouraged to go back and see how I can get those prize bubbles. It’s like when you finally get double jump in some game and can reach all the spots you couldn’t before hand. So satisfying.