LittleBigPlanet 3 review copies have arrived, and we're beavering away on our LBP3 review. It won't be ready for tomorrow's 5am embargo (still got to fully test out the Create mode), but the preview coverage (click here for everything you need to know about LBP 3 ahead of launch) has reinforced a notion that I've held ever since the PS4 launched a year ago -- this is exactly the sort of game that the PS4 needs this Christmas.
A year on from the PS4's launch, and we'll be reflecting more on the first year of Sony and Microsoft's new-gen consoles (the second for the Wii U) over the next week or two, and it's easy to see that Sony got pretty much everything right with their console. The message was bang on, with Sony capitalising massively on Microsoft's U-turns and blustered, botched communication. #ThisIsForThePlayers came the rallying cry from the PlayStation camp, and the consumer audience across the world stood up, took notice, and voted with their wallets.
To look at the bare facts, the PS4 was cheaper, more powerful, and more clearly focused on gaming -- a no-frills games console that wanted to do one thing, and do it well. But in sorting everything out on the console end of things, Sony rather forgot about their own games.
I wrote an article a couple of weeks back saying that, for the second Christmas running, the Xbox One had the more attractive games lineup. I say that as a PS4 owner, jealously appraising the exclusives in Halo: MCC, Sunset Overdrive, and Forza Horizon, having seen that Assassin's Creed: Unity actually runs better on Xbox One (though that's not exactly saying much).
Enter LittleBigPlanet 3.
See, for all of those exclusives, it's the third-party titles that are really going to be ruling the roost this Christmas, from FIFA 15 to Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, from Far Cry 4 to Dragon Age: Inquisition. But in amongst them all will be an ageless game, one that contains 9 million levels of user-generated content straight out of the box for free, boasting a new Create mode that's more accessible than ever. Something that can be enjoyed by children and adults alike, played offline or online, it's longevity fuelled by the powerful creation systems at its core, allowing for a vast plethora of different game types, spread across an ever-unfurling, infinite horizon.
We called LittleBigPlanet Vita "the last Vita game you'll ever need", and we weren't lying, such is the depth that lies at the heart of the game, and we couldn't wait to have that potential brought to life once more on PS4. Here's something we said in our E3 predictions this year, before LBP 3 was officially announced:
Sumo Digital's Vita effort was absolutely outstanding, and the PS4 could really use a game of that ilk to not only provide an ageless exclusive that isn't Knack, but also to present a game (or even a service) that revolves around user-generated content and takes full advantage of the PS4's sharing capabilities.
To unpack the first point is to note that truly family friendly games have been mainly limited to third-party offerings on PS4 thus far. The LEGO titles and Disney Infinity 2.0 have helped, but when you have a company like Sony, with properties like Crash Bandicoot, Jak and Daxter, Puppeteer, and Ratchet and Clank, not to mention LittleBigPlanet itself, it's been a shame to see a year go by without a release like that. It's worth pointing out that Insomniac were given a fat bundle of cash by Microsoft, and that Naughty Dog have been busy in other areas, but Sony aren't exactly short on studios.
Thankfully, the wait is practically over, though it'll be interesting to see how LBP performs in an age where we now have Minecraft comfortably on consoles. We've missed Play Create Share this year on PS4, though, and the point about the console's sharing features is more valid than ever before thanks to Update 2.0 (though Sony are yet to confirm whether or not Share Play is currently unavailable because the game is still a week or so away from release). Ultimately, though LittleBigPlanet represents one of the most precious things in the industry, something that has sustained Nintendo, for example, over the years while everything around them has crumbled -- an ageless, universally-loved, critically-acclaimed property that is for everybody, inextricably tethered to Sony's platforms.
Amazon already leaked a PS4 console bundle package that included the game, but it's at a ridiculously high price right now for pre-order, and the bundle listed doesn't appear to include the PlayStation Camera. Sony are still yet to actually formally announce the bundle itself, but they'll need to bring that price down if/when they do. It's the perfect bundle game this winter -- a game that will just keep on giving and, this is worth repeating, with over 9 million levels straight out of the boxes, including new LBP 3 sets made during the game's beta. You'd think that Sony would certainly want to unveil that ahead of Black Friday, which is when LBP 3 actually launches.
Hopefully they'll do that sooner rather than later. Just because you have a Nintendo-esque property doesn't mean you should fail to market it like Nintendo with Super Mario 3D World last Christmas.
Killzone: Shadow Fall was a tech demo; Driveclub has been a disappointment; even Infamous: Second Son, for all of its sandbox fun, is hardly a game you can really love. But LittleBigPlanet? Now we're talking.