As you would expect, each of the levels takes advantage of the region they are located in. You'll see kangaroos in Australia, Chinese-style dragons in the Orient and even beautiful starlets in Hollywood. The levels are gorgeous, even if they can't quite match the level of polish found in the PlayStation 3 original. They are also long, sometimes taking five or ten minutes to complete. And chances are you won't find all of the orbs and stickers the first time through, giving you more than enough reason to go back and try each of the levels a second or third time.
Of course, anybody that has even heard of LittleBigPlanet already knows that the pre-loaded levels are only half the fun. The whole idea is to create your own levels and share them with friends. And what if you don't have any friends? Don't worry, because you can always upload them to the LittleBigPlanet server where others can download and rate your masterpieces. And if you're not the creative type, there are plenty of levels already on the server worth downloading. Some of these online levels are just as (if not more) creative as the pre-loaded levels, and many of them offer gameplay ideas that were not broached in the original game.
Creating levels is also a fun and exciting way to waste a lot of time. The level editor gives you a blank room and a floating Sackboy. From there you get to lay down items, change up the backgrounds, add stickers and so on so forth. Best of all, you can create a lot of different gameplay styles, from the traditional 2D platformer to a classic shoot-em-up. There's so much available to you in this mode that it's almost overwhelming at first. Actually, it's overwhelming no matter what. The idea of creating your own levels can be daunting, especially if you don't have much experience at that kind of thing. I'm not sure I'll ever become a master level designer, so I'm certainly thankfully that there are other, better designers already uploading their stages.
While the game doesn't feature any kind of multiplayer component (not even offline Ad Hoc), you are able to share levels back and forth between friends. Best of all, the new levels are integrated into the game, so it's not like you have to go into some special menu far away from the standard game. I can't wait until the game starts getting in the hands of gamers, that's when all of the truly interesting levels will be uploaded. As far as I'm concerned, LittleBigPlanet has an almost unlimited amount of replay.
The game's presentation is also first rate. While the graphics aren't as refined as those found on the PlayStation 3, they certainly hold up better than I thought they would going in. The animation is extremely smooth and there's a ton of details in every level. The only real knock I have is that some of the graphics have rough edges, but that's no different from what you would see in PlayStation 2 games. The game's visuals are definitely striking, though the real star of the show comes from the physics engine.
LittleBigPlanet also features an incredible soundtrack, full of atmospheric tunes that sound like they came directly from the PlayStation 3 game. Best of all, Stephen Fry returns to narrate this portable LittleBigPlanet. I don't know what is it about his soft, soothing voice, but there's something about him that fits this game perfectly. He can read just about anything and keep me captivated. If anything, there isn't enough Stephen Fry in this game. But then, part of me really wishes he would just be talking throughout the whole game. Of course, that's never going to happen, so I'll just have to settle for a few lines here and there and a bunch of incredible music to pass the time.
Given that this is my first real taste of LittleBigPlanet, I can honestly say that I'm impressed with what Cambridge Studio has been able to accomplish. The concept was sound, but what this studio has done is create a fantastic portable game out of the blueprints handed over by Media Molecule. Fans of the PlayStation 3 version may miss the four-player online mode, but I can't imagine that it will ruin this otherwise stellar experience. With solid gameplay, incredible graphics, tons of free downloadable levels, a robust level creator and, of course, Stephen Fry, you would be hard pressed to find a better game released on the PSP this year. LittleBigPlanet is an essential release, definitely one of my favorite games of the year.
Regardless of whether you're new to the franchise or a seasoned veteran, LittleBigPlanet is one of the best games on the Sony PSP. It sports incredible graphics, tons of free downloadable levels, a robust level creator and, of course, Stephen Fry. This is one game I can see myself playing for years to come!
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