Published on July 5th, 2010 | by prime3
ModNation Racers – Review
Summary: It’s the best kart racer since Mario Kart
Being beaten to the finish line the first time you go online with the course you’ve poured hours into creating. It’s one of the most deflating, soul-destroying sensations we’ve ever experienced here at Game Uber, as we unsuccessfully attempt to find the option to ban the guy who throttled us from ever racing on our track again. We’re lost for words. We know the track like the back of our hand; we extensively play tested it; we know exactly where each boost pad is placed, where each item pod is waiting and how to drift around each corner; we created it for god’s sake.
Yet bizarrely, that gut-wrenching feeling is met by one of sheer satisfaction. Other people are racing around our creation alongside us, rating it and commenting on it. Perhaps this could be the one that will gain us stardom in ModSpot, ModNation’s hub filled with podiums of the world’s most popular user-generated tracks, mods and karts that seamlessly bridges each game mode and menu, or featured on forums the world over.
Achievement and ingenuity, then, is something developers United Front Games are all too keen to see recognized in ModNation Racers. Yet, with the game being the studio’s first title, reward and recognition is perhaps something that would be better lauded at the team itself. They’ve created a stunning kart racer here, obviously inspired by genre king Mario Kart, but, unlike the majority of other kart racers on the market today, superbly polished and with enough of its own innovations to avoid appearing like another also-ran.
The weapons may be generic, but unlike other kart racers, you can level them up.
First and foremost is Creation Station, an extension on Sony’s Play, Create, Share moniker that allows you to create your own tracks, racers and karts via incredibly intuitive and easy-to-use toolsets, before publishing them to PSN for others to download.
Creating your own kart and racer is simple, utilizing a similar system to LBP’s Popit menu, while laying down track is as simple as driving a cement mixer around a vast open space, tilting the elevation with the right stick, and reversing backwards to undo any mistakes. At its most basic level it’s a wonderfully simple opportunity for the most inexperienced user to boost the number of tracks available to them, with the option to auto-populate their track with boost pads, item pods and scenery making it possible to have a great track up and running in minutes. But an incredible amount of depth lies in wait of those willing to put the hours into creating something a little more special, right down to subtly tweaking turns and altering specific terrain. Just don’t go expecting some of the more mind-bending creations seen in LittleBigPlanet; options to create in ModNation are rooted firmly within the realms of racing.
When you do want to settle down for some races, the game’s career is surprisingly worthy of your time, refusing to sidle up to genre standards by moving away from the usual cup structure seen in your typical kart racer. Instead it’s a proper campaign, trekking the career of an up-and-coming racer looking to achieve victory in the ModNation Racing Championship. Races are broken down into various series, and bonus Creation Station items are awarded for achieving certain objectives, such as drafting behind racers for a certain amount of time or collecting a set number of item pods. Multiplayer too, is insanely fun and the online infrastructure is seamless, instantly allowing you to jump directly into an online casual or ranked race. You’re even able to play online with a local friend via a split-screen option, a feature often overlooked by the majority of racers.
But that’s ModNation Racers in a nutshell. It’s a kart racer that dares to tread outside of conventionality, using its inspirations effectively to deliver a highly polished, best-in-class experience full of charm and personality, and the best kart racer since Mario Kart.
ModNation’s very own sackboys are slightly less visible than the karts they’re driving during a race, but you’ll still be able to bundle personality into your creations. And there are plenty of fun Mods already out there. At the time of writing, a version of quiz show host Buzz and Kill Bill’s The Bride were two of the top downloads at ModSpot.
Layer on the stickers and trap on some sexy rims for your beasty wagon, which you can customize whichever way you want to. When on the track remember to use some strategy, as drifting builds up your boost bar, but you can also use the energy as a shield to deflect incoming attacks.
If you can drive forward, you can create a track in ModNation Racers. ModNation’s track builder is even more intuitive than LittleBigPlanet’s level creator, and thanks to the auto-populate option, which automatically pops scenery onto your track, you can have a good-looking course up and running in minutes.