PS3 Review: ModNation Racers

Is this more than Mario Kart meets LittleBigPlanet?

ModNation Racers follows the LBP pattern of create, share and play…but with racing tracks, vehicles and characters. It’s an interesting concept, but does it have what it takes to give Mario a run for his money?

ModNation Racers actually has a small plot where you progress in a racing championship; there are a few cutscenes that are quite humorous with the characters, although it doesn’t really feel necessary to the game. After a bit of practise, you’ll come to the main hub where you drive to areas like customisation, sharing, racing online or trying to get further in the championship. The hub is always connected to online, so you’ll see others cars driving around it alongside you.

The big feature of ModNation Racers is the track editor, which is simply the easiest track editor I’ve ever come across. You simply lay the track down and add all kinds of objects to it like weapons, ramps, different terrain and even things in the background like buildings and trees. You can also change how the sun moves around the track; it’s impressive to say the least. Having seen what people have already made, there are some great creative tools that they are making the most of. Time will tell if it reaches LBP proportions in terms of numbers of content, but it’s looking good.

Customising your character and car is easy, although I’m really surprised with some of the things you can choose. You can even design Mario, Luigi and Toad drivers for the game…how Nintendo aren’t suing the team is beyond even me at this point, especially considering the game plays out like a Mario Kart game. You can also design Old Snake from MGS 4 as well as Ratchet and Clank, but there are a ton of options for gamers to choose from.

Racing itself is pretty straightforward, although the controls are a bit loose and take some getting used to, even for the hardcore Mario Kart crowd. Some races have objectives that you must reach to progress further in the championship like doing a certain amount of drift or hit enemies with weapons so many times, but also win the race. You also have to finish in the top 3, which can be annoying as the AI seems to keep their weapons till the very end of the race to screw you over.

Visually, ModNation Racers is charming in the way it looks…but the framerate is inconsistent at times, especially in the hub. Track designs look the part and when creating them, it does run smoothly. Load times however, can be extremely long at times…at one point I got stuck at 85% for about 2 minutes, no joke. Plus, there’s the immediate patch and install before you start the game. Voice-acting is pretty funny and the music isn’t too bad either.

The Verdict

ModNation Racers is a decent game, but it’s nothing more than Mario Kart with a creative flair. But, it’s the closest PS3 owners will get to play as the king of the kart racers, especially seeing as you can play as him. The creative tools are the game’s best feature, but I’m not sure if it will reach the same levels as LBP in terms of creativity.

1 Comment

  1. I played the demo. Not impressed. Creating the track was really cool. Just not my kind of game I guess.

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