PSP Review: ModNation Racers

Is this just a watered down version of the PS3 game?

Having just played and reviewed the PS3 version of ModNation Racers, I was expecting something special from the PSP version. Instead, it’s more of the same…without some of the features and with controls that aren’t user-friendly.

This most comes across in the track editor, which is incredibly awkward to use thanks to the lack of a second analog stick (that the PS3 version used to raise/lower the terrain around you. It’s also a little jumpy with how the track goes forward; I didn’t even really feel that I had that much control over the design other than putting down a few items on the track itself. It’s a shame since the PS3 version thrived on the concept and it doesn’t seem to have translated as well to the handheld.

Customisation remains, but with fewer options and some of them are locked until you do well in the game. I just want to be able to add anything I want to my racer/driver/track without having to go through tons of races just for the privilege of being able to customise. It’s annoying for those with a creative side that just want to get started on designing things, only to come across this gaming equivalent of a brick wall.

Driving is simple and handles well for the most part, although drifting with the left trigger takes some getting used to on the PSP, I ended up going straight into walls or turning around in the wrong direction as a result. It’s not the tightest controls I’ve seen, not by a long shot. It’s still fun on the surface, but there are problems that just hold it back from reaching the same level as its console counterpart.

Online modes are included like racing and sharing, which is decent and unexpected for the handheld version, but I guess it wouldn’t really work without it, since that’s what the game is about. Visually, the game is good for a PSP game, although there are some problems with track backgrounds close-up. Music and cutscenes are taken from the console version so they are the same, for the most part.

The Verdict

The PSP version of ModNation Racers is weaker than that of the PS3’s. It has less substance, control or features that the console version benefited from. It’s still a good game, but it’s hard to recommend when the game is much better on the PS3.