Game Review: ModNation Racers
Release: May 25, 2010
Genre: Kart Racing
Developer: United Front Games
Available Platforms: PS3, PSP (This review was written based on the PS3 version)
Players: 1-4 (Local) 1-12 (Online)
ESRB Rating: Everyone (Cartoon Violence, Comic Mischief)
If you’re a kart racing fan and dislike both the Wii and Sonic and Sega All Stars Racing, this must be your lucky day; as United Front Games and SCE‘s latest creation can be defined in just one word: Awesome. ModNation Racers is not a Mario Kart ripoff, but a new, fresh and ultimately fantastic experience.
ModNation Racers is a fun and well done kart racer that is part of the “Play, Create, Share” series of games. As such, you’ll be able to enjoy the great 28 tracks included in the career, create tons of tracks, characters and cars; and publish your creations so the world can download them and play with them. With the exception of a couple of issues, all this aspects work flawlessly, making ModNation Racers probably the best kart racer ever.
ModNation Racers delivers one of the most engaging racing experiences in years. The actual driving is pretty tight, with very precise controls and an appropriate button map. While driving, besides accelerating, you have three aspects that really enhance the whole experience and set the bar in terms of gameplay. First, when you get a weapon you can upgrade it by hitting more prize bubbles; so you can choose if you want to fire a single missile, or wait a little and commit genocide by firing a million homing missiles. Second, as usual in this kind of games, you can drift. In MNR, drifting perfectly fills a bar that lets you use a turbo, which proves to be integral and extremely useful when in the last challenges and playing online. Third, the shield. Some purists would think implementing a shield in a game like this would spoil the experience. It doesn’t. Using the shield depletes the turbo bar almost instantly, so you’ll have to time it carefully.
In general, the driving in MNR is almost perfect, and it’s a must buy just for its gameplay, but fortunately, the game has a huge lot more.
For solo enthusiasts, the game offers a very entertaining career mode. It consists of a series of chapters, with challenges within. At first, these challenges seem pretty easy, but they can become really, really challenging. Fortunately the game never becomes frustrating and yet it manages to keep you interested with a clever achievement system, and some hidden goodies for you to find. All of this is complemented with the addition of a couple of hilarious TV hosts and well done cutscenes that tell a very funny and entertaining story (where your Mod is the main character).
If online play is your thing, ModNation Racers does everything to satisfy you, as its online component is unbelievable robust. You’ll spend a good amount of time in the ModSpot, which is consistently online, and where you’ll be able to interact with players from all over the world, chat with them, and download their mods, tracks and cars. Additionally, you can host ranked and casual sessions. These matches can be arranged in a variety of ways, such as single races, or series, playing on disc-based or downloaded tracks; you can even create a split screen session for both local and online multiplayer mayhem.
The last major component in the game is the “Create” aspect, which is quite possibly the greatest addition to MNR. Inside the Create Station, you can use your imagination to create awesome characters, cars and tracks, as well as download other people’s creations. The options available here are vast and complex, but, unlike Little Big Planet’s overly difficult level creation system, ModNation Racer is incredibly easy to use. You’ll make tracks in no more than 15 minutes, and they’ll look as good as if they were included in the disc. There are already thousands of awesome items to download, and it really shows how versatile and brilliant MNR‘s interface really is.
The whole package is presented in an elegant way, the ModSpot is brilliant, the visuals are pretty sharp and well designed, running at a steady 60fps, and the graphic and character design are as appropriate as they can get, but the game still has flaws. You see, load times are abysmal. Seriously, loading a race can take you almost a minute, and it really damages an otherwise fluid experience. In addition, I experienced some problems when trying to connect to my friend’s sessions; specially those whose console’s language is different than yours. I have a lot of friends with their PS3s in Spanish, and I was completely unable to join their sessions until we all had our consoles in the same language.
Julian’s conclusion: Even with its flaws (one of them is probably going to be fixed in the coming days), ModNation Racers is a must-buy. Even if you’re not a kart racing enthusiast, I can assure you you’ll find something to like within the industrial amount of content you’ll get both from the disc, and its servers. So stop reading and go buy the game now!