Video Game Review: Create Your Own World in ‘ModNation Racers’

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CHICAGO – Blending the worlds of “Super Mario Kart” and “Little Big Planet,” Sony’s “ModNation Racers” will be the perfect summer title for players who like their racing a little more cartoonish than most speed-based titles and for those who love to make a title their own. Grafting the “LBP” customization and game creation model on to a racing world makes for a unique release that will serve as a length diversion for some but not all. Video Game Rating: 4.0/5.0
Video Game Rating: 4.0/5.0

The drive behind “ModNation Racers” is to give you, the player, control of your racing experience. Instead of merely presenting a clever “Super Mario Kart” experience in which players speed through power-ups, zoom across shortcuts, and generally try to wreak havoc on their competitors, Sony has designed a game in which everything can be under your control. Call it “Super You Kart”.

ModNation Racers
ModNation Racers
Photo credit: Sony

Like most customizable games, the player starts with their avatar and their kart. With hundreds of variations on outfits, haircuts, decals, paint jobs, and anything else you can think of related to cartoon drivers and cars, it’s hard to imagine any two creations will be exactly the same. As the player progresses through career mode, more and more customizable additions become unlocked, creating a title where your driving hero need not look the same every time you take the track.

ModNation Racers
ModNation Racers
Photo credit: Sony

DIY characters and karts are one thing but Sony takes it a step further with “ModNation Racers,” giving the player the editing tools to design their own tracks. With a myriad of options, you can create your own game and share your tracks online. So far, most of the online offerings that I’ve played have been a bit uninspired but it’s not hard to believe that someone could design a track that’s as entertaining as the ones the developers created for career mode. As for the editing system, it’s a remarkably fluid, easy-to-understand interface that encourages players to be creative. As made clear by the title and the focus of the game, the editing and customization is the beating heart of the title and it is undeniably impressive and well-designed.

However, if you’re not that into customization, “ModNation Racers” falls a bit flat at times. Some of the career tracks are frustratingly designed in that they’re simply impossible to win without the right combination of short cuts and power ups. In other words, they’re designed in such a way that the player simply must replay them several times just to learn what they need and where the short cuts are to win. Most of them are beautifully designed, but some will make you wish you could go in and use the editing tool on the career before moving on. The other single-player modes including several race variations feel like afterthoughts. This a game that encourages community play and creativity, not solo racing.

ModNation Racers
ModNation Racers
Photo credit: Sony

With that in mind, “ModNation Racers” is heavy with competitive play with several online modes that encourage sharing your gaming experience in unique, interesting ways. The continuous flow of user-generated content promises to keep the game fresh for the players who fall in love with it, something that can’t be undervalued in a gaming world where people so often complain about not getting enough bang for their hard-earned buck.

If you’re the kind of player who will spend an hour making sure your racing character looks just like you and going through all the possible kart variations to find your favorite, then “ModNation Racers” is likely to be your favorite of the three recently released racing games (with the other two being “Split/Second” and “ModNation Racers”). However, if you like to pick up a driving game and jump right in to an immersive, enjoyable experience, there may be a better choice on another shelf.

The gaming world has been moving closer and closer to a communal experience over the last few years with more co-operative gameplay, deep multiplayer games, and encouragement to share what was once such a solo world with others. “ModNation Racers” could be the future of racing games. Build your own kart and join the crowd at the starting line.

‘ModNation Racers’ was released by Sony Computer Entertainment and developed by United Front Games. It is rated E (Everyone). The title is exclusive to the PS3 and was released on May 25th, 2010. content director Brian Tallerico

Content Director

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