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Out Of Control - Video game reviews and news
2010-06-25 at 10:59

Creative explosion: Modnation delivers the fun

If Nintendo’s Mario Kart fell in love, married and had a child with Sony’s Little Big Planet, they would have given birth to Modnation.

The creativity explosion that is Modnation Racers, a PlayStation 3 exclusive, brings gamers the best of cart racing and couples it with the play-create-share model that made Little Big Planet a success. The result is a great racing game that allows users to do more than just race.

Modnation looks and plays like most cart-racing games. Players accelerate through an entire race, drift through corners and collect weapons to dispose of competitors. Drifting, stunts and other activities give players points toward their power meter that can be used as a shield against oncoming attacks, generate turbo-boost acceleration or side swipe opponents.

The game’s single-player campaign introduces users to Tag, a graffiti artist who might just be the next great cart racer. The career mode takes the player through a variety of different tracks, advancing to the next one only by placing third or better in the previous race.

Completing these tracks and the challenges associated with them allows players to unlock goodies that will help them create their own custom racers, carts and tracks.

Be warned the career mode can be frustratingly difficult at times. No difficulty selection means there’s no easy way out of a jam. On the other hand, if you’re an expert cart racer there’s no way to boost the challenge.

Game at a Glance
: 8/ 10
: E (Everyone)
: Racing

on: PlayStation 3

availablefor: PSP

The career mode can easily be seen as a training ground for what the game is really about – its online features.

Players will visit the various game modes through the game’s Mod Spot, which is a large game menu that presented in the form of a playable gaming area. Instead of scrolling down a list of game options via up and down buttons, a player can drive to those game modes and crash into other players on the way.

Ranked and unranked online races allow players to go head-to-head against the other Modnation user. While load times are a bit of an issue – especially after having to wait a more than a minute to allow players to join and get ready for the race – players can easily move from one race to another without much frustration.

The online races are great no matter what your skill level is. Many races had me, a terrible-to-mediocre cart racer, well behind my opponents while other races had me in a comfortable lead from first lap to last.

The variety of tracks are limited for ranked races. Not being able to select the track you want, or at least giving you only limited control, means racing on the same track several times in a row is a possibility.

Modnation allows players to flex their creative muscles through the Creation Station. Don’t have a lot of creative muscles? That shouldn’t matter. I found it amazing how easy it was to custom make a race cart, racer and even a track without the help of game tutorials.

With limited creativity I was able to make an Edward Scissorhands and Danny Zuko from Grease racer that won accolades from fellow racers.

Creating a track, unlike building a level in Little Big Planet, is easy and user friendly. If you can drive around a track, you can make your own. Using an auto populate feature will give the PlayStation control over the finer details, but you are never forced into accepting that option.

The Modnation community is relatively mature and kind, so sharing your creations will result mostly in positive feedback. I must put emphasis on the term ‘relatively’ when I say the community is mature, as you will always meet the odd player that has to be muted, ignored or even reported.

Overall the flaws of Modnation Racer are few and insignificant, giving it a well-earned 8/10. If you enjoyed Mario Kart but haven’t found a decent racing game since, this is definitely the game for you.

If, however, you are a racing-game fan who doesn’t see the value of creating and sharing than there are probably better options out there.


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