Its more than a kart racer, its an entire nation of Mod
If it aint broke don't fix it. And with Sony Computer entertainment's infamous "Play, Create, Share" formula put to good use once again you're left with what is, for all intents and purposes, the LittleBigPlanet of kart-racing. Now before you start assuming that this is simply Mario Kart for the PS3 and you'll only be doing repetitive Grand Prixs down Rainbow road all day there's a little more to ModNation than meets the eye that will have you coming back for more.
...Or at least coming back for some pretty sweet copyright infringing mods.
The Big PictureThe main plot of the game is the ModNation Racing Championship (MRC), a T.V. show revolving around Kart racing with its two hosts, Biff Tradwell and Gary Reasons, who frequently clash egos in a humorous way for the most part. Although, there will be the occasional bad pun or joke that causes you to wince in pain. (but that goes without saying for any pair of sports hosts.) You assume the role of a newcomer nicknamed Tag and as a typical newbie to the MRC scene you're determined to rise through the ranks and take down the big wigs along the way such as the infamous Espresso who practically looks like a whacked out version of Hitler with well.... a little bit too much espresso in his system.
Also, keep in mind that even though your character (or Mod as they are referred to) is the default version of Tag in the beginning of the game, you can customize him entirely just like any other mod you can think up or download so if you're not a fan of the emo kart racing silent protagonist you have the choice to shape him (or her) in your own twisted image.
GameplayAs mentioned before, ModNation Racers has similar principals to LittleBigPlanet so even though there's a single-player campaign that you can dive right into you'd be only seeing about 1/4th of what the game has to offer. The main attraction to ModNation is its user friendly creator system which leaves no basses uncovered spanning from creating characters, tracks, to even pimping out your own ride to whatever you see fit. But I could yammer on and on about the creating topic so here are some quick to read major points in the Gameplay system to sooth your mind with:
- The mechanic of the power-ups found on the courses work out the same way they did in Diddy Kong Racing. There are about three tiers to each power-up, the first one being the weakest and usually resulting in a minor single attack, whereas by the third tier players can cause a devastating attack that normally attacks multiple opponents.
- An Interesting twist to the game is your boost meeter which can be filled by either drifting or pulling of stylish moves while gaining gnarly air. Now even though that has a tiny resemblance to Sonic Riders in the eyes of some, ModNation adds a little bit of variety to it. Not only can you use your boost meeter to well...boost...you can also chose to use it as a shield once an oncoming attack is nearing you. Although it can be difficult to determine just how far back the attack is or nailing the timing just right.
- ModNation offers both single player and Multiplayer. Up to four people can play on one console via offline split-screen mode. There is also online multiplayer through the PlayStation Network holding up to 12 players which features all the bells and whistles from matchmaking to leaderboards and more.
- The track creator is actually fun and allows you to create any kind of ridiculous course without too much hassle. You can even make your own course completely unbeatable by placing anything in the middle of your track's road, yet I don't think you'll be scoring top fave on the download station anytime soon with something like that.
- Speaking of downloading, the create and share community in ModNation is fantastic. About 90% of the things I searched by text for were actually there and on top of that if you haven't earned some of the items or articles of clothing the mod you want to download has you can still download it without worry. User created Karts, Characters, and Tracks can all be downloaded for free and within minutes. Anything downloaded can be edited and changed so you can add your own flavor to it.
- The kart and Mod creator are also easy to use and give a high sense of customizability and style. You can even decide to trick out your kart so much that you're driving a cardboard box. And let me tell you, a hobo would be proud
- The cutscenes that include your character/Mod can be pretty entertaining, along with the random commercials MRC throws in here and there.
- High sense of customizability in every field. Sony's "Race, Create, Share" is a spot on blueprint for fun. Designing tracks has never been so rewarding.
- The sharing community is incredible and extremely creative. Having the ability to have your own creations submitted for the world to use and rate is terrific, although not new, still can give you a sense of pride if you earn the honor of top mod.
- The Auto populate feature when building a track that makes any kid on the block look like a pro when it comes to designing the next mayhem inducing course.
The Not-so Great:
- First time players can find ModNation a little challenging along with the fact that courses have an immense amount of shortcuts causing things to get a bit frustrating.
- Even though the main lobby is another element that reflects Diddy Kong Racing, where you have to drive to your destinations, it feels a bit impracticable that you can't just avoid having to go to the lobby every time you finish a race. Sure you can use a pop-up menu but you'll inevitably end up in the lobby regardless.
- The main lobby can get a bit laggy when loading everything in.
The Things That aren't great at all and just leave a bad taste in your mouth:
- The load times for single player career mode can start to drive even the most patient person bonkers.
- If you don't have internet access you're missing out on a whole other world of fun which is kind of disappointing.
- Sometimes racers (the AI) can just continuously bombard you with missiles or power-ups which can foul up the mood of a good time with friends.