The game revolves around the ModNation Racing Championship (MRC), a television program based on kart racing, hosted by the very arrogant Biff Tradwell and the statistic pro Gary Reasons. The player takes the role of a newbie, nicknamed Tag, who just arrived in the MRC. The story follows Tag's progression through the Rookie ranks all the way up though the battles with the seasoned champions such as Drillbit, Skidplate, Espresso, and more.
ModNation Racers gives the power of creation to players, allowing them to create characters, karts, and racetracks. It is the second game in the "Play, Create, Share" range that Sony Computer Entertainment
started with LittleBigPlanet
ModNation Racers features easy creation tools in the game's Track Studio, Character Studio, and Kart Studio, allowing the player to design and create their own tracks, characters, and karts (respectively) in minutes. The track creator also has an "Auto-Populate" feature, which adds visual features, such as trees and buildings, as well as gameplay features like boost pads, to your track automatically. Additionally, all in-game assets were created using these tools. Combat racing with power-ups is also employed for offensive, combat-style driving, as is typical in the Kart racing genre, pioneered by Nintendo
's Mario Kart
series. Although there are only 4, these power-ups can be upgraded twice, by simply collecting another power-up, to make for an even deadlier weapon.
After creating their tracks, players can share them on the PlayStation Network
. After downloading and trying tracks, players can rate tracks, allowing other users to see which tracks are most popular. Players are able to download and play every level created by other players. Also, if a player downloads a track, they can "remix it" with a bit of their own style and re-upload it, sharing it with the community.
The game features the aforementioned story campaign, single player and multiplayer modes via the PlayStation Network with up to 12 players, featuring matchmaking, leaderboards, friends list management, communication tools, and more. There is also split screen offline multiplayer for up to 4 players.
ModNation Racers characters (called Mods) sport a vinyl style similar to the Munny figures. Progression through the career campaign unlocks items that can then be used to further customize your Mods, Karts, or Tracks creations. These items are not only
unlocked based upon progression, but also tied to certain achievements tied to individual races. This adds a bit of re-playability to the career campaign, although some of these challenges can require quite a bit of skill.
Offense vs. Defense
For a slight change of pace from most cart racing games, ModNation Racers gives players a "boost meter" along with the ability to use it in multiple ways. Performing stylish activities such as drifting or spinning during a mid-air jump will fill your meter, but you can choose to use it for a speed boost, or hold onto it to use as an on-demand shield to protect against attacks from other racers. This encourages racers in the lead to actively build up their boost meter so they can protect that 1st place finish come the final lap. You can also use the right analogue stick to bump your carts into other players forcing them to crash into walls or slow down, this adds a risk - reward mechanic as if you miss your opponent you suffer a slowdown yourself.
Weapon Leveling System
ModNation Racers features a leveling system for the weapons, wherein after the initial pick-up of a weapon orb, subsequent acquisition of more orbs will power-up the currently held weapon up to 3 times. Acquired weapons can also be dropped as mines behind the racer to thwart other players, the leveling system also comes into play here -- as the more leveled the weapon is, the longer the mine will stay on the track without disappearing.
| Missile attack (Level 1)||Non homing, straight shot missile. Bounces off of walls a max of two times before exploding.|
| Missile attack (Level 2)||Three homing missiles that target the racer one place ahead of you.|
| Missile attack (Level 3)||A cluster of over 15 homing missiles that target every racer ahead of you.|
| Supersonic attack (Level 1)||A blast of supersonic energy emits from under your cart, striking any cart very close to you.|
| Supersonic attack (Level 2)||3 powerful, non homing spheres shoot from the front of your cart, with a limited distance.|
| Supersonic attack (Level 3)||A large, non homing single sphere barrels down the entire track devastating anything in its way.|
| Bolt attack (Level 1)||A straight shot, single electric bolt that does not bounce off of walls.|
| Bolt attack (Level 2)||A single, homing electric bolt that targets the racer one place ahead of you.|
| Bolt attack (Level 3)||Emits a missile that shoots into the sky, then subsequently rains down a lightning strike on every racer ahead of you.|
| Speed boost (Level 1)||Produces a short lived, but power burst of speed.|
| Speed boost (Level 2)||A much longer lasting burst of speed.|
| Speed boost (Level 3)||Creates a portal directly in front of the racer, which when driven into teleports the player ahead in the standings anywhere from 0-11 places.|
Winning isn't everything
Additionally, the achievement challenges that are tied to item unlocks extend well beyond the expected "Finish the race in 1st place." In some cases, you might be asked to avoid hitting any walls for an entire lap (or entire race) while simultaneously coming in 1st place. The more difficult challenges don't prevent progression through your career, but add significant challenge above and beyond the simple "don't lose" goals that are typically found in other cart racing games.
Experience (XP) and Leveling System
There are two ways to gain online levels in ModNation Racers, getting Race XP and Create XP. Race XP is gained by participating in XP Races and XP Series (a five race tournament with extra bonus Race XP at the end for each player depending on finishing position). Create XP is gained by uploading creations of Mods (the characters), Karts and Tracks, more Create XP is gained by having your creations downloaded, rated and remixed. Both of these methods of gaining XP contribute to an overall ranking level-up system, each level requires a larger amount of XP to reach the next level.
MNR starts up in the "ModSpot" which is the game's unique interactive lobby. It is a fully drivable area where you access the Creation Station, Top Mods, Top Karts, Race Station and much more. When connected online, you will be joined by other players practicing their drifting, showing off their creations, or checking out all of the cool user material available. When offline, you will be joined by a few bots that drive around and fill up some space.
Playstation 3 Game Installation
Modnation Racers requires 3.2 GB of space to be installed on a Playstaion 3 HDD.