ModNation Racers promises players the ability to create, race, and share their own tracks with the world. With the demo you could create tracks choosing from one of four themes (village, desert, seaside, and jungle). Creating the track is as simple as driving the track builder across the empty field much like you'd be driving in the game. When you complete a circuit, you have the option of having the game automatically fill your track with props, trees, and other obstacles. Those wanting more control of their track-building experience will want to put them in themselves, and it's easy as pie to do so. Currently, you could race on the tracks as a test, but you couldn't share them in the demo... obviously. However, a future update promises that any tracks or mods made in the demo can be transferred over to the finished product. Pretty cool if you ask me. Which you are, or else why would you be reading these impressions?
Racing reminds me of a cross between Crash Team Racing and Diddy Kong Racing. You grab weapons via item pods. These weapons can be powered up by collecting another item pod. Do it a third time, and you have one powerful item to unleash on your opponents! ModNation uses a drift mechanic that earns you juice in your boost gauge. You also earn juice by drafting behind an opponent or side-swiping them. This gauge can either be used to perform a nitro boost for a limited amount of time or draw up a shield, protecting players from projectiles. Here comes some strategy. Do you use the boost to get ahead of the pack, or do you use a shield to dodge rockets and other weaponry?
At this point in time, the framerate is noticeably improved from the beta, but the load times are brutal. The developer, United Front, promises a patch for this problem as it is one heck of an inconvenience. Additionally, rubberband AI runs rampant in this game feeling more like Mario Kart Wii in this regard. I barely could scrounge up second or third place in a given race. Despite these problems, ModNation Racers seems to be a great treat for kart racing fans and an excellent alternative to Sonic and SEGA All-Stars Racing.
Next up is a character that hasn't been seen since the Super Nintendo/SEGA Genesis days, it's Sparkster from Rocket Knight Adventures. This time he's back in glorious HD for $14.99 on XBLA and PSN. It's Rocket Knight!
Rocket Knight is a pure platformer at heart. Instead of jumping on heads, our hero slashes enemies with his sword, shoots out fire from his blade, and uses his jetpack to temporarily boost up to higher, otherwise inaccessible platforms. There were just two levels in the demo, and both played differently. Similarly though, they both took me around six minutes each to complete. The first level was your traditional run, jump, boost, and slash gaming action. In each level there were a bountiful amount of gems to collect. The real fun is trying collect everything there is to find in a given level. This can be rather tricky as some levels are multi-tiered and full of clever hiding places.
The second level was like a shoot-em-up. You scrolled automatically to the right, dodging enemy fire, blasting baddies, and collecting gems and other worthwhile tokens. I found this level quite challenging, and I even lost a life. Thankfully, there's an abundant amount of checkpoints to be found, so dying seldom has you losing too much of your progress. At the conclusion of the demo, I fought a doppelganger nemesis of Sparkster. The battle was pretty routine, but it didn't stop the fight from being fun. A cliffhanger ending concluded the demo.
I really dug the visuals. They're colorful, crisp, and appropriately cartoony. There's nothing in the way of slowdown, so I think Climax did a wonderful job prepping this entertaining demo of the game. Would I shell out fifteen bucks for the game? I don't know. I'm waiting on impressions on how long the game is. If I do happen to purchase it, you can be sure I'll have a review up shortly!