Wednesday, November 3, 2010

ModNation Racers (PS3) Review

ModNation Racers was a game that came out for both the PlayStation 3 as well as the PlayStation Portable. The following review covers the PS3 portion of the game. This was another game that missed out on a proper review time due to my hiatus. I shall rectify that now with this all-new review.

Mod This!

The kart racing genre is full of competition. It all started with Mario Kart, but now we've got Sonic and SEGA All-Stars Racing, Crash Team Racing, Diddy Kong Racing, and now Sony's go at the genre with ModNation Racers. Does ModNation Racers dethrone the current champion Mario Kart, or does it need to pull in for a much needed pit stop?

ModNation Racers takes you from a low-class racer with no sponsor to a world class champion in the career mode. Along the way you'll meet friends, enemies, and characters plotting your immediate failure. As you play through the career mode, there's various goals to try out other than the traditional become first or lose rules such as not hitting a wall during a lap, pulling off a set amount of spin points, or zipping across a certain quota of boost plates. Beating these challenges will reward you with special vehicles parts and fancy stickers to stick to your kart. There's also many rivals to take out which will give you the opportunity to race them one-on-one in a test to see who's the best.

A victim of the infamous crusher.

The central nervous system of ModNation Racers is the ModSpot where it all happens. You can perform Quick Races either with up to twelve racers online or four player split-screen. You can worship the top karts and mods (mods are the characters you race as and against) of the day as well as pick between the top created tracks made by other mods online. There's also the ability to enter a time trial, customize your kart, mod, or create a track in the Creation Station. While you play around in the ModSpot, and if you're currently online, other miscellaneous players will be driving along through the ModSpot to chat and message.

The Creation Station is where it all happens creation-wise. You can create custom mods, karts, and tracks with ease. You can alter the eyes, nose, and mouth of your mod, plaster stickers on him to create designs, and tinker till you can't tinker your mod no more. Karts are also a blast to customize. You pick a model to start with (more models unlock as you play through the career mode). Then just like with the mod, you plaster stickers and swap in and out parts to create a kart that will strike fear in the other hearts of mods... or just make it cute pink with ribbons. Either way you're good.

Then comes the track design. Building a racing circuit has never been easier. You begin by driving around an empty field all the while paving the track. These track pieces can be edited to be narrowed or widened with a click of a button. As soon as you link the beginning of the track to the end, you've created your track. But a track without obstacles or challenge is no fun. There's a myriad of different obstacles to place along your track such as giant crushers that flatten any mod silly enough to enter under them, fire barrels that explode on contact, and gates that open and close in an intermittent fashion. You can also create hills to make your track more interesting, create bodies of water, flood the entire area save for your track, and make valleys. If you're not satisfied with how empty your track still looks you can place scenery on the outskirts of your track. Houses, trees, bushes, wildlife, sheep, mills, etc. are there for you to make your track shine even more brightly. Or if you're lazy you can have the game fill in the scenery for you. In any case, track-building with ModNation Racers is a piece of cake, and with multiple themes to choose from, no two tracks will be the same.

Create your track your way.

There's no point in creating tracks if you can't race on them as well as twenty-five pre-made tracks from the career mode. ModNation Racers is fairly beginner-friendly. As you perform powerslides around corners and turns as well as other feats such as sideswiping a challenger or drafting behind a foe, your boost gauge goes up. In turn you can either use whatever juice is left in your boost gauge to boost past rival racers or store it up to fend of enemy attacks. Items are plentiful and just like in Diddy Kong Racing, the more item boxes you hit, the stronger your item attack will be. There's homing missiles, lightning bolts, sonic booms, plus many more to unleash onto your racing rivals. The racing feels tight and well-executed. It's a lot of fun to blaze through a track full-speed to get that perfect run.

Last in the standings but first in our hearts.

Presentation-wise, ModNation Racers is a mixed bag. The game looks gorgeous in SD and even better in pure HD. The penalty for that are the excessively long loading times that pop everywhere within the game. We're talking 30-45 seconds of loading here, folks. Meanwhile, it's very cool to see the ModNation Racing Championship as the backdrop for the game. The banter between Biff and Gary is oftentimes hilarious between career races, and the often commenting crew chief during races gets you in the mood to ride. Some might find him annoying, I find him talkative and endearing. Complementing the audio is an above average soundtrack full of rock and funk music.

"Watch out. Coming through!"

Overall, ModNation Racers is a great kart racer that doesn't quite beat out the reigning champion, Mario Kart, but it does hold its own in the genre, technological problems aside. There's plenty of tracks to be raced on with a bustling community creating thousands each day, the balls-to-the-wall challenging career mode to accomplish, the several goals in each career race to complete, creating your own mods, karts, and tracks, and racing online with friends or locally with a few close buddies. This racer roars onto the track, and has other games eating its dust.

[SuperPhillip Says: 8.75/10]

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