I’ve been waiting for a decent racer for a while since playing Mario Kart Wii, and ModNation Racers has definitely filled a hunger I’ve developed since getting rid of my Nintendo Wii. However saying that, ModNation Racers definitely comes with its problems, which for this day and age, doesn’t bode well, but I’ll get to that in a bit.
So what can you expect from United Front Games’ racer? Imagine Mario Kart mixed with Little Big Planet and you’ve got ModNation Racers. The game’s strengths definitely lie with the creation tools as you can really go wild and create your own Mods, Karts and the wildest tracks you can possibly come up with from your cranium.
When you first start the game, you’re thrown straight into qualifiers to get you used to how the karts are controlled and what you can and can’t do. There’s a storyline to the game, albeit very straight forward. Young racer called ‘Tag’ wants to race, he gets himself into the ModNation Racer Circuit and works his way to the top. Before each race there’s a cutscene with the commentators who do come out with some great one liners and add good humour to the game. Even when you’re lining up for the race, they’re still insulting each other about really random things.
The controls are really straight forward as you’d expect from racers like ModNation and helps to jump straight into the game. There are things that you’ll have to practice a few times before you can perfect them, but it doesn’t take long.
Drifting is the major thing you need to learn and learn well, as there are some tracks which can’t be won unless you’re a drifting king. It’s really easy to get used to and you can even change the settings to how responsive your drifts are which is a nice touch as I turned mine down because I was a bit heavy on the analog stick and kept crashing into the walls.
The more you drift the more your boost bar will fill up and it comes in handy when you need to make up for lost time. You can also use your boost to sideswipe fellow racers into walls, off bridges into deep ravines etc to gain the upper hand. Your boost can also be used to activate switches which will open up shortcuts on later tracks which will shave valuable seconds off your lap times.
The AI can be a tad evil at times and you will find yourself getting hit by your enemies right near the finish line, but this adds to the game and makes it a bit more of a challenge. However, if you conserve your boost and don’t waste it all, then you can protect yourself with a shield, but you have to time it right otherwise it’ll run out just before you get hit by other racers. The shield is a good idea as it can get a bit hectic at times, so make sure your boost is always full as you’ll need it.
During races, you’re given certain tasks, such as ‘Finish third’, ‘Get 5000 drift points’ etc. When you complete the tasks you’re rewarded with more items to use when you’re creating your masterpieces. In later races, if you complete all the tasks you unlock a Grudge Match race with one of the racers who you’ll see before the race starts and who usually finishes in 1st place, if you don’t that is, which adds a little bit more longevity to the career mode.
The games real strength lies in the creation tools. You can create new Mods, new Karts and even design your own tracks. You can use different skin types for you Mods, plaster them in stickers, give them helmets, jackets, trousers, shoes whatever you feel like. Your Karts can be sporting some new wing mirrors, skulls, antennas, horns, whatever tickles your fancy. Plus when you do create something, you can upload it for other players to see and use and even tell you how good/bad your designs are.
The ModSpot is where everything can be accessed.Choose to race in career mode, online or mutliplayer. Head over to the Create Station and design new mods, karts and tracks. You’ll also be able to see the best 3 creations of mods and karts which are on a podium for all to see in the ModSpot. News bulletins of upcoming events and buy add ons from the PSN via the ‘Shop Station’ which include new Mods and Karts.
Plus I would have thought new tracks will be along before we know it and maybe even new career modes? Around the tracks in career mode are tokens which can be used to exchange for new items and with 5 on each track, it should keep you occupied for a while.
I love the style of the game, as I like my cartoons so appreciate these type of visuals. It’s just a shame that there can be screen tear every now and then and if there’s too much going on, the refresh rate isn’t the best.
In certain cutscenes, when it’s up close to the characters the textures are quite poor and they have massive jagged edges around their facial features. The scenes with the commentators looks nicely polished for the most part, so it’s a bit odd how they haven’t managed to do this for all scenes.
This is where I thought ModNation Racers could really flourish, but I was a bit disappointed. Load times for games takes a bit too long for my liking and some of the races are a too short. Don’t get me wrong, it is fun and will challenge you more than the career mode as you try to beat Timmy from down the road who has 20 fingers and Jedi reflexes!
Each race will earn you XP and obviously, the higher you finish, the more XP you get and will increase your rank in online races. Each race can have up to 12 racers and only needs a minimum of 4 to get the race started.
Overall, I’ve been impressed with ModNation Racers but because of the stupidly long load times for pretty much everything you do, I’ve knocked my score down a bit. There is meant to be a patch coming out to solve this issue, but it’ll need sorting soon because I found myself getting bored of waiting at times and turning the game off. It takes 2 minutes for the game to actually load up!! It’s a shame because once you’re playing the game, you’ll have great fun.
Loading times aside, I really enjoyed this game and the depth to the creation tools is nothing short of amazing. Races are fun and really push you to drive perfects laps and destroy anyone who gets in your way. If you liked Mario Kart or just looking for something new, then I’d recommend ModNation Racers.
3.5 out of 5
Danny ‘Ender’ Martin has been part of the Zath team from pretty much the very beginning since he met Zath himself at Leeds Met University whilst studying Business IT. He’s an avid gamer and a big film buff. Danny graduated from the University of Bradford with a degree in Computer Animation and SFX and now currently works at one of the biggest UK games developers, which will hopefully see some of his ideas hit the gaming world.