ModNation Racers for the PSP is the portable counterpart of the console version under the same name. Take the kart based gameplay from games like Mario Kart and add it with the expansive options that the “Play, Create, Share” style shown in LittleBigPlanet brought us and you’ll have an idea of what this game is all about. With this in mind the game will be presenting players with an extremely customizable and personal experience in this racing genre which hasn’t seen much innovation in a long time. Of course you will be able to take part in a scripted career mode, but as with LBP the game truly shines in its customization and community.
ModNation Racers contains some very addicting mechanics. During the first few races, which mainly act as tutorials, the game might seem overly simplistic. Give yourself some time to get a few races under your belt and you’ll soon realize that there’s more depth present than originally meets the eye. The basic controls apply here: R1 is accelerate, L1 to brake/reverse, Square activates weapons/power ups and the analog stick to control the kart. The simplicity ends there. X can be used to hop (even Super Hop) over obstacles, drift around corners or as a setup to slam down on your opponents. Circle creates a shield around your kart to protect against incoming attacks. If you have built up enough turbo through accomplishing feats like doing a perfect lap or hitting other racers, then you can press triangle to use it to boost ahead. The D-pad has its uses as well. Left and right cause your kart to slam into karts on either side and the down button can be used along with the hop button to jump onto your adversaries. Both of these result in “Takedowns”.
As with all racing games the basis of ModNation Racers revolves around coming in 1st by any means necessary. This involves combining the use of weapons and turbo. Weapons range from missles to mines to electric discharges. It isn’t as simple as pressing square however. Some of these will need to be aimed precisely. Turbo is always a welcome addition whether you need to make it to the front of the pact or you just want to increase the distance between you and the racer in 2nd place. Turbo is acquired in numerous ways. Perfect laps are the most affective since your reward is a full turbo bar. Other options include drifting, drafting, rotations mid-air and taking out other racers. These are only a few of the options available to you to help your chances in reaching that gold spot on the podium.
There are different ways to race. Players looking to dominate through straight skill should check out Pure Race. In this mode power-ups are not present so it comes down to the accumulation of turbo and strategic use of boost as its gained. Last Kart Standing acts as an elimination style race so staying ahead of the others is crucial, even if it means playing dirty. Action Race is probably the most common since you’ll be racing around the track with boosts and weapon pick-ups present. If you’re horrible at making decisions, then give Career a try. You’re put behind the wheel as an aspiring racer named Tag. Tag enters the ModNation Racing Championship Circuit. Races gradually progress from qualifying races to the championship. Not to mention this unlocks the extensive lists of customizable options the game has to offer. This is accompanied by humorous banter during the races and hilarious spoofs during cinematics. Gamers of all types will find something suitable for their interests here.
Following in the footsteps of LittleBigPlanet, ModNation Racers’ main interests lay in the hands of the player. Customization is heavily present throughout the game. Sure you could go into the game and race in preset courses with preset racers in preset karts, but where’s the fun in that? You won’t be changing up the outfit of a Sackboy this time around however. “Mods” have replaced them. You’ll be able to create your racer from the ground up. The character customization really steps it up in comparison to LBP. Just to give you an idea of what you will be faced with here’s a list of the number of options for your avatar:
– 455 Eyes (two different eyes can be chosen for insane looks)
-103 Ears (two different types can be chosen for each side of the head)
-40 Types of Hair
-13 Types of Facial Hair
This list is only part of the “Head” option. You still have clothes, voice, skin and a category labeled “Odds ‘N Ends” to explore. That’s not including the various colors and patterns you can choose on top of your items. The number of options can feel a tad overwhelming and it is easy to get lost in the character customization alone for over half an hour during your first time.
Head to the Kart Studio and you’ll be able to trick our your ride. Maybe you’re feeling like a tuner. How about a muscle car? Or break from the ordinary and put on a bi-plane body. There are 40 styles total to choose from under standard and unique bodies. Don’t forget to pimp your ride with decals and special types of engines. The look of your car is entirely up to you.
Customizing who and what you race with is fun and all, but what about creating what you race on? You’ll be able to pick from different backdrops that reflect specific environments. Once you’ve made that decision you’re ready to pave the very road you’ll be competing on. R1 moves your car forward and the road is paved behind you. Guide the car however you like and it will lay the track in whatever design you like. If you’ve messed up don’t worry. L1 puts the car into reverse and erases the track. Also, there’s an auto-complete feature which is used by pressing triangle. This will be a much used tool for those wanting to make something themselves without spending all day doing so. After your track has reached back around to the finish line you’re ready to place props, change the look of the sky, paint the track and deform the terrain. Tracks, mods and karts can all be uploaded to share or downloaded to add to your collection. Much like LBP excelled in doing the community is the strongest point in the game and it really relies on the user to help it succeed. If the community is anything like LBP’s, then there’s no doubt in my mind that it will do exceptionally well.
Awkward Camera Angles
The game is entertaining as any racing game, but the camera can cause issues from time to time. This becomes especially frustrating when you try to land after some nice hang time. The camera randomly faces against your racer causing him to pivot and look toward the oncoming opponents. It can be the difference between first and last in many cases since the AI is usually hot on your tail. During my play time this didn’t occur too often, but enough to make me realize a potential problem some gamers might run into.
ModNation Racers brings the same insane amount of customization as LittleBigPlanet to the kart racing genre. The options available to the player are outstanding and overwhelming (in a good way). The community continues to be the backbone of the “Play, Create, Share” line of games and it is doing better than ever. Although the game has a camera issue it can be overlooked due to the sheer amount of content the players will be absorbed in during their playtime. It doesn’t matter if you are a player or a creator there is definitely something to be found here. This is a wonderful addition to the PSP library so don’t miss out.ModNation Racers PSP Review,