|System: PS3, PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: United Front Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SONY||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: May 25, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1 (12 Online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Other than the questionable power-up/shield system, this is a racer gamers are bound to enjoy. During the single-player career, finishing one, two, or three is only for beginners. There are multi-tiered in-race challenges that you'll want to beat if you're a more seasoned gamer. Opening up these challenges can often be quite difficult, but gamers are nicely rewarded for their efforts with new customization items, characters, and rides. This multi-tiered objective-based system was an immense addition to the racing that changed the way certain tracks are raced by virtue of having a distinct end game. This also leads to greater replay value.
Of course, playing alone is only part of any great kart racer's appeal. The multiplayer side of ModNation Racers is exceptionally well done. For starters, the online realm is a great way to challenge your skills against others. Competition really ramps up once you hit the tracks against people you don't know. Getting matched to people is a breeze, and participating in races is never interrupted by poor connections. Perhaps more importantly, the team at United Front Games also included local split-screen competition. Now I know many gamers out there don't care much for losing visual real estate to a companion, but for anyone that cut their teeth on Mario Kart, they will be glad they can still jaw with friends on the couch. Both online and local co-op options are really well done.
Rather than just focusing on great tracks, quality controls, and splendid multiplayer racing, the developers also have created robust customization tools across the board that should keep a lot of gamers happy. I've already discussed the excellent track creator, but players can also trick out their rides and characters. Here, too, the tools for tuning karts and turning heads are very user-friendly. Best of all, the end results are great, letting you create fun, personalized ways to win. As you advance through the game, new items will become available to you including stickers, props, fashion pieces, helmets, gloves, spoilers, tires, hood ornaments, etc. You can also purchase premium goods through the PSN, but the game already comes with hundreds of unlockable goodies that are more than enough to satisfy the majority of gamers out there.
In terms of presentation, the game looks and sounds quite good. The tracks, in particular, are sharp and creative. Also, though I personally didn't like the character designs, they definitely have a lot of personality, especially once users get at them. One minor visual issue that does crop up is that head gear is often obscured by hairstyles that extend beyond them (not a big deal, but it does look a bit silly). The sounds of racing are nicely captured, and the background music is varied, professionally composed, and fits well with the diversely themed tracks. I wasn't a big fan of the dialogue tidbits, however. Throughout the career mode you'll be presented with short clips that are supposed to be humorous but fall flat either due to poor voice acting or, as is more often the case, bad writing. Also, the sarcastic tone of the entire MRC series is a bit boorish and crude. The last presentation hiccup is the extensive and lengthy loading screens that constantly crop up - this game definitely suffers from loading issues.
ModNation Racers is not only an extremely competent racer that any aficionado of the genre will enjoy, it also boasts a lot of non-racing, creative outlets that extend the life of the game, help build community, and even make the time spent more rewarding. However, if you're really just looking for racing, you're going to miss out on roughly half of the game's appeal. As such, I can't recommend this title over other kart racers out there based strictly on pure racing. However, if you're a Sony owner with a creative bent and have been waiting for a great multiplayer racing experience, ModNation Racers is certainly the way to go.
CCC Editor / News Director