|System: PS3, PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: SCE San Diego||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|
by Andrew Groen
As one of the franchises Sony is banking their future on, ModNation Racers has been by far one of the most anticipated games of this or any year for Sony fans. The PS3 version was great (as expected), but the PSP version has seemed like an oddball in all of the MNR hype over the past year. Nobody knew what to expect, and given its $30 price tag (most major PSP games are priced at $40), many people expected it to be a highly dumbed down version of the flagship PS3 version.
However, I'm a bit surprised to report to you that those fears are unfounded. The PSP version is shockingly fleshed out, and it is just as good if not better than the console version (dollar-for-dollar).
The easy move for Sony would have been to package a simple arcade racer under the ModNation Racers banner. But, they've taken the tough road, and have managed to put together the same great mix of creation and racing as on PS3. That's right; Sony has accomplished the monumental task of fitting ModNation Racers' (PS3) fantastic creation system onto the PSP. Not only is the level creator astonishingly well realized on PSP, but the character and cart creators are here too.
Just as in the console version, these toys are a ton of fun to play around with. And the incredible ease of use of all the creation systems is astounding. Fully-fleshed out tracks can be created in minutes and look almost as good as the ones created by the professionals. The only irritating part of this comes from the character and cart creations segments. A huge percentage of the content you could add to your racers is walled off to begin with. You have to earn the right to customize your things. It's an interesting and effective way to convince people to keep playing, but in a game that hangs its hat on customization, it seems odd that they would forcibly prevent you from doing so.
The reason this becomes a big issue is that this is, by far, the best part of the game. There is a ton of fun to be had in experimenting with all of the different themes and accessories. The racing by comparison is lacking. That's not to say it's absolutely wretched, though. It's definitely a fun kart racer, but it can be frustrating at times. The PSP has a slew of awesome racing games already, so there's little excuse for a first-party Sony game not to succeed with flying colors in this genre.
Yet the racing itself is occasionally beset with problems that one wouldn't expect from a game so obviously lavished with care and production value. First and foremost, most karts don't handle very well. You'll spend far too much time struggling to stay off the walls and make accurate turns. Drifting is a possibility, but due partially to the PSP's control system, it just doesn't work all that well.