ModNation Racers Hands-On Preview
ModNation Racers box art
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
Become a Mod Master
by Matthew Walker

January 6, 2010 - At E3 2009, there were several games creating buzz; they kept us talking about them well after E3, all the way up to their respective releases. Unfortunately, as in most cases, when it comes to event coverage and reveals, some titles are always overshadowed. One such game that deserved a little more attention was ModNation Racers. It looked to have so much promise, but after E3 it did a vanishing act and no one really heard much else about it. Recently, I was able to finally get my hands on the title. After the amount of time I have spent with the game, my advice to everyone is don't let this title fall under your radar - and here's why.

ModNation Racers screenshot

Creativity. That was the biggest selling factor to me and others when LittleBigPlanet arrived last year. Many people loved the potential of creating your own level and sharing it with this massive community, which could then rate your level and even recommend it for others to play. It also became a breeding ground of spontaneous creativity. Granted, some of those never excelled past "here's X number of trophies level," but it was still there. However, one of the biggest complaints has always been the complexity of making a level in LBP. No one can deny the innovation of LBP, but nearly all will tell you the pain in making a level just makes it not worth it. In ModNation Racers, it appears this will not be the case.

Beginning with your Mod, you are easily able to change things with just a few clicks of a button. Granted, this is generally the same with most character designing tools, but it is the sheer ease of making mods in ModNation Racers that thus far helps it excel. For example, creating The Hulk takes two seconds and actually looks like The Hulk. I know this may seem like too much praise, but the kicker to this is my four year old son is the one who created The Hulk, and yes it still looks like a ModNation Racers version of The Incredible Hulk. This super-simple approach seems to be carried over into the kart building as well, allowing people of all ages to create to their hearts content with limitless possibilities.


The creation doesn't stop there, though. I was also able to check out the track-building feature. Though also in limited capacity, like the Kart and Mod creation tools, the track creator once again surprised me with its ease of creation. Granted, this was shown to be easy during the E3 presentation, but I know now from first-hand experience that it is one hundred percent accurate. It boils down to you "driving" the shape of your race track. Once your track is laid out, you have several other options to play around with to complete the track. Everything from the type of grass or sand around the track to the water level of the track can be tweaked. I mean, sure, you can go all creation commando on the game, but it never makes you feel like you have to have a degree in game development to get something that's more than respectable. There's even the option, if you start to get into the full-on creation of a track, to have it finished for you if you start to grow tired of the process.

ModNation Racers screenshot

Creation aspect aside, ModNation Racers' other core element is kart racing. Modnation Racers doesn't try to reinvent the wheel of kart racing, following a very simple formula created by Mario Kart. There are several things that I personally find more enjoyable so far in the game, but it they could change. Without being able to experience the career mode of the game, it is kind of hard to tell how certain gameplay mechanics will play out. One in particular is the stacking of abilities in races. Collecting the power-ups as you race allows you to stack a total of three for an extremely powerful attack, boost, or various other effects. I enjoyed those and I wonder how, if at all, they will play into career mode. The other thing that is hindered by not experiencing the full release is how the online interaction will be.

Right now, unfortunately, there seem to be more than a few issues when it comes to the servers associated with the game. If anyone remembers the Beta period of LittleBigPlanet, they will know what I am talking about. Let's just hope that similar follies that remained through the launch of LBP don't plague ModNation Racers when it releases. Having said this, there were a few instances when I was able to play without interruption; the magic of online kart racing is definitely there, and I can't wait to see where it ends up.

ModNation Racers screenshot

Every once in a while, there's a game that promises to change the way things are done. This new "Play, Create, Share" mentality is paving the way for a generation of imaginative game developers just waiting to branch out onto their own. Thankfully, there are games Like ModNation Racers that seem to capture the magic of "Play, Create, Share." Let's just hope the final release excels past the already impressive content available in the Beta.

By Matthew Walker
CCC Project Coordinator

Game Features:

  • Accessible and Fun - For racers, newcomers to videogames, or an aspiring game developer.
  • Classic Kart Racing Action - Exceptional kart handling and physics technology, including drifting, jumps, and boosting.
  • Create your own track, character, and kart - Spend minutes creating or hours perfecting.
  • Story Mode - Rise up to become an elite racer in the humorous campaign.
  • Online Community - Race and rate other peoples creations and enjoy endless user-generated content.

  • Screenshots / Images
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