ModNation Racers Hands-On

We take a look at the next title in Sony’s Play, Create, Share series.

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ModNation Racers could be described as the spiritual successor to Little Big Planet in that it's a kart racing game with highly customisable options. Although Little Big Planet featured similar gameplay systems and tools, the creation itself was a time-consuming task. Making compelling content required dedication and a significant time investment, which for many were insurmountable hurdles. Thankfully, ModNation Racers looks like it will be much easier. We had the opportunity to spend some time with the creation and customisation tools to see if developer United Front is taking the Play, Create, Share ethos to the next level.

Barrels are a threat once again.

After a short qualifying race, we were granted access to the ModSpot, an interactive menu of sorts which also serves as a social hub and a portal to the online content. The ModSpot is composed of a race station and a creation station, with smaller podiums dedicated to highlighting the hottest kart and racer creations. Information boards tower over the racers in a clear bid to get noticed and display the best lap times and player statistics. These conduits are likely to garner some competition between creators as well as racing rivalries. The focus is to encourage the ModNation community and provide a user-friendly experience to make this interaction as painless as possible.

We headed for the creation station, which allowed us to work on a mod racer, a kart, or a track. Opting to create our own mod, we were presented with a blank, pure-white mod that was laid bare for our customisation. Creating a mod is simple, but the number of decals, facial features, outfits, and accessories provide the depth to create numerous wacky racers. Stickers can be rotated, resized, and placed on characters to further personalise them. With so many options available from the start, it becomes quite difficult to settle on one racer, but the frightened-looking mod decked out with a racing helmet and covered in a comic book skin was too endearing to leave behind.

After creating our racer, we dived into track creation and were surprised to find how easy it was to create a professional-looking circuit. Within a few minutes, we were able to create a dizzying track littered with item boxes and boost pads and dressed with lush vegetation. Laying down a track involved driving a large steamroller helmed by our terrified mod around the chosen locale. The trail of tarmac and the environment around it defined itself on the fly around our chosen route, with the terrain dynamically deforming to make way for the track. Altering elevation using the right analogue stick allowed the steamroller to loop back over previous sections of the track and create an underpass or overpass, the ground opened up and even colossal mountains bent to our track-laying will.

After pressing the triangle button to make the track auto-complete itself, we were given the option to auto-populate it. This hands over the job of filling the track with objects and props to the game and allows you to jump straight into the driver's seat and take a spin around your track. The creation tools do the majority of the hard work, leaving you to focus on the parts you actually care about. However, if you want to change small details, you can do so. We easily added volcanoes and mountains of various sizes, laid down thick foliage, and added hazards by simply selecting them from the menu and pressing the X button to place them in the desired location. The simplicity of the track builder and the streamlining of creation in ModNation Racers make it an appealing proposition.

Elvis is making a comeback on the racing circuit.

Little Big Planet's complexities pushed the majority of the player base exclusively into the "play" section, leaving a dedicated few to "create" and "share." In ModNation Racers, the tight driving mechanics, user-friendly creation tools, and great access to the community mean that it could become an even more successful embodiment of the Play, Create, Share ethos. Aspiring kart racers and track creators will be able to take ModNation Racers for a spin on the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable in the last week of May.

Discussion

18 comments
Gammet25
Gammet25

Yay looks like Little Big planet got pimped! XD

maximan99
maximan99

hey drummer 131 i'll probably stuff up a track that i make if i can buy it and i can buy it if it comes out for PSP!!!!!!!

clap-trap0095
clap-trap0095

looks good but is the track design all that good? think of RC revenge pro. it was an awesome game and the only way it was awesome is because the tracks were brilliant! some maps had sharks and octopuses swimming around and others had gorillas and ghosts walking around. while others had tornadoes!!! gameplay wise it was rubbish but the tracks just made the game so if MNR has a track design where you can add movement into it it will be awesome. or at least some DLC for tracks that include moving things in the tracks that you have to dodge. and RC revenge pro is a good buy for the PS2 but good look finding it ;)

firebladedx
firebladedx

I loved mario kart, but the main reason I got bored was that the tracks just got old. While they were all painstakingly created with a lot of love and care, theres only so far they can go. I haven't played the beta but if MNR can bring to kart racing what Mario kart did with an online ranking system (something similar to mw2 maybe with titles and levels etc) and the addition of profession feeling user generated content. This may be the one to watch for summer 2010.

AndrewSBarker
AndrewSBarker

Well done, Tamoor, on your first article for Gamespot. I heard you on the Gamespot UK podcast last week and enjoyed your contribution to it. I hope you continue to enjoy your internship

jrest4nk8
jrest4nk8

I played the beta of MNR when it was out over the holiday season, and just recently played the multiplayer beta of BLUR which was exclusive demo for the 360. In my opinion, Blur was a much better game (think not so cutesy, more for adults) and I will be buying BLUR for the PS3. www.blurthegame.com I hope the camera angles on MNR have been re-worked because vantage point was horrible when going uphill; couldn't see where the track was.

Patous
Patous

Finally, a good kart racing game for the PS3. Not only does it sounds good, it allows users to create every aspect of the experiance. Sweet.

ZombiePhoenix72
ZombiePhoenix72

I've been finding stuff about this game for a couple of days on different sites and it seems like a good game but on the videos (Including other sites) I haven't actually seen anything about the PSP version and what it looks like. Either way, I'll probably get it for my PS3 instead if my PSP because the graphics will be better. And I actually want to pre-order the game but you can't pre-order it in New Zealand cuz nobody actually friggin knows about the game! And this just proves that america is still WAY awsmer than NZ

ShootingPwnage
ShootingPwnage

Oh man the beta was great. Hopefully they release another one. I have it pre-ordered from gamestop but hope the other characters become available later on

MOwens9512
MOwens9512

Definitely got this on my radar. Still undecided on where I will pre-order it from though. Kinda leaning on the Ratchet & Clank skins from Amazon.com but who can resist Kratos? Only problem is I despise Gamestop and don't support them LOL

mcshorty73
mcshorty73

i totally agree with the statement about lbp.. many try to create and fail, but few can make good levels... the rest of us just play.... i think this game will let more people create... I can't wait!!!!!

SadPSPAddict
SadPSPAddict

Really really looking forward to this :D Track creation has been sounding great for a while and this further confirms it. Controls sound tight so all in all should be a great game.

NoDzombie
NoDzombie

looking amazing, there are so many games coming out in May though, gonna have to have a serious think about which ones to buy..........

dapman418
dapman418

I can't wait for this! Constructing your own tracks seems easier than making your own levels in LBP.

drummer131
drummer131

This game is the reason why I recently bought a PS3. Because it's so easy to create new racers, karts, and especially tracks, I KNOW this game will get more community input than LBP ever did. It looks like it'd be real hard to make a failure of a track.

TheDarkCrucible
TheDarkCrucible

OMG love this, can't wait for it to come out. already have it preordered for the PSP and when I get a PS3 I plan to buy it for that system to! never played Little Big Planet but either way I can tell just from some videos that ModNation Racers is going to be amazing! thanks for this artical makes me want it even more lol