One of the most interesting games to come out of yesterday's Sony E3 2009 press conference was ModNation Racers. It's the first kart racing game for the PlayStation 3, and it takes its inspiration from the customisation and collectability of the vinyl toy scene. The game lets you design your own tracks, karts, and racers then share and play them online with friends; something that puts it clearly in the same vein as another Sony stablemate, LittleBigPlanet. We got to see the game at a behind-closed-doors meeting to find out more.
The character creation tools look extremely powerful, with an amazing number of different options from which to choose. As we watched the development team show off the tools, we spotted 125 mouths, 18 hairstyles, 32 shirts, 27 pants, and 52 pieces of head gear, to name but a few. This doesn't mean that it's difficult to make a well-matched character, however, as the tools allow you to set a primary and secondary colour, then sync those colours across the entire outfit.
If we thought the character creation tools looked impressive, then the track creator blew them out of the water. You can create new tracks in the game simply by "driving" the track around an empty environment, while using the shoulder buttons allows you to raise or lower the track from the ground. From there, you can do everything from change the material of the track itself to adding points of interest, such as trees and houses around the periphery. You can even terra form the land itself, growing it up into hills or bringing it down to fill with a lake. The tools make it incredibly easy to do whatever you want.
It took the team about 20 minutes in total to make a track that looked comparable to the ones that will be included in the full game. In fact, the developers were using the exact same tools to build the tracks that will ship with the finished product. Once you've created your masterpiece, you can then publish it to the Net and share it with other people, who can both play what you've created or continue to adapt it. The team has adopted the same "Play, Create, Share" mantra as LittleBigPlanet, so expect a very similar system when it comes to online.
ModNation Racers is being developed by United Front Games for release in 2010 as a full retail game. We'll keep an eye on its development and bring you more just as soon as we see it after E3.