ModNation Racers Multiplayer Hands-On Impressions

We jump into gear and rev it up with a look at the multiplayer options in Sony's upcoming super-customizable kart racer.

We’ve paid a lot of attention to customization in our past previews of Sony’s upcoming kart racer, which borrows heavily from LittleBigPlanet’s “Create, Play, Share” mantra. But while you can customize pretty much anything in the game (characters, karts, tracks, and so on), eventually you’ll want to start racing your creations against other players. This week we got our hands on some PlayStation 3 preview code for ModNation Racers and had the chance to test out the game's multiplayer component.

Defeat your opponents in style by building up your power-ups and strategically planning the right moment for attack.

At this stage, the multiplayer part of the game appears to be just one simple four-player split-screen mode that allows you to tweak a few things before you begin the race. Rather than provide a standard scrolling menu, the game mixes it up a little with an interactive menu screen where you can drive your character between different bays depending on what you want to do (for example, Career mode, split-screen, customization menu, and so on.)

Once you're in the split-screen bay, you’ll be asked to add in one, two, or three players and start playing around with the race options. The full version will support up to 12 online drivers per race. In the preview build we saw, there were 12 tracks to choose from, each imaginatively themed with the kind of environments you’d expect from a kart racer. These included beach, pyramids, desert, jungle, castle, market, and even a farm track. You can then pick the number of laps you want (up to nine) and the number of AI racers to fill in the gaps in offline play. With three or more players racing on the same console in split-screen, there will only be one AI character. There is also an option to pick the speed class of your vehicle (rookie, pro, and elite), but there is not a great deal of difference in how the cars in each class perform. Finally, you can pick the difficulty of the AI, with the harder settings making for more pesky and aggressive AI opponents. With the easier settings, you'll be left to your own devices.

Like most arcade racers, the racing physics and control scheme are easy to master. The general idea here is to drift and build up your boost meter so you can burn rubber when you need to or trade speed for safety to use your boost to perform a bubble shield. The interesting part is the various power-ups you can pick up while you race, which work in three stages to do exponential damage. The items themselves are nothing new--rockets to blast opponents, lightning bolts to zap them, an earthquake pulse that shakes players off course, and a teleport pick-up that lets you shoot miles ahead on the track. The first time you pick up an item, it will do a certain amount of damage; the second time, the damage increases until finally, with the third pick up, you’ll get an off-the-scale miniapocalypse, which is a lot of fun. This gives you an incentive to build up your power-ups and race strategically rather than go crazy deploying items as soon as you pick them up.

Things stay interesting with the creative track environments, which makes for very few dull moments.

Multiplayer is a lot of fun given the combination of power-ups and well-designed tracks. You don’t have to dedicate too much attention to the actual controls, which means you can spend more time concentrating on organising your plan of attack for getting rid of your opponents and muscling your way to first place. Even if you fall behind and lose all hope of coming first, you can still have plenty of fun during the race. The cartoony environments are interesting enough to hold your attention and there's none of the cement-and-the-occasional-shrubbery look you get with sim racers. There's also plenty happening on the track to keep you on your toes. For example, opponents will keep hurtling their power-up items, but the game will give you a three-second warning to give you the chance to deflect incoming attacks with your shield.

At the moment, we’re not too sure if the final build of the game will include other multiplayer modes, but this is doing the trick for now. From what we’ve seen so far, ModNation Racers multiplayer is as fun and interesting as the rest of the game. You can zip around the virtual track when it hits the PlayStation 3 and PSP in late May this year.

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Discussion

22 comments
insanitycheck4
insanitycheck4

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

ph1nn
ph1nn

Once again gamespot misses the boat, IGN had a full video review out a week ago for this game. Now its passed the date it shipped and nothing. The demo is great though and the track creator is awesome.

tsep23
tsep23

spellrunner, The game has 4 player offline split screen.

tsep23
tsep23

jimmyccckotb, The PSP isn't as good as the PS3. I've played both. You don't have a PS3? Man your missing out dude.

tsep23
tsep23

uglypinkmoose, I didn't say that Mario Kart got an 8 from Gamespot. I said that the avg score was an 8. Go to Mario Kart on gamespot and click on the critic reviews. You'll see that the majority of them Mario Kart an 8. As for Mod Nation being the best. I think it's fair to say that prior to mod nation mario kart was the king of kart. All one has to do to make the case that Mod Nation is the best kart racer is to prove how it's better than MK. Unless your a diehard Nintendo guy it's easy to see how much better this game is than Mario Kart. Again, I've played both and have been a huge fan of MK since the 1st one came out when I was a kid.

jimmyccckotb
jimmyccckotb

I hope the psp version is as good as the ps3 version, because I don't have a ps3, but i LOVE mario kart and this looks to be even better.

bisonfan2010
bisonfan2010

definite must buy for any ps3 owner and mario kart fan

Mattg7lc
Mattg7lc

Looks pretty cool, I'll definitely be buying this.

spellrunner
spellrunner

Hopefully there will be a mode which allows two players, in split-screen or on-line, to be on the same team and compete against AI opponents in a large racing circuits to unlock items.

Viktormon
Viktormon

@JarodBelmont I think it's because it was a 4 player limit in the preview version.

FollowTheRule
FollowTheRule

mixture of littlebigplanet and mario kart, but has great customization of karts, characters, and tracks. Lots of items to use nice graphics story mode Yeah, definite buy.

Jozzoh
Jozzoh

The AI thing is kinda letting this game down for me

Jozzoh
Jozzoh

The AI thing is kinda letting this game down for me

kavadias1981
kavadias1981

This is a definite buy. I have stuck with Mario Kart for a long time but this looks like it will definitely take the crown from now on.

kavadias1981
kavadias1981

@Sagacious_Tien Refer to the previous previews.

JarodBelmont
JarodBelmont

You only get 1 AI opponent while racing offline with 3 or more people? That's lame!

never-named
never-named

The preview doesn't confirm if the PSP version will have infrastructure online or not...[sigh]...

jasopan
jasopan

Whoa racing on top of camels :O Now thats something

Sagacious_Tien
Sagacious_Tien

Thanks for the interesting preview Laura. Not much meat to it though. I'd like to know about the creating/ sharing part, and how that works.