Bringing the PlayStation 3 version of Modnation Racers to the PSP is surely a heavy burden, but after a recent play of the preview build, Sony looks to have pulled it off. The publisher brought in a number of development studios to help manage the task, and we had the opportunity to spend some quality time with the game to see how it's all coming together.
ModNation PSP has been developed by Sony's San Diego studio, which has worked closely with United Front Games; the developer of its PlayStation 3 cousin. Sony also reached out to Studio Liverpool--the developer of the acclaimed Wipeout series--to use the engine technology behind the PSP versions of those games. This collaboration seems to have paid off, as ModNation Racers is shaping up to offer both addictive racing and deep customisation options.
ModNation Racers is based in a world obsessed with kart racing--where young mods dream of fame, fortune, and the title of mod racing champion. You play as Tag, an up-and-coming graffiti artist turned kart racer, who is garnering attention for his driving ability, as well as his edgy custom vehicles. Accompanying Tag on his journey is his mother, a paint-shop owner who laments the popularity of bland paint colours, and your crew chief, a grizzled ex-racer who had his promising career cut short by a freak accident. Impeding your rise to superstardom is your rich uncle Richard, who wants you to join his mediocre car dealership, and reigning champion Espresso, a sleazy Italian mod with a violent pet monkey.
The creation options on the PSP version of ModNation Racers are as feature rich and accessible as on the PS3. The track creation elements have been scaled back slightly, such as the ability to alter elevation, but this isn't likely to have a significant impact on creativity because you can still modify the terrain around the track. While there is a clear focus on creation, ModNation Racers is predominantly a kart racing game. The racing feels responsive, there's a thrilling sense of speed, and weapons add a competitive thrill. Tracks are littered with various shortcuts and hidden boost pads to reward drivers willing to explore, while long bends give drift junkies the opportunity to earn boost, as well as add some flare to their driving.
Unlike the PS3 preview build that we played recently, our PSP build didn't have access to the ModSpot, which is the central hub for all online and offline activity. However, you will still be able to share and download mods, karts, or tracks, as well as take part in online races. ModNation Racers also provides plenty of single-player race modes; the Pure Race mode removes weapon boxes for straight-up racing. If you're more of a Mario Kart fan, you can play the Action Race mode, which features a familiar mix of racing and weapon combat, while thrill seekers can play an elimination mode called Last Kart Standing.
In Career mode, you can take Tag to the top by pitting him against other aspiring champions. The game is heavily based on rivalry, so elite racers can be unlocked by winning grudge matches. Sideswiping or stomping opposing racers also initiates a rivalry, and if you go on to beat them, you'll gain access to them as playable characters as a reward. Career progression requires you to place third or above in each race; however, the game also provides you with additional challenges. By completing a mission such as getting a certain number of takedowns, you are rewarded a payoff or bonus medals, which unlock more content for customisation. Additional content can also be opened through completing ModJobs, which are achievements for doing things like creating a new racer or driving over 100 boost pads in race mode.
ModNation Racers looks set to provide quality racing and deep customisation that is on a par with its PS3 counterpart. ModNation Racers is scheduled for release on the PS3 and PSP in the last week of May, so for more on both games, check out our complete coverage, including videos, images, and previews.