ModNation Racers Update

We take another look at ModNation Racers and see what sort of track you can come up with in a hurry.

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Recently, my fellow editor Sophia Tong took a trip to Vancouver to meet with United Front Games and get an extended look at its upcoming project ModNation Racers. A PlayStation 3 exclusive, ModNation Racers can be thought of as a spiritual successor to last year's Little Big Planet. It's a kart racer with a heavy focus on user-generated content, allowing you to design your own driver, karts, and obstacle-laden tracks and then take your creations online and share them with the world.

Sophia's preview--viewable right here--is the product of a thorough look at the game. She got to spend a hefty chunk of time with it right there at the development studio, so it's a story you should definitely check out. I, on the other hand, recently took a much briefer look at the game at a recent Sony event in New York. ModNation was just one of dozens of games playable that evening, so I didn't exactly get to spend a lot of time with it. This being the case, I thought it would be interesting to offer up some of my thoughts on the creation tools as a sort of comparison to what Sophia experienced up in Vancouver.

The very first thing I accomplished in the game was also what I assumed to be the most daunting, and that was to make an entire track. While I had a United Front staffer on hand to guide me through the experience, he dropped me right in the track editor without even letting me get my feet wet with the character creator. Clearly, he was feeling pretty confident about the accessibility of the track creation tool, and you know what? He was right. It's surprisingly easy to not only design a track, but also flesh it out with visual flourishes and those sorts of obstacles you'd expect to find in a zany kart racer.

You start by molding the terrain. Basically, you select how you want to raise or lower the earth with a simple tool that lets you select the size or type of mountain or valley you want to make. From there, it's the fun part: laying track. You basically pretend like you're flying a slow-moving plane that leaves a streak of asphalt behind you. You use flight controls--tilt up and down, roll side to side, and so on--to determine the basic lay of the track as you guide yourself along and eventually meet back up with the first bit of asphalt to complete it. What's cool is that you can either choose to have the asphalt snap to current terrain or let yourself float freely and automatically raise or lower the mountains and valleys you'd previously design to fit with your current track. If it sounds complicated, don't worry: it's really simple.

After that, you can elect to change the type of road and roadside decorations out there manually, or let the game "auto-populate" your track with the best obstacles and boosts it can think of. I went with the latter option, and it worked out for me quite well. The game is really smart about how it inserts stuff onto your track, automatically laying down speed boosts to help you up really steep inclines and adding arrows to indicate a sharp turn coming up ahead. But even if you auto-populate your track, you can still go in and manually tweak everything. I added cows and sheep crossing the track behind a blind curve to give my AI opponents a good fright. I also added a litany of hazards like a flame pit and a giant crusher that drops a huge piston right onto the track at random intervals, or when you attach it to a nearby pressure pad. You can tweak all these obstacles to determine the frequency at which they rough up the drivers and other sorts of variables. For the most part, the menus used to adjust these settings are pretty clean and simple, relying on radial layouts that keep you from scrolling too much.

After that, I got to test-race my track. Despite the fact that I added maybe one or 10 too many obstacles (this thing was pure chaos), it was quite rewarding to see the fruits of my labor play out in the form of a race. I didn't manage to win, but I was very pleased with the way the track worked. Had I not been so happy, I could have easily jumped back into the editor menu and tweaked all manner of obstacles and decorations and then jumped back into the test race just as easily.

All in all, ModNation looks like an interesting and quite promising follow-up to Little Big Planet's "Play, Create, Share" mantra of building a game around user-generated content. I was able to create a fun and functional track in no time flat, showing that you don't need to spend a day at the developer (sorry, Sophia) to make something cool. There are still some kinks to be ironed out, like an occasionally stuttering frame rate and a camera view that's fixed a little bit too closely behind your kart, but those are things that seem fixable before the game's 2010 release date. You can expect to see more on ModNation Racers over the next few months.

Discussion

48 comments
stevepapa
stevepapa

BEST THING SINCE MARIO KART 64!!!

coruscant
coruscant

This sounds like it's going to be great - a title for hardcore, classic gamers and the more casual gamers. Hopefully it'll sell a lot of PS3s, but what I'm really more concerned about is simple to play it myself, since it looks awesome.

Xecutar101
Xecutar101

I can't wait till tomorrow baby!!!!!!!!!!!!

GeeShep
GeeShep

BETA KEYS GO OUT TOMORROW, BETA STARTS DEC 18TH WOOT!!!

BR4D_B4K3R
BR4D_B4K3R

This looks like EVERYTHING Mariokart ever wished it was without all the wussy stuff. (unless you WANT the wussy stuff... then Modnationracers' ll do THAT for you too!) LOL! :) This should be AWESOME!!!!

Flankypanky
Flankypanky

please DON´T mess this up. hope you can play 4 players local "Split screen"

jackdaniel594
jackdaniel594

this will be brilliant! yet another reason to own a PS3, not like theres not enough already, playstation always have the best exclusives..

fudgeman7
fudgeman7

Why is everyone spelling Mario Kart with a 'C'?! Weird.. Anyway, sounds good.

bendall01
bendall01

I agree with Ryanrtk. This WILL be better than MarioKart.

Ryanrtk
Ryanrtk

this game is gonna be better than mario cart

NiteX
NiteX

It's only natural to compare a cart racer with Mario Kart seeing how it was the first and best one still to this day. I'm hoping I get in the beta.

BalramRules
BalramRules

EVERYONE KEEPS ON COMPARING IT WITH MARIO CART!! I prefer to compare it with Crash Team Racing, or even Crash Tag Team Racing! THAT'S AWESOMENESS!!!

Frinker_
Frinker_

i played mario kart for the first time recently and its so fun. but a kart racer for the ps3, HOW GOOD IS THAT!

Bruly11
Bruly11

its going to be a fun game

nochotwo
nochotwo

It is like a grown up excite bike!

lozvil
lozvil

OMG I can't wait..........................for GT5..................................

j_kizi
j_kizi

its games like these tht keep me interested in gaming, as much as i love shooters and violent games, i hav recently gotten a bit tired of them, i need somethin different, refreshin and fun and i think this is jus the game for me... i loved LBP and im sure this will b a fun game as well...

GunGriffin
GunGriffin

This is yet another reason to own a PS3! I love this system now! (But I will always love Halo/Gears) Sigh.......... Oh well at least I can read the books still.

tidusjeff
tidusjeff

Penny Racer with the volume on max.

NanoElite666
NanoElite666

I remember seeing the E3 demonstration of this game and how quickly the guys on stage were able to whip up a track. It's good to hear that it's as easy as they made it look to accomplish a feat such as this. Definitely might have to check this one out when it launches.

InN3rChi011
InN3rChi011

finally a mario kart like game for the ps3 so gonna buy it

jakndaxter7223
jakndaxter7223

this game is going to be sweet i have a beta key cant wait

BigBoss2014
BigBoss2014

how can xbox fans say they have a better console when sony allways comes out with fun creative genius games like this, i really just dont get it

SadPSPAddict
SadPSPAddict

Didn't play LBP (wife did though) but like the look of this - can't wait! :P

Berserkerz
Berserkerz

I hate it when I buy games like these and LittleBigPlanet. People (Specially my family) tends to look at me with the "That's for kids!" look -___________-

nifepartie
nifepartie

This game looks great. I can't wait to see what kind of little guy i'm going to make. so cool! SEE YOU ALL ON THE TRACK!!

raphaelcoelho15
raphaelcoelho15

Will ModNation Racers be a great competitor to the Mario Kart? I don't know but I can't wait to play this game and see with my own eyes if this game will surpass Mario Kart or if this is just a promise. I only know one thing... The Track Creator will be awesomeand this is one point to ModNation Racers

kavadias1981
kavadias1981

Now this is the type of videogame that is beneficial in a number of ways. This should be getting huge sales, not some FPS that I dont care to mention!

ico92
ico92

well im gonna get alot of flame here but i really wasnt that hyped up for this game untill now i thought it was some LBP kart racing knock off but now im really interested i can see the potential in this game and the funny thing is i can rememeber seeing previews like this for LBP and that game got rave reviews, im actually hyped for this game

efunk25
efunk25

I just hope they offer local 4 player races and maybe even 6-axis steering.

REX705
REX705

It is like Little big planet and Mario Cart put together very cool. I have always wanted a racing game that lets you create your own tracks so your not doing the same thing over and over again but no one ever does that until now :) I am very happy and can't wait to get this.

Jackmouve
Jackmouve

This game is more like Mario Cart (very much like it) more than CRASH-TEAM-RACING. All the fun of Mario Cart plau you get to build you own cart, driver and tracks, it's going to be soooo awesome.

ajervin
ajervin

Sweet looking game I can't wait till it comes out!

z_Aero_z
z_Aero_z

now he playstation games are so creative... thats really good. little big planet is great,and i cant wait for te modnation. hope it is on stores in march, so i can buy it with the god of war III

killah13600
killah13600

CANT WAIT I HOPE ON THE NEXT PROJECT LBP, & MODNATION CREATORS GET TOGETHER..

Tylsamzx
Tylsamzx

TIME TO RELIVE MY CHILDHOOD TO PLAY THIS CRASH-TEAM-RACING-LIKE GAME !!!!

thrasher510
thrasher510

man i shouldnt have read this, now im hella jealous that i can't get this yet. i hope i get into the beta.

Yoshicon8
Yoshicon8

Looks great! And I'm definitely getting it!

Brettsky128
Brettsky128

Can't Wait...gonna be AWESOME! Hoping for the whole "play, create, share" thing to catch on to more types of games

BZSIN
BZSIN

Can't wait for this game to come out.