ModNation Racers Beta Impressions: Round Two

From what little of the it United Front Games have shown ModNation Racers appears to very similar to 2008’s LittleBigPlanet, even going as far as to use a modified version of the games catch phrase “Race, Create, Share”. Although the game features heavy character and level customization that’s really where the similarities end.
ModNation Racers, like the name would would suggest is a kart racer, similar to Mario Kart games.
You play as a Mod, one of the inhabitants of the beautifully designed world which definitely needs to be touched on. To put it simply this game looks great. From the character models to the race tracks the game just exudes imagination, although I’ve experienced multiple cases of frame rate drops and the load times are borderline ludicrous, longer then Uncharted 2…and I thought that game had long loads.
Although the racing is important I think that the customization is the real ploy with this game. For those who’ve played LittleBigPlanet, you should feel right at home, the interface is similar but feels more advanced while still maintaining simplicity. You can easily create a really cool looking new Mod in a matter of minutes.
The racing feels fine but I do have a few nitpicks with it. There’s a separate drift button which feels odd, most games simply have you breaking and turning (But you do get a nice flaming tire effect ala the Delorean from Back to the Future).It has a pretty basic boost system in place, you get boost for drifting, getting air etc. It works pretty well and adds a bit more strategy to the races. There’s also no way to change or adjust your controls either which I hope is something that get’s added in to the final version since it’s pretty common place in games today.  Your kart is also far to close to the screen which can be more then a little disorienting when trying to corner. There are also some minor graphical issues the karts appearing to be inside walls and such but this is a beta.
Then there’s the problems that really bug me, the online. I’ve had at least 2 or 3 crashes so far when trying to connect to the online, I’ve been told I’m online but not allowed to access any of the online content and I’ve had multiple occurrences of the game simply closing down the “Connecting” page and return me to the game with no notice at all
My favorite thing so far though has got to be the track creator. Compared to LittleBigPlanet’s complicated, tutorial filled level creator ModNation’s feels easy. Anyone can jump in and make a relatively fun track in a matter of moments. There’s still enough depth however that you could spend hours making the perfect track if you were inclined to. To lay track you play as a big, track size wide, asphalt layer and use the exact same controls as you do for driving. You simply drive and lay track behind you. The coolest feather however is one called “Auto Populate”. You could spend hours laying down trees, houses and the like to make your track look pretty or just use this feature. It autocratically lays out all kinds of scenery to pretty up your track and is really amazing. It really does make your track look like one made by the developers.
I’m not really gonna touch on the multiple glitches and such I’ve encountered so far as I really hope this is only due to this being a beta, but the game is showing great potential and is looking very promising. I’ll definitely be picking it up when it hits in 2010.

1 comment

  1. Nice preview. I’ll try the beta again later, see if I can play it without it messing up on me. If it does, I’ll try and get my impressions written.

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