If you thought Mario Kart was the best kart racer then think again! Modnation Racers is Sony's newest game in their Play, Create, Share series of games and Sony's answer to Mario Kart. As you may have already worked out, I like it more then Mario Kart and if you want to find out why then keep reading.
Modnation Racers is the Little Big Planet of kart racers, you can play, create, share as the E3 slogan. As in every racer it has the basics. Quick race which is just a single racer. Spilt screen for 4 player races. Career mode to unlock new content through a series of challenges and Online mode which has races to earn XP to bring up your level and casual races just for fun. Now here's the thing, to get to any of these race options you have to drive around the Mod Spot. The Mod Spot is a small driving area with every option as a spot to drive to. In the Mod Spot you can also have a look at the top created racers, karts, courses, who's in the Mod Spot at the current time and a statue of the person with the highest level in the world.
The Mod Spot is also where you can access the creation studio where you make your characters, karts and tracks. The customization options are very large for all three but you'll notice there are limitations on how much you can do, especially on cars and tracks. The character creation has a whole lots of options and if your creative enough you can makes almost anything. If your not too creative you can always download something you want. If you do have a creative streak an you think it's good enough you can also upload your creations to the Modnation server and if your lucky people will download it enough to get some trophies. When it comes to creating anything in this game just remember that your only real limits are your imagination... and whatever the game says is the limit is.
Gameplay is similar to Mario Kart and the control layout is ok, but I wish they had a customise controls option to allow people like me to use the right analog stick to accelerate and brake. . Admittedly the weapons system in the game is pretty cool. The weapons can also be level up by collecting balloons while still holding a weapon you picked up from one earlier. The weapons can also be laid as mines if you want to take out someone behind you but it better to do that if you somehow get in first. You can also do stunts off of jumps draft and drift, which are done to increase you boost gauge in the corner. You use this gauge to power you shield to protect yourslef, sideswipe someone next to you or just a speed boost. Career Mode is where you'll unlock the content you need though a series of challenges on each course. Now this is where the problem starts with all kart racers, the rubber band AI. During these races you'll be given challenges to complete to unlock more content and you'll need to replay over and over and over again just to complete them all because of the AI or in 1 challenge's case pure dumb luck. The AI programming is very unforgiving and you'll be frustrated with it a lot, I know I was, especially during the races after the Mayhem Tour. The challenges are also very hard to complete for the most part because of what you have to do and the fact you need first on top of it is what makes the seem impossible to pull off. I personally think it was a bad choice of the developers to go with this path because it can alienate younger gamers and people who are not very adept at racing games. Why they didn't put a difficulty setting in the game is one question that I would like answers to because it's just too hard for the average gamer and it seems like only proficient players can play it with the least amount of problems and I'm not exactly the best gamer but I'm a pretty competent player and I was frustrated by this game because it's designed for everyone but seems to want the best players to unlock everything.
Career mode aside the online multiplayer is awesome! The online game experience is fun and if you lose it's because of better players then an AI program that cheats. The races are in two types Causal races which you do mainly for fun and XP races which are for more competitive racers and you can earn XP to increase your level, what this does is just for bragging rights and nothing else from what I've seen. Surprisingly while playing online I haven't run into any lag which is surprising because of the odds of playing people in the same region is pretty slim. There is also an option to race on the top 5 popular courses online which is cool to see what some people have made and you can also race on a course which changes everyday to get the fastest lap... the only problem with the fastest lap tracks is sometimes the leader somehow pulls of some bull crap that you can't reproduce and makes it unfair to compete against their ghost.
Modnation Racers is the best kart racer you'll ever play... until something new comes out that's better or Nintendo fixes the issues with Mario Kart. The game is overall fun but your better of playing with friends online or offline then racing though Career mode after finishing it. The fact that you can make your own tracks, racers and karts will keep this game alive for a long time unless your not very creative and even if your not you can download tracks, racers and karts online and there are some very creative designs in every area. I give this game a 4/5 because of the rubber band AI. If the AI wasn't such a problem I would have be glad to give it a solid 5/5. Either way you can't go wrong with this game especially as a family racing game.