ModNation Racers Preview
LittleBigPlanet was a fairly big success for Sony, and while it may not have exploded the way people were expecting, the game still managed to gradually pile on users and creators, creating essentially the game that never ends. Well, there's another game on its way, and it too focuses around user-created content, but instead of little dolls, you control karts. Many of you have probably seen the demonstration video for ModNation Racer this past E3, and there's no doubt that it was a pretty impressive showing.
For starters, ModNation Racers follows the concept of Play, Create, Share, a new-found genre of sorts that can be credited to the creation of LittleBigPlanet. For ModNation, Sony has deemed this game the Race, Create, Share sticker, obviously pointing out that this is a user-generated racing game, as opposed to a platform/adventure title. But of course, just like LBP, ModNation Racers will also feature a single-player story mode that takes a newbie kart-racer through the ranks, complete with narration, rewards and all. So you aren't forced to use your creative side, and can just enjoy the game's story. What's also nice about ModNation Racers is that if you'd like to enjoy the game for its physics as solely a kart-racer, then you can enter the Pure Race mode for that purpose.
But of course, most of you who buy this will want to dive right into the creation process, and man is that one deep pool to dive in. For starters, the character creator boasts practically an infinite combination of customization, and that includes the customization of your vehicle. You'll be allowed to upload your character and kart creation to the game's online community, where people can download what you've created and mod it some more, if they choose to.
Though it's the track creator that's the most interesting trait of the game, as it features an extremely easy to use, user-friendly interface that allows you to create the track you want in minutes. The game comes complete with all of the tools and objects that the developers used themselves to create the tracks in the Story Mode, literally giving you complete access to everything available in the game.
What makes the track creator so absolutely awesome is the ability to replicate some of the world's most popular circuits, such as Suzuka, Tsukuba, Willow Springs, Laguna Seca, and even Nurburgring. Now, I noticed during the presentation that there is a limit to how large the track could be, so perhaps a 17.5, or even 14 mile long course is out of the question, but certainly creative minds can get smart and shorten some of the longer stretches of road and have a slightly shrunk version of the course. And because the track creator allows you to tweak the pitch and level of the road, you'll be able to implement banked curves, hills, and so forth. And hey, if you'd like to add some action to the race, feel free to drop powerups wherever you feel like.
I'm expecting ModNation Racers to be an extremely fun and addictive experience. The guys at United Front Games have pieced together a superb physics engine that allows your kart and the race in general to react to everything that's going on around you realistically. I also really liked the drifting mechanic in the game, as it reminded me of Sega's OutRun games.
ModNation Racers doesn't have a set release date, but Sony has said it will arrive next year. We're predicting a Q1 or Q2 release.
6/11/2009 Arnold Katayev