We aren’t sure if ModNation Racers: Road Trip is Sony’s attempt at stealing the limelight away from it’s rival console’s Mario Kart. Both games have players racing around in karts, collecting power-ups and attempting to blast each other off the track in order to win the tournaments on offer and while ModNations comes with a whole load of options, making racing only a small part of the game, there is still only one winner.
ModNation Racers: Road Trip is certainly a bit of a mish-mash of a game. To me it doesn’t really know what it wants to be and the things that is does best it does at the detriment of the most important part of the game. Let’s break it down.
When you start the game up you will notice a whole load of options. These allow you to build and customise your own kart, track and race driver, as well as giving you the ability to download those customised by others from around the world. On the face of it this really is fantastic, after all, it literally gives you an unlimited amount of drivers and karts, as well as the tracks to race on. Indeed, adding these options to the others, such as the ability to gain new parts via PlayStation Near and also the option of buying new parts via the Shop Station and you can see that this is a fairly deep game on the surface.
As with Modnation on the PS3, players can go into intricate detail when it comes to ‘modding.’ Whether you are building a kart, track or changing the look of your racing driver. There is certainly plenty of options to keep you happy. Karts or tracks can be build from scratch or you can modify existing templates, allowing you to make your own creation fairly easily. In the case of the karts, this means you can add all the parts you would expect, such as wheels, engine, steering wheels and the body, allowing you to create a truly unique model. Once you have this, you can then add stickers and more, which for the really artistic can provide some fantastic results.
The tracks are quite similar in nature, you simply choose the parts you need and then get building. You obviously can go on forever, building a track of huge proportions, you can however create something quite unique, adding as many bends or straights as you wish. Once you have completed your track you can then auto populate it, which basically consists of the game adding all of the scenery in for you. A simple test drive around the track will then follow, allowing you to bask in the glory of your creation and figure out if there is anything you would like to change.
Once you have completed any creation you can then upload it for the world to see via the share station and from here you can keep an eye on how popular it’s becoming with the community. For those of an artistic nature, the ability to share creations is fantastic, while those with less artistic skills also benefit thanks to the ability to download them.
The Race Station is obviously the most important part of the game as it gives you access to the main reason for owning this game, the racing. The Single Player campaign is split into various tournaments and much like Mario Kart asks you to earn a high enough placement in order to get yourself up the leaderboard, with the eventual aim of winning the tournament and unlocking the next one. This formula is a proven one and therefore works well.
Once you are actually on the track, ModNations is again very similar to Mario Kart. The racing generally sees you speeding around a track full of obstacles, drifting around corners in order to earn yourself the ability to boost. Along the way you will also find yourself picking up power-ups, giving you the ability to blast opponents and get yourself into first place; so far, so familiar. The main problem here is that ModNation just isn’t Mario Kart. It just feels like its lower league equivalent; the action at times just feels too fast and frantic, giving you a feeling that you are not really in control. The saving grace, as far as the racing is concerned, is that you do at least have optional targets to achieve while racing around the track. These range from gaining a certain position, to earning a set amount of drift points, which at least gives you something different to think about when racing around the track.
Within the Single Player menu, ModNation Racers also has the option for you to take part in Time Trials, allowing you to set your best time and upload it to the global leaderboards. This is the sort of option that handheld games need, since a quick blast on your way to work could see you hitting the top of the leaderboard. That’ll give you something to think about while you are working away at your day job.
Other options within the Race Station include Ad-Hoc racing, allowing you to race against other players over the same internet connection. Disappointingly there is no online multiplayer, which in our opinion is probably what would have saved the game from mediocrity. It’s one thing racing against AI opponents, but taking it online against others usually takes things to a different level, and a more fun one at that. The lack of competitive online play really is baffling, it really makes you wonder if the game was rushed out the door, because it makes no sense that in a game which prides itself on creating and sharing that there is no way to actually play together with these creations.
Overall, ModNation Racers: Road Trip is a feature packed game, allowing you to create and share with your friends. The main problem ModNation has, is that when it does allow you to play, it’s lacking in the essential feature which makes a game work. In case you hadn’t guessed, that feature is fun.
Rating: AverageReview Policy(version tested: PS Vita)
You can order your copy of ModNation Racers: Road Trip here.