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ModNation Racers
ModNation Racers

PlayStation 3 | PlayStation Portable
Genre: Racing Players: 1 to 4 (2 to 12 Online)
Developer: United Front Games Official Site:
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertain...
Release Date:
21st May 2010
ModNation Racers Review
Review By @ 02:45pm 10/06/10
Platforms reviewed on: PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable

ModNation Racers is no LittleBigPlanet – the scope of customisation it offers is ultimately quite limited. You can radically alter the appearance of your racer, by adding clothes, textures, accessories, and novelty eyes and ears, but none of this affects how the game actually plays. It is kind of fun to muck about with the options, however, since by combining effects you can unlock some bizarre combinations. For instance, if you apply the rippled, glossy, candy-like texture to a naked racer, he appears to be simply a boiled sweet that has come to life. But if you apply a grimace and wincing eyes, he starts to look like a burns victim.

Idle fiddling with the settings will produce all manner of ghastly, poorly-dressed racers; if you wish to save yourself hours of frustration, you can download the creations of others, or simply press the randomise button and see what horrors emerge.

But this is all just window dressing. ModNation Racers is really nothing more than an old-school go kart racer – and it's astonishing that such a simple game concept has been implemented with so many technical flaws. Most conspicuous of these is the loading times. They're long. Really long. Longer than you'd expect for a game with a compulsory hard disc install. Loading up each new simplistic racing course takes the better part of a minute, and it takes just as long to get back to the main menu when you're done. This brings us to the second major flaw: the clunky interface. Rather than simply working with a list of options for choosing whether you'd like to race online, race offline, customise your racer, etc, you're hurled into a vast 3D parking lot which you navigate in your little dork-mobile. To choose a menu option, you must physically drive up to it and press X. This subtracts even more precious seconds from your gaming session... and your life.

The PSP version ditches this Home-esque facade for a more common-sense menu system, but the lower resolution and diminished options for tweaking almost make the whole exercise a waste of time. You’d be better off with, say, Wipeout Pulse. MNR's loading times are dreadful on Sony’s hand-held, too.

Even if you go to the trouble of creating a halfway decent custom racer and/or vehicle, the means of sharing him with the world – the online mode – is unsatisfactory. While PS3 games are not region locked by default, the online servers in MNR are, slashing the potential for racing interaction. Logging on and lining up a race is a tiresome ordeal, and prolonged by the afore-mentioned long, long loading times.

On top of all that, your customisation work is ultimately redundant, since in the course of a race other contenders are only visible as a blurry speck on the road ahead. Progress in the game will unlock new interchangeable parts for your Franken-racer, but because everyone you're competing with will be absorbed in steering towards power-ups and trying not to drive off cliffs, no-one will ever know.

Everything feels forced. Races are accompanied by the sparring of two dysfunctional, fictitious sports casters whose lacklustre banter turns the adaptive commentary into a poor man's Anchorman.

The game isn't a complete wreck; the track editor is fairly versatile, and 4-player split-screen is pretty rare these days. Yet the racing itself is unremarkable, and the customisation options are ultimately meaningless – you never really feel like you're getting under the hood. ModNation Racers is cobbled together from novelty features to form an uneven, misshapen whole.
What we liked
  • Decent Kart racing action
  • Intriguing customisation options
What we didn't like
  • Awkward interface
  • Looooong loading times, even with HDD install
  • Online play is region-locked, choppy
  • Ultimately pretty shallow
We gave it:
Latest Comments
Posted 03:15pm 10/6/10
snap 5.5 mo f*****s
Posted 04:01pm 10/6/10
As much as i love James's work i have to disagree with him a little on this one. Yes there are major issues with the load times, i dont understand how this wasnt fixed.... But i still much prefer ModNation Racers over Mario Kart Wii. I think that this game offers a lot more, especially if you want a kart racer with a challenge - the races in this game are absolutely brutal. Personally I would give it more than a 5.5

Just my 2c
Posted 10:00pm 10/6/10
Yeah, I've been playing this game for a week now and I'd give it a higher score. The loading times are a major pain, but once it loads it's a fun game. Not as great as Mario Kart maybe, but I'd highly recommend it as a rental.
Posted 02:04am 11/6/10
I'll admit..this sounds like more of a rant/b**** at the game than an actual review.
Posted 10:14am 11/6/10
Yeah i give this review a 5.5.

If they have given the score based on the PS3 and the PSP version combined then thats retarded. It'd be like reviewing Mario Kart Wii with the SNES version... Retarded.

James is correct on a few things, the load times are crazy. I also see the "parking lot" as you call it, a waste of time, but i see what they want it to be as a pretty good idea. It's a virtual car park where you can hook up with other racers etc in an online community portal. A good idea, but it's just a pain it takes so long to load every time.

As for the "Simplistic Tracks" you mention... WTF?? There are shortcuts, tokens to find, jumps etc,... there's s*** going on everywhere... I've been back replaying some of these tracks again and again trying to find all the hidden bits and pieces.

Plus if you do get sick of all the tracks on offer here, there's a s***load of user gen content waiting to be played on. People create their own tracks, publish, people play em. Virtual unlimited replayability.

Look take from James' review what you will. I don't play console games that much, i'm a pretty hardcore PC FPs gamer, but i love racing games and love mario kart. This game is a lot of fun. It's not meant to be serious, it's meant to be fun, and it is. The loading times aren't fun though and in my opinion thats the only thing that holds this game back. Everything else in this game adds up to be a great friday night in, piss drinking piss taking kart death fest which will keep most people happy... just think of the load times as your que to grab another beer or take a leak...

IMO this game is an 8 for the SP, and a 9 if you have a bunch of controllers, a few mates and a slab. Def worth a rental, and def one thats dividing my time away from BC2.
Posted 01:09pm 17/6/10
So after an evening with this I've got a few opinions of my own. Apart from the truly awful loading times, this game is absolutely fantastic! It's quite brazen how much they've ripped of mario kart, down to the little bounce you do when starting a power slide, but it works really well. The game is pretty much mario kart meets littlebigplanet, but if you've seen any of the previews then that shouldn't come as a surprise.

I loaded it up, connected online and was away. Mario, Spiderman and Ironman instantly popped up as the most popular mods, with the A-team van, a ferrari and the Mystery Machine popping up for karts. Freaking awesome! Spent the next hour getting my ass handed to me online playing on a bunch of tracks that the server host had made.

The keyboard/voice chat between each race was great, there needs to be more of this stuff on consoles. It made the whole experience that much more personal being able to have a chat between races, telling my host whether or not I had liked his tracks.

There weren't many people playing online when I connected, most of them seemed to be more caught up driving around the menu hub and chatting. I was playing the US version, so I suppose most of them hadn't gotten out of bed yet.

If they can fix the loading times this will be one of the best games going around on any system. If you like kart racers or making your own levels then its a no brainer. Although I havent been playing long, it feels like I will get a lot of playtime out of this title.

ps - atm you can pretty much download all of the racers, karts and tracks from mario kart. Craziness!
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