Video Games

The King Of Karts: ModNation Racers Video Game Review

ModNation RacersBack in 1992, Nintendo released what would end up becoming another legendary series in there vast collection of Mario games, Super Mario Kart. Super Mario Kart brought with it a new way to play racing games, combined with unparalleled addictive multiplayer options that you and your friends could play literally for hours on end.

Super Mario Kart was released and a new Genre was born: Kart Racing. Up until the Playstation hit Crash Team Racing, Mario Kart went uncontested in terms of competition. Super Mario Kart was just the tip of the iceberg that was soon to follow. With the Nintendo 64 released several years later fans were given another behemoth of a hit, Mario Kart 64. Mario Kart 64 took everything about Super Mario Kart and just added N2O to it, that’s Nitrous to you. Mario Kart 64 brought everything to the table. Insanely addictive multiplayer options, crazy fun single player, and most importantly: longevity. Mario Kart fans couldn’t be any happier.

That was until Gamecube came about and with it, Mario Kart: Double Dash!!. This was the first time a Mario Kart game wasn’t as popular with the fans as its predecessors even though it got high reviews from many and is considered to be more of a cult classic than a Nintendo Classic given its dramatic departure from the norm of Mario Kart. Gameboy Advance and Nintendo DS also got a slice of the Mario Kart pie as well with Mario Kart: Super Circuit and Mario Kart DS. Mario Kart DS, unlike any other Mario Kart introduced us to something we could only dream of back in the Super Nintendo days, online multiplayer! Nintendo breaks their walls and lets users play online, a huge step in Mario Kart’s dominance of a genre they practically own. Sonic even tried with Sonic R for the Sega CD, Sega & Sonic All Stars Racing for the Wii, and even Crash Bandicoot tried again and again after the huge hit Crash Team Racing but none were as good as its original game. Even the super addictive Diddy Kong Racing couldn’t eclipse the behemoth that is Mario Kart. That is, until now!

Logo: http://i45.tinypic.com/xm4as8.jpg

Box Art: http://i46.tinypic.com/255mjv9.jpg

Mario Kart Wii returns users to the roots of Mario Kart as well as brings with it a new, more user friendly way of playing the game. Lots to do alone and never ending fun awaits online. Mario Kart Wii is a solid game and has amazing replay value…but ModNation Racers has INFINITE replay value period. ModNation Racers is hands down the single greatest kart racing game I have ever played or seen, its endless.

I have never seen so much to do crammed into a Kart racing game but yet it stays simple and super addictive that you almost forget your even competing against players locally or online. The moment you are launched into the game, your placed into what is called the “Mod Spot” its basically a central hub for all things ModNation, but here’s the kicker, its a living, breathing hub that’s filled with ACTUAL racers who are also playing the game in real time. To give a better description, if you ever used Playstation Home, that’s what Mod Spot is. If you have ever played Diddy Kong Racing, its basically just the same as the Mod Spot as it was when you were deciding on where to drive in Diddy Kong, except only in this case in ModNation you have one giant racing hub instead of different worlds to explore.

ModNation Racers to me is the complete revival and refreshing of the Kart genre. It is so deep but yet so simple that even the strongest of points for Mario Kart are dwarfed by the weaker points in ModNation. For starters, the controls are so well done that even in the tightest of moments in the most intense racing sessions, there is literally no instance of being frustrated. The ModNation controls hold up extremely well and there placement is simply perfect. Their controls are also so simple even in the more complex sections of the game, Mod Creation, Kart Creation, and Course Creation.

Throughout this article is I will say “Mods.” Mods are Drivers in this game. Anything and everything throughout this game can be modified, and I mean EVERYTHING. There is not a single aspect of this game that cannot be modified. Much to the dismay of LittleBigPlanet, that game had its limits but because the game was so accessible, those limits were not as visible as they should have been. I am not saying LittleBigPlanet is inferior by no means am I saying that, its just in comparison to ModNation Racers which is another game in the Play, Create, Share genre, ModNation is literally limitless as to LittleBigPlanet being slightly limited in some sections.

When you enter the Creation Station, you’re defaulted to the Mod Studio which is where you begin to create either yourself or as many characters that your imagination can conjure up. It’s simply amazing that the creation pallet in this game has no boundaries. You’re given the option to either create or edit any character you have stored on your hard drive. When you select “new”, your character is literally a blank pallet, a white puppet that can be mistaken for the Michelin Man or The Staypuft Marshmallow Man.

From there on your given the paintbrushes and the stickers and the clothes and anything else you can imagine, it’s there for your use. If you do not find something you would like to have on your Mod, you can create it with the stickers that are available in the pallet. With ModNation’s in-depth sticker pallet, you can literally place stickers in many ways that you can create almost any logo imaginable. For starters, I have seen a James Hetfield Mod with the actual Metallica logo on his shirt. The Mod was simply amazing and the resemblance was second to none and for a moment it was like I was actually playing Guitar Hero Metallica, although I was driving a kart around like a crazy person. You can create any number of characters, even if there not from Sony games, and sadly enough, Mario is #1 on the Top Mod Chart and the game is not even a month old at the time of this writing. Mario has gotten literally over 30,000 downloads within the first week of the release of ModNation Racers.

There are also other attributes within the creation pallet that you can use to your imagination. You can also customize the textures of any and every object you place onto your Mod. Whether you are making your character look like it’s a lizard or liquid metal you can make your characters anything you want them to be, its simply astounding. This game has more character creation options than a game from the MMO genre like World Of Warcraft. You can also customize the colors as well with the color wheel that will allow you to give your characters a more darker or lighter shade of any colors under the sun. You can also give you characters any type of voice from the games predefined voices available for you Mod. The voices, however, only make grunting noises much like how they do in Grand Theft Auto (yes, I know that the main character talks in that now, but the original games they do not).

Mod Creation: http://i47.tinypic.com/2en54hu.jpg

Whats With The Life Preserver: http://i47.tinypic.com/jpzgg8.jpg

The Kart Creation Studio is the home for all things that ride quick. You can create any type of kart you wish, even if it’s a Zamboni or a School Bus. This studio has more options than the Mod Creation Studio due to the fact that you can have more and more parts associated to a kart then you can with an actual person. That’s not saying the Mod Creation is limited on customization, its just a fact that needs to be stated. For each level of detail that is involved in the Kart your building, the more it will begin to represent who you are as a gamer. You can literally create any aspect of the Karts from Engines to Seat Covers, nothing is left untouched. You can give your Kart the old Big Block Engine or you can be creative and use the old Hamster Wheel engine for your Kart. The sound effects for the Karts are really special, they give your Kart more of a professional sound to them rather then just vroom vrooms.

What I really admire about the Kart Creation is the ability to create more then just Karts. If you’re really good at it, you can create classic muscle cars like the Shelby GT500 or the GTO from Pontiac. I have seen more then just muscle cars and karts, I have seen the Ecto 1, a Formula 1 Racer, School Buses, Fire Trucks, Tanks, even a Cardboard Boxcar. The Cardboard Boxcar is given to all those who pre-ordered the game and got the voucher for Sackboy from LittleBigPlanet. His Kart is a Cardboard Boxcar with the LittleBigPlanet logo placed on the hood. You can go back and remix their designs as you wish and even copy and paste specific things from there Karts onto yours, the scope of the clipboard functionality in this game works well and smoothly here. You can paste, resize, rotate, delete, and even move any object anywhere you want. The kart creation is broken down into segments, Parts, Accessories, Paint, and Body type. Each of which has dozens of different parts and options. There is no end to the Kart Creation, and that’s just what you drive. Lets talk about where you drive it.

Kart Creation: http://i48.tinypic.com/6ek5yw.jpg

ModNation Racers features 28 designed courses from United Front Games, each of which has its own insane level of detail as well as objectives. Unlike Mario Kart, ModNation Racers give users objectives for each race that must be fulfilled, if they are not, you can still finish and win the race but it’s with the objectives that you complete that allow you to unlock more content that can be used for creations. Also, with some of the races you can even unlock Grudge Matches with specially made characters from United Front Games.

These characters are more common throughout the game, they’re basically the main cast in the world of ModNation. The courses you race them on are based in the Career Central section of the Mod Spot. This is basically where you will be playing the majority of your time offline since it will unlock the majority of the content that will be made available to you. There are also Tokens that can be collected which can be used in the games Creation Station. Each course holds 5 tokens in all and you can go back as many times as you want and collect them if you missed a few, thery’re rather hidden very cleverly.

Each course also features many shortcuts, drifting sections, weapons, as well as many high and low drops. Your speed throughout the races will go very high. It’s a very quick game to play and if your not ready, you will be left in the dust literally. The courses are very balanced in terms of difficulty and ease of control, you don’t ever really feel like your out of the race until you cross that finish line for the final time. The weapon placement on each course is also very well positioned since it will heighten the level of intensity as your drifting those corners trying to keep a lead or trying to simply build up your boast meter for speed or protection. Keep in mind however that the AI Driven Mods will not hold back, they also know of the shortcuts and they also know how to fight back if your being aggressive.

The AI characters are all different in variety, their intelligence is a little bit on the lacking side since there are instances that the AI Mods will drive recklessly for no reason of into walls from time to time, but given this games chaotic nature nothing is out of the ordinary. You can do all sorts of stunts throughout the courses, the ramps go from short jumps over the finish lines or craters, to the impossibly high mountain clearing jumps you see only in movies or in the trailers for ModNation Racers, its done very well and it takes nothing away from the game at all, it makes it more intense.

The Grudge Matches as I mentioned earlier are only reached if you have completed all of the objectives in a single race and have finished first. Now you can achieve a feet by claiming 2nd or 3rd but its the second and third objectives that can only be unlocked if you finish 1st. So if you missed an objective or two but did get first place, you can go back and try again until you get it right.

The Grudge Matches are either a One on One race with the Mod, Drifting Battle, or another Grand Prix with the Mod and a gang of there thugs. Either of the challenges requires you to Win 1st place no matter what it takes. When you win, you unlock the Mod and there creation pallet, this gives you another pre-made character as well as an expansion to your creation studio pallet. You also unlock there Kart as well so you can race with it as your Mod or any Mod for that matter.

You can use these unlocked characters in ANY of the games modes both online and locally. Unlocking all the extra characters will allow you to create a single character of your own imagination that em-compensates all the characters from United Front Games studios, a sorta Jack Of All Trades like characters. The objectives in which you must complete to unlock these grudge matches range from getting an insane amount of Points from either Drifting, Drafting, Wall Riding, Stunts, Air Time, or even racing a Perfect Lap or Perfect Race all together. That means NO hitting the walls period. And with some of the situations you’re in, it’s literally mind bogglingly frustrating to just graze a wall on that last turn after all that patience that went into finishing that race without complication.

There is a Trophy that is rewarded to a player who can finish a race with using boast or a boast pad, so good luck on that one. The gameplay mechanics are very well rounded and well thought out. The weapons system is much different from Mario Kart in the sense that the ideas are similar but are leaps and bounds different. The weapon types are more suited for a game of this pace, they’re no shells or peels here, this game brings in the heavy artillery. You can use missiles, lightning storms, sound waves, and turbo. Now unlike Mario Kart, you can do more then just collect an item, you can upgrade it as well.

Mario Kart only allowed you to have one item at a time, except for Mario Kart: Double Dash!! which allowed each character on a single kart to hold a weapon. ModNation takes a different approach to this. You can obtain any item by simply driving into the Item Pod and you can upgrade it up to Level 3 which is as powerful as it gets here in ModNation. Each weapon has its own attributes whether they be projectiles or speed boasts, but when you upgrade them they get that much more powerful. You can also decide to attack a driver behind you by simply holding the Square Button to switch to the Secondary Fire mode which can attack one or more drivers behind you.

The secondary attack functions just like the Primary Attacks, only in this case the secondary attacks rely on how powerful you make the weapon, your pod collection will determine its overall effect on the drivers behind you. When you collect a Turbo, you can upgrade it to Super Charger and then Warp which will literally teleport you to a different spot way ahead of the pack or just in the heat of things with the front runners in the race and when you enter reality, you will have just a little bit of turbo left to keep your position intact. You can fire a single missile that bounces three times off walls until it either makes contact with a racer or simply blows up, or you can fire multiple missiles at one drivers or unleash a firestorm of missiles on all the drivers ahead of you.

The Sound Wave attack works in three ways as well, you can simply emanate a wave from you which hits any number of people within its range you can fire sound wave bombs which will hits any number of people within there landing zone, or you can launch a Sound Wave shot that will not stop until it hits every person in front of you, the effects of this level three attack are well done and the graphics in the surrounding area that will be damaged are well developed and the environments will show the effects of the damage from this attack. Each weapon has its own name no matter the level you have it at, use them wisely and use them often in this all out free for all that is any given race your in. You will race against 11 other racers as you progress through the Career or in the online portion of the game.

Speaking Of Mario: http://i47.tinypic.com/2nrh74x.jpg

All of these incredible events that are unfolding in front of you are also being broadcast to the MRC, the ModNation Racing Championship, which has its own broadcasters Biff Tadwell and Gary Reasons, two different personalities which often conflict with one another. There interactions together are very humorous in some instances, however, if you select to race a course again from the Mod Spot, you will have to watch the intro from those two each time but you can skip them whenever you want even if you have seen them for the first time. There are cut scenes that bring to you this story of Tag, the main character of sorts in this imaginative game, as he works his way up the ranks of the ModNation Racing Community. Your given a racing team and a single objective, Become Champion of ModNation.

Your given a rival in Expresso, the current ModNation champion as well as creep. He has his own personality as well as side kick which is a chimp. This is a sort of minor reference to Speed Racer’s Chim Chim, but a bit more on the funny side since you only encounter it in a cut scene very quickly and very humorously. Expresso is a stereotypical French driver who races in a F1 Type Racer that is also very well in tune with the ModNation Community due to the driving capability of the driver as well as the speeds it can generate. Expresso is responsible for the ending of the career of Tag’s Crew Chief so the personal grudge between the two is very adamant and apparent, Tag is out for success and fame, Expresso is out to protect his title and end the comeback of Tag’s Manager.

When you finish the Career Mode, going back and playing it through over and over will not get old due to the deep detail given to the objectives and collection of the Tokens that are available, this is a game that your going to want to find anything and everything so you can create an arsenal of mods, karts, and courses. Your weapons are contained in what is called the Boom Box and your speed boast, shield, and Sideswiping are all contained to the Boast Meter which is filled by drifting, drafting, attacking, air time, stunts, as well as running over Plus Pads that will grant you a quick refill in your boast meter. Your boast meter will empty very quickly throughout the course of a race, so make sure you drifting often and accurately, any bump on the wall or attack from another driver will waste those points you have just worked hard for.

You Are Tag: http://i50.tinypic.com/jv1x7b.jpg

Amazing Firepower: http://i47.tinypic.com/2dmi4bb.jpg

You Been….Thunderstruck: http://i45.tinypic.com/bi09xz.jpg

All of the creation and racing you do in the single player will help prepare you for the massive never ending world of the Online Community. This game has a very large online base already and were just a little bit after it’s launch and man let me tell you, I have seen all sorts of courses ranging from insane to direct recreations of Mario Kart courses! That’s right, Mario Kart is in ModNation Racers, in some sort of way although its obviously not authorized by Nintendo. You can upload and download anything and everything there is to be had within this game, and you can even upload remixed versions of the pre-created content from UFG and upload it as your own, this keeps the game fresh as well as fun for new comers and veterans alike. The same concepts of the driving from the Single Player all apply to the online as well only in this instance its against living breathing players instead of just AI.

The online portion of this game is simply stellar, not a dull moment ever at any instant. You can drive around the Mod Spot and just hang out with fellow Mods if you wish and you can communicate with them via Text or Voice. You can even arrange races well before they are to be had. This is what Playstation Home was supposed to do with its Game Launching abilities but that has yet to become a widespread feature, games like ModNation Racers are showing us gamers that you do not need an independent application to do said functions. The Mod Spot took a life of its own in recent days with all of the new content that is literally uploaded almost every minute. The community in this game has been nothing but spectacular in the sense of overall positive experience, I have yet to be bothered by the online community in this game. Everyone is having a good time and that’s what counts the most.

The content that is uploaded and downloaded is all tracked and stats are kept, you can view the stats on anyone and anything associated with ModNation Racers. You can also go to their website and do actual searches for content via the website all in real time, the data syncing between the two is literally lag free, there are some moments where it may take a moment or two for the content to be shown in the Search results. You can do any number of searches for the limitless content that is available for ModNation. You can also do more specific searches like By Keyword, Text, Type, Most Downloaded, Highest Rated, etc. Its like an in game Google Search Engine.

I have one more thing to discuss about the Creation, Courses. You can create any type of course with the pre-made environment type whether they be Alpine, Desert, Seaside, or Jungle. You can take it from there, your entire course will be all up to your imagination. You can create lakes, rivers, mountains, turns, time of day, weather, sheep placement, weapon placement, drifting, shortcuts, jumps, drops, etc. there is nothing that is left undone here. Your entire course will have its own unique feel and unique sense of style, your course represents you and your creative genes, so don’t let yourself down.

Your course will also be able to have traps called Mod Bots which are used to interfere with drivers progressing through out the course. There are Fire Mod Bots, Crusher Mod Bots, Jumping Mod Bots, and Flame Thrower Mod Bots. All with one purpose: Annoy. These bots have a mind of there own but with your creative tools, you can lay out there course of attack, you can also plan out there moves as well as the rate of there attacks as well as the speed in which they move. You can also place multiple Mod Bots around that can really make things more crazy then they need to be. There are also Mod Bots that can launch Barrels containing explosives that will detonate on impact, this gets very frustrating for you when your on those high mountain tops while drifting. You can use your Shield as you progress through out the course of a race, you can deflect anything in bound. As you create your course, you can also place props as there called such as homes, signs, cows, tress, shrubs, weapon pods, boast pads, launchers, ramps, etc. if it’s available as a prop, use it in your course.

When you start the course creation process, after you select a theme, you then take the roll of a giant steam roller and then lay out the courses terrain. You literally are mapping out the course itself all with the single press of a button and the simple steering of the steam roller. You can take many turns as well as create loops, drops, tunnels, as well as make separations that require the racers to use a ramp to get to the other side of the course. You can also change the type of terrain your driving on as well.

Course Creation: http://i46.tinypic.com/51eibc.jpg

Every Aspect Is Customizable: http://i48.tinypic.com/10e0zva.jpg

Once you have your course laid out, you can then begin to trim and cut the fat as they say to get the perfect course design. You can change the type of terrain your driving as well with the Edit option, you can use many different types of terrain. You can turn the concrete into dirt roads such as to give the racer the feeling of off road racing. You can also change the type of terrain to brick road as well as grass and mud and construction site type locations. You can also mix it up as much as you want throughout the duration of the course. As you get further into the creation of a course, you can then begin to get an understanding of where this course is going, so once you have that in your mind, you can then begin to move the many different elements in your course. You can resize turns, make them smaller or wider, you can make a turn tighter and more narrow which gives the drivers more of a problem while traveling through them. You can even create shortcuts throughout the course.

If a driver leaves the actual layout of the course, they will be notified of this with the Illegal Shortcut icon, this goes away with the Breadcrumbs option in the course creation. You can designate any area of your course to be a shortcut and you can do it as much as possible. The AI Bots will learn of these shortcuts and so will the online racers as well, so be cleaver in your design. You can also have a live audience like a NASCAR stadium at the end right by the finish line to give your course a more authentic feel to it. You can virtually create any course from any racing game period, and I mean ANY course. Trust me, if you have an idea of what type of course you would want to create, just go into the Creation Station. Once your done creating your course, just give it a name and give it some keywords and a description and then select Publish and upload that course to the ModNation Community.

ModNation Racers is one of the best ideas to ever grace a video game console, no matter which generation your thinking of. This game is hands down the best example of how to take an idea and just expand on it in millions of ways but keeping it simple and quick to use with easy controls and ease of use with the creation and sharing. There is literally no boundaries to the content that is available for this game, the first day I had with this game I literally found thousands of pieces of content for a single search Iran, it was quick and easy to do. The uploading and the downloading is very easy to do and its very quick at the same time. Playing this game online is very fun and its very addicting, the replay value in this game is astounding.

This game is one of the most deep and most entertaining online experiences I have had in recent memory with the Playstation 3 or any console for that matter. Sharing content online with friends and random people is fun to do and it opens up the ideas and doorways to endless fun with people you have yet to add to your Friends List. Stat Tracking is amazing as well, anything and everything is compiled and you can compete against the Creators or the veterans of the Community with Lap Times, Course Popularity, Kart Popularity, Mod Popularity, as well as battle for XP and Wins.

If your looking for the best online fun possible, this game is the answer. ModNation Racers is not competition to Mario Kart, It REPLACES Mario Kart. ModNation Racers is the single greatest Kart Racing Game ever created, and that’s just from the stand point of playing the game with the already made content. And just wait for the first set of patches to address the connection issues as well as the load times, than this game will really fly. ModNation Racers is the greatest Kart Racing Game Ever Made, period.

Great…Scott: http://i46.tinypic.com/oiyrud.jpg

Pre-Order Bonuses: http://i50.tinypic.com/293fv2g.jpg

ModNation Racers is NOW Available for an MSRP of $59.99 for the Playstation 3 and $29.99 for the PSP/PSP Go. Rated E10+ For Everyone 10 And Up. Only On Playstation.

Hits:

-The SIngle Greatest Kart Racer Ever Made

-Amazing Controls

-Great Graphics

-Fantastic Level Of Creativity

-Endless Possibilities With User Created Content

-Super Easy To Create Mods, Karts, and Course

-Awesome Online Community

-Lots Of Stat Tracking

-Endless Replay Value

-Split Screen Users Can Go Online

-Remixing Is Encouraged

-Lots To Do In The Career Mode

-Everything Is Easy To Use And Is Clearly Shown In Tutorials

-Many Ways To Communicate

-ModNation Racers’ Website Allows You To Search And Track In Real Time

-Pre-made Characters Are All Unique And Funny

-Objectives Make The Career Mode Very Rewarding

-Insane Level Of Detail

-Fantastic Audio

-Great Sense Of Style

-Classic Concept Given A Dramatic Face Lift

-The Game Never Gets Old

-New And Original Game For The Playstation 3

-Content Is Uploaded And Downloaded Within Seconds

-Great Pre-order Bonuses And Everyone Gets Sackboy

-Awesome Weapons

-Great Scott, It’s Me

-You Been Thunderstruck!

Misses:

-NONE
———————————
Official Score:

ModNation Racers Rating: 5 Stars Out Of 5

Editor’s Choice Award

MUST HAVE PS3 Game Of 2010!
———————————
Buy ModNation Racers – Pre-Played on Gamefly.com.

Buy ModNation Racers from Amazon.com.

The Official Site: http://www.ModNation.com

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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