ModNation Racers
Developer: San Diego Studio
Publisher: SCEE
Release Date: Out Now
Players: Single player, Adhoc 6 player, Online 6 player
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Much like LittleBigPlanet PSP, ModNation Racers PSP is a scaled down version of its home console counterpart. It still contains many of the features of the PS3 version but some things have been changed in order to fit better with the PSP and allow for easier gaming on the move.

At its core most features are similar to the PS3 version; it has a single player career mode in which you play as Tag, a mod who dreams of winning the ModNation Racing championship title. The story is played out with cutscenes, the same as the ones on the PS3, between the races. The cutscenes help add the sense of a story to the game and are filled with humorous banter from the two commentators. The main aim of each race is to finish in the top three—initially this seems easy with the first few races helping teach you the controls with small tutorials. This difficulty increases as you progress, with later races being a lot harder as the tracks become more complex and the AI become less forgiving. At the beginning of each race, before you select it, the game shows you the number of things available for unlock in that race and also the secondary objectives which can be completed to unlock further items. The only problem with this is, unlike the PS3 version, the game doesn't tell you what you have unlocked when you finish the race and in the customisation area there is no indicator I could see that told you which items were new so I was left guessing as to what new stuff I had acquired.

As well as the career, the game offers three other single player race modes; Action Race - essentially the same as career races but you can choose the course you do, Pure Races - these get rid of all the power ups and so to win you have to rely on your racing skills alone, and Last Kart Standing, which as the name suggests needs you to be the last kart standing to win as the kart in last is eliminated every 30 seconds. There are also both online and adhoc multiplayer modes, supporting up to 6 players and the same game types.

In all the game modes but Pure Races the tracks are littered with pickups. These pickups contain a variety of weapons, from lightning bolts to mines, which can be used to help you win. The only downside is that these weapons can't be stacked up to become more powerful like the PS3 version and also only mines can be dropped behind you. Another downside is that more than once I've all but won a race only to be hit by multiple weapons one after the other, meaning I've had to retry the race, this can get frustrating but luckily it hasn't occurred very often.

The part of the game which you could spend hours in is the design studio, where you can customise and create your own mod, karts and tracks which can then be shared online for other users to download and play. The amount of customisation is huge, especially for a portable console game. You can customise nearly everything on your mod, including customising each ear or eye individually. The Kart Studio allows you to create your own kart for use in all the other modes. This has a wide range of options but felt a little limiting in some areas. When you first get the game you'll find that a lot of the parts are locked and only a couple are available for use in each category, but you soon unlock loads of new stuff as you play through the career mode.

The track creator is fairly simple to use, like its PS3 counterpart. First you select a theme for your track from a choice of four; alpine, desert, seaside and jungle. You then drive down the flat, open area, with your track being drawn out behind you. I found telling whether you are raising or lowering the track to be quite difficult as there wasn't any clear indication but apart from that its fairly easy to do. You can then place various objects both on and around the track to add detail and various items can be placed on the track as hazards or pickups. After this is done you can test drive your track to make sure it is up to scratch before finally naming it and saving it.

The community section is where you will go to share your creations or view and download others creations. It also contains your stats and online leaderboards.

Control wise the game is fairly easy to play, the basic controls are easy to learn, with the kart being steered with the analogue stick and the throttle controlled by the shoulder buttons. There are also other more complex controls which can be used to help in races such as using the D-pad to sideswipe opponents. I found this quite difficult to do at the same time as steering with the analogue stick. Drifting is also another major technique which should be learnt to help guarantee victory. By holding the ‘X’ button you can drift your car around corners, helping to add to your boost bar. It sounds simple but in practice is a lot more complicated as you having to continually adjust your steering to avoid skidding or crashing. These let the controls down a bit and feel a bit more awkward to use than they should.

Overall ModNation Racers PSP is a good portable kart game, but with a few tweaks here and there could have been a lot better. It offers hours of gameplay, with hundreds of things to unlock and infinite customisation possibilities and it’s perfect for gaming on the go. Possibly one of the best PSP games of the year.

Best Bits

- Huge range of customisation options.
- Creation tools work perfectly,
- Easy to learn basic controls.
Worst Bits

- Non-stacking weapons,
- Controls feel awkward for some things.

by: coolalien

Copyright © Gamecell 2010