If Sony set out to make a mash-up of “Mario Kart” and “LittleBigPlanet,” then it succeeded with “ModNation Racers.”
The game, which is available now for the PlayStation 3, combines the kart racing elements of “Mario Kart” with the user customization of “LittleBigPlanet.”
The racing is plenty fun, but the customization is its highlight.
Everything is customizable, from the racers to the karts to the racetracks. So while playing through the main game is enjoyable, you’ll probably spend most of your time creating content or browsing and downloading other people’s content.
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The options for customization are vast, which is apparent from downloadable user creations. Gamers have created tons of fictional characters and famous fictional vehicles. You can download Batman and the Batmobile for racing. I saw pretty detailed replications of the A-Team’s van, the General Lee from “The Dukes of Hazzard” and various NASCAR cars. Some gamers have created replicated tracks from the original “Mario Kart” as well as real-life courses like the one used for the Monaco Grand Prix.
After creating or downloading drivers and karts, you proceed to the game’s central hub “ModSpot.” The hub serves as meeting spot for racers and serves as a location to view the community’s top creations. From here, you can race friends, enter tournaments or play the top track creations.
The actual gameplay is where it draws comparisons to “Mario Kart.”
The racers can pick up power-ups during a race that can be used against their competitors. Each track also has boosts that allow the racers to go faster for an extended period of time. Handing out power-ups isn’t a rarity. Since “Mario Kart,” power-ups have been commonplace in racing. “ModNation Racers” integrates them almost exactly like “Mario Kart” did, except it exchanges bananas and turtle shells for missiles and electrical strikes.
The biggest negative about the game is its inexplicably long load times. In some instances, you will wait for a minute for a race to load. This is really unacceptable with the PS3’s technological capabilities.
There has been no shortage of racing games this year, with “Split/Second,” “Blur” and “ModNation Racers” coming out in the past month alone. All three have their positives, but “ModNation Racers” user-created content gives it the best replay value.