Unfortunately, the game suffers from some major flaws that prevent it from reaching the dizzying heights of the Mario Kart series – more specifically in the racing itself. Handling can be a little floaty and never feels as satisfying as it should, even after you’ve come to grips with the core game mechanics. Manual tricks can be performed during the jumps to help fill the boost meter but there’s little reason to do so due to the fundamental need to reserve it for the final few moments to use as a shield. Your fellow racers will almost always store up their weapons – allowing you to breeze into a top position for the majority of the three laps – then unleash a barrage mere seconds before you claim the gold. The inevitability of this cheap tactic never serves to make it any less heartbreaking – and the shield generated by the boost gauge lasts a but a brief second before dissipating, meaning you’ll still take a hit and crash out thanks to the sheer ferocity of the power-ups. At times, it can feel like every weapon has the supremacy of the blue shell, leading to some unforgivable balancing issues where even a seasoned racing enthusiast will repeatedly fail through no fault of their own.
Loading times are curiously long and sap a fair amount of the life out of the production, this is doubly strange given the lack of complexity and detail in the courses themselves. We’ve heard tell of an incoming update designed to deal with this very issue but as it wasn’t available at time of review, we can do little more than express hope that the time spent staring at a percentage will be reduced considerably, thus improving the pace of the game.
Online multiplayer can be a hoot, allowing you to show off your designs in a race of up to twelve opponents. Issues with lag were thankfully nonexistent and we found a far more enjoyable experience here than in the downright merciless single-player campaign. Splitscreen is also one of the game’s high points, providing an immediate thrill that’s colourful and accessible enough to attract an audience of all ages – though the issues with handling still apply.
Combining a truly fantastic customisation system with some unremarkable racing mechanics, ModNation Racers is the very definition of a mixed bag. Featuring a strong online community and a number of quality custom tracks available for download, this is a game that will no doubt continue to thrive via the Playstation Network for years to come. Those who prefer to settle in for the night with a strong single-player campaign will find themselves disappointed however, mostly down to its ruthless nature, unbalanced AI and crushing linearity. If sociable gaming is your thing, then prepare to put the pedal to the metal for a quirky experience that encourages a creative hand and patient mind. Everyone else should take it for a test drive first.
Pages: 1 2
Have you downloaded the latest issue from GamerZines yet? Check it out here!