ModNation Racers: Road Trip Preview
Okay, let’s go ahead and get this out of the way first. As excellent as ModNation Racers is with its community features, as well as the ability to create drivers and tracks out of thin air, it’s still just a wee bit difficult considering that it’s supposed to be a kart racer for all ages. But, as the purist for excellence that I am, I still moderately enjoy this game, and I dip into the PS3 version every once in a while just to see what the fellow ModNation maulers are up to.
However, those days might be numbered, especially considering the sheer addiction that will come out of the next phase of Sony’s kart racing series. ModNation Racers: Road Trip is gearing up for a launch later this month, and the company recently invited us to go hands-on with a near-finished build to get an idea of how the little racer has evolved since its PSP days. And boy, has it.
First off, the visuals are about on the same level as the PlayStation 3 version. The speed is just about right, and the track detail is staggering. That's especially true when you go over the kind of big jumps that leave you flying hundreds of feet in the air; and the racers are as cute as ever, showing little mad expressions when they’re hit and celebrating like madmen when they cross that finish line in first place. So, yeah, the game definitely looks the part.
How it performs on the PS Vita, however, is a little different. As far as gameplay is concerned, steering still relies for the most part on analog movement, though you can use the D-pad as well. And hitting the pedal to the metal is vitally important, but you’ll also want to keep a stockpile of weapons on hand, along with shields to deflect incoming attacks. Hoo boy, are there a lot of incoming attacks. You can also perform aerial stunts, if you feel like showing off, as well as drifts, which add on to your score at the end of each round.
Now, we did say it performed differently. In the case of track building, it most certainly does. Using the game’s “create your own” features, you can actually put together your dream racing field simply by dragging your finger along the screen, twisting and turning until you eventually run out of road to lay down. And while the track designer is a little shorter than we were expecting, it’s very interactive. What’s more, you can add effects to each track, either by using auto-populate to fill in the blanks or creating your own, littering trees about, creating overpasses and even making the earth move with some presses on the rear touch pad. While it’s a bit surreal using touch controls to create tracks for the first time, you’ll get into it in no time flat.
Sony is set to support ModNation Racers with a bevy of content. All the downloads that were previously available in the PSP and PlayStation 3 versions of ModNation will be on hand, along with new content that will be introduced over the next few months. Online play itself isn't supported, sadly, though we'll be sure to test if the game supports local AdHoc racing.
We didn’t get enough of a playtest to see if the difficulty spikes were fixed or not, but ModNation Racers definitely has enough appeal with its DLC and touch-screen features to keep you drawn in. Tune in for the full review later this month, where we’ll let you know if this game’s worth taking laps with.