reviews\ Mar 29, 2012 at 11:23 am

ModNation Racers: Road Trip Review (PlayStation Vita)


When ModNation Racers was released for the PlayStation 3 a couple of years ago, United Front Games really took advantage of the PlayStation Network, allowing players to not only race against friends on existing tracks, but also create their own in a huge attempt at one-upmanship.  The result created a community almost as big as LittleBigPlanet’s, and probably the most vast we’ve seen for a racing game since Forza Motorsport 3.  It was a really huge draw for the game…which leaves us scratching our heads over why the PlayStation Vita didn’t get it.

Don’t get us wrong, ModNation Racers: Road Trip managed to survive the trek to handheld with most of its features intact, including being able to build your own racers and tracks and sharing them via upload, but without the community to be able to race against, it feels like a severe loss.  And the saddest part?  That’s not the game’s only problem.

ModNation Racers is the equivalent of most kart racers out there when it comes to control.  You choose your racer and hit a number of tracks in Career Mode, using occasional power-ups to gain the advantage over AI racers (or local racers through AdHoc), unlocking new components that you can use to make your racer and tracks even better.  And it’s pretty much rinse and repeat from there until you unlock everything, then let creation take over.

We admit, the track editor is pretty damn cool with the Vita screen.  Being able to touch and place components for each track is a snap, and then trying them out is always satisfying, just to see your world come to life.  And the upload feature is handy, if a bit long when it comes to time.

That’s one big issue that ModNation Racers: Road Trip hasn’t resolved on its trip to the Vita – loading.  The game takes forever to load between races, about a good 40 seconds or so before anything truly happens.  You’d think Sony would’ve learned from this through the PlayStation 3 version, which had a similar problem, but sadly, that isn’t the case.

But, really, the lack of multiplayer bugs us.  This would’ve been an ideal time for Sony to take advantage of the PlayStation Network and show us what good it would do, and instead, it balks on the feature save for quick sharing and local AdHoc racing.  That takes a lot of wind out of this game’s sails, and though it’s still fun to play solo, you can’t help but think this was a sorely missed opportunity.

The game is also a mixed bag when it comes to presentation.  Though the graphics do impress at times and the track design is intuitive, the frame rate jumps way too often, even when there isn’t much happening on the screen.  The drivers are still adorable, but don’t react often enough, particularly when they take over the lead.  The music’s not bad, but hardly anything you’d want to race to in real life, and the lack of humorous announcing is hard to overlook.

If you need to fill your racing fix and Wipeout 2048 isn’t getting the job done by itself, ModNation Racers is worth a look, especially if you have a creative penchant to make your dream tracks come to life.  However, with the missing multiplayer and the iffy presentation, this is hardly the smooth coasting to the finish line it should’ve been.  It’s back to the ModNation drawing board for these guys…

Above Average

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