Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Game Of The Week: ModNation Racers (PSP)

It has a quirky title, and even quirkier gameplay, but 'ModNation Racers' on the PSP definitely deserves the top spot on this week's gaming charts. This game is a sort of cross between 'My Sims Racing' and 'Little Big Planet'.

The aim of the game is to beat competitors in different racing competitions to unlock customisable items. The game has two main racing modes: Single Player Race and MRC (ModNation Racing Championships) Career Mode.

In Career Mode, you play as a young newcomer to the racing circuit called Tag. Your goal here is to complete a set of challenges whilst racing. The higher you place in each race, the more customisable items you unlock.

As well as racing around the track at high speed, you can choose to slow down your competitors by using a variety of weapons that can be collected from little bubbles that lay across the track at certain points. The weapons include: Smoke Bombs, Electric Pulses and Fire Bolts amongst other things. Points are awarded for how many competitors you manage to hit with your weapons and from how far away you manage to get a direct hit. This adds an extra competitive edge to the game and increases the fun.

Another racing element in this game is the 'Boost' button. The Boost meter has to be filled up before players can use the boost. The way to do this is to perform daredevil stunts on ramps throughout the race, or by 'Side Stomping' (overtaking your competitors by force). Once the boost meter has been filled, it is very effective in helping you to beat your fellow racers.

In the Single Player Race, you can choose from a group of Mods, vehicles and racing tracks to showcase your driving skills on. Here you can also choose the speed of the race, how many laps you wish to try and how many AI competitors you wish to compete against. The Single Player Race mode is also a chance for players to use their own custom designed Mods, Vehicles and Tracks.

That brings us neatly to the best feature of 'ModNation Racers': Everything is customisable, from your own Mod character to the track on which you race and the vehicle you choose to drive. Furthermore, the unlockable items can be recoloured to your specifications using 128 different colours! Moreover, some of your Mods facial features such as eyes and ears can be customised separately, so if you want to create a Mod with one large scary eye and one small eye, that is now possible.

Most of the content is locked at the beginning of the game, so it might be an idea to play the career mode first and unlock a few of the better items, but customising your game is easy and can be completed in a few simple steps. Players can also choose to display their creations on the Web and can download other players' creations as well.

The game utilises the PSP's directional controls and button pad as well as the left and right buttons, but this can sometimes prove a little tricky when racing against a large number of competitors.

Having said that, the game has two control layouts, (A and B,) to adapt the game for either PSP or PSP Go users, but which can be manually selected for either handheld. These layouts switch the acelerator controls from the R button to the X button and vice versa. If you are having trouble using your boost button in the first layout, try switching to layout B and see if this improves things.

Overall, this is a fantastic racing game for the whole family to enjoy. If you liked the customisation tools in 'Little Big Planet', or if you are a big fan of other racing franchises, then this is a game you would be interested in. A real winner! Overall Rating: 10/10.


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