Things improve when you leave the AI racers behind and play with other people, either in four-player split-screen or the 12-player online modes. Online, you can either jump into a ranked or casual game; the former rewards you with racer experience points, while the latter is unranked. The host can choose the course and the number of players, and if any players are missing the requisite content, the game automatically downloads it in the background.
6263614NoneThe powerful track creation tools are easy to use.
The creation elements of the game are very impressive, allowing you to build and customise characters, karts and tracks. The tools have been superbly designed, with a firm emphasis on ease of use, with lots of powerful customisation options available as you dig further. The player and kart creators work in similar ways--you start off with a blank canvas and add layers of customisation from there. Both drivers (called Mods) and vehicles can be fitted with accessories unlocked in the career mode, while colours and styles can be swapped out quickly and easily. If you're advanced, Photoshop-esque layering techniques allow you to place text on top of backgrounds to create your own logos, for example. If you're not in the creative mood, though, you can simply randomise a character, choose a premade one, or download a community creation that you find after searching for certain keywords or high ratings.
The track creation tools are also impressive, and allow you to create enjoyable courses within a matter of minutes. You start by driving out a track in the same way you control a kart, but with added pitch controls so you can create slopes. Everything is worked out on the fly, so bridges and tunnels are worked out for you, and you can hold X to automatically complete your track at any time if you can't figure out where to go next. Once you have the basic shape in place, you can ask the game to populate the course with environmental details, hazards, and power-ups and then be up and racing in a matter of minutes.
The real fun comes from using the game's video tutorials to get into the nitty-gritty of track design, though. Great circuits are made by fine-tuning them--using different track materials, adding shortcuts, and placing items--all of which takes imagination and a lot of practise. Thankfully, you can jump in and test tracks at any time, or watch how the AI copes with your creation from a bird's eye view. As with Little Big Planet, the only limit is the building budget--every item has an overhead, but the ceiling is generous and you can be resourceful by replicating the same item rather than using lots of different ones.
ModNation Racers has clearly learned from other user-generated content-based offerings, so sharing is woven into every area of the game. You can choose which of your own creations you want published online, assign your own keywords so people can find them, and decide whether people are allowed to remix them in the future. Item downloads, views, and ratings add points to your Create XP rating, which helps you rise up the ranks as a creator for other players to find. Thankfully, players are already adding content in droves, meaning the game is populated with classic '80s TV show cars, homages to Mario Kart tracks, and even a playable Mod fashioned after Jesus Christ.
The single-player campaign boasts challenging AI, but rewards you with lots of extra content.
The cute and colourful visual style suits the creative nature of the game well. The mod and kart designs are charming, the tracks are varied, and the frame rate remains high even during splitscreen. The soundtrack is made up of generic video game pop, and while it's not particularly memorable, it keeps things light during the menus and the gameplay. Sadly, there's a really big problem that affects all of the game modes--the incredibly long load times. The quick nature of the racing is spoiled by prolonged periods of inactivity--often about 30 seconds between races.
ModNation Racers boasts some of the most impressive creation tools yet seen on a console, and the active community is already using them to make excellent content. It also makes sharing content completely seamless, constantly promoting a stream of new material to your console. The single player career can be difficult, and the long load times quickly become a bind, but ModNation Racers succeeds in providing outstanding online sharing facilities and great multiplayer fun.