A long, long time ago (roughly a decade in the gaming world), user-made content was all the rage, fuelling the communities behind gaming titans such as Quake and Duke Nukem. But as consoles became the de-facto platform for gaming, this element all but disappeared. Then Sony struck gold last year with LittleBigPlanet, which gave its players more tools than a hardware store that crashed into a truck factory, spawning millions of user-created maps online. Hoping that lightning strikes twice, Sony has now rolled out ModNation Racers.
This is a kart game, which means it eschews notions of realistic driving in favour of drifting around corners and launching absurd weapons at other racers to get ahead. Think Mario Kart or Crash Team Racing and you get the idea. But Modnation’s edge is that it lets you create not only your own racer and kart, but entire tracks as well. Though not a new feature in itself, the game makes it so easy to create large and challenging tracks that thousands of user-made races have already appeared online. The track-creation tool is stupidly easy to use, yet has a lot under the hood to keep more detail-crazy creators happy.
The game itself is a good, solid kart racer – perhaps not the best of the pack, but competent enough to keep players coming back. It’s definitely the best on any non-Nintendo platform and the multiplayer options overtake anything the Wii can offer. Admittedly it’s not nearly as robust as LittleBigPlanet, which allowed you to do nearly anything within its genre, but the fact that you can have a full track up and running in less than three minutes will go a long way to taking players beyond the confines of simple racing. The sales and community participation already confirms that Sony has done it again, so if you like karts in your racing diet, give it a spin.