ModNation Racers: Roadtrip Review (PS Vita)
ModNation Racers Roadtrip is far from a great game, but it's also far from a bad game. It's definitely something in between, and depending on what you are looking for from the game, you will either find yourself incredibly pleased or disappointed with the title.
ModNation is a concept that sounds good, until you play it awhile then the star kind of fades.
ModNation Racers Roadtrip is all about the customization of your mod (driver), your kart and the world which you race in. The basic driving mechanics are fine, and tend to work pretty well. The racing within ModNation is probably a microcosm of the rest of the game's outlook -- there's nothing technically bad with the racing, and you can even have some incredible moments.
But there's simply nothing overwhelmingly awesome about the racing either.
ModNation is a kart racing game just like the rest in the sense that you race around oftentimes zany tracks, you get weapons and power ups, and you do everything you possibly can to win. In this way, ModNation is entirely formulaic on the track.
Your AI opponents are competent though, and on the higher difficulties they will give you a challenge. You are limited to just seven AI opponents on the track, so it won't ever get too busy. Perhaps my biggest complaint is that your racing opponents typically spread themselves out quite a bit, so there's hardly much more than one-on-one racing to be had through most of your experience.
However, your AI opponents will find the quickest way around the track, especially if it involves shortcuts that you might not find so obvious your first time around.
However, ModNation takes zero chances from where it's been previously when it comes to gameplay. It's achilles heel is that after a few races, you have experienced all of the variety in terms of races that you'll see. The rest of your time will be spend racing the same type of races among infinitely different locales.
The creation zone for tracks is incredibly well done with touch screen controls.
The touch screen interface just works with the Creation Options in ModNation. First off, customizing your kart using touch screen controls is how it always should have been. I am a newcomer to the ModNation series and I can honestly say it was refreshing to see just how well done the modification options are for your karts.
Customizing your Mod is also easy. Mine ended up having a barbed wire tattooed face, a hat and a few other zany odds and ends. Really, your imagination is just about your limit here, which is what you'd want from a customizable experience. ModNation neither limits nor gives you a crayon with no clear direction, it ends up somewhere in the middle, which is good.
If the ample track options already in the game aren't enough, you can also create your own using a new touch screen track creation zone. The track creation zone is my personal favorite because realistically, you could have unlimited replayability if you really dig the gameplay -- and with the touch screen controls, creating a good track is both a fast and fun experience. This will be a bit much for people who just want to race karts, but I found the experience kind of fun overall. One wonders how many people will buy a kart racer, a genre typically reserved for pick up and playability, only to spend a ton of time customizing their experience -- but it's a concept which does jive somewhat with this writer.
There are lots of unlockables as well in all three areas, so there is some incentive to play on so your creations can become even more awesome.
You can be like Mike....Jackson that is.
Other Odds and Ends
The career mode is pretty well done, although I personally didn't find too much value in it as it was a pretty standard put together package. You basically race, collect points for your finish in each race and you work your way up through the various circuits. There's not much risk involved here.
The sharing station is also cool, you can share your creations and download other people's creations. There are over 500,000 tracks to download online, so track variety is not a problem with ModNation Racers RoadTrip to be sure.
The big problem with the game, is that if you were to want to take it online to play against other gamers -- you simply don't have that option. This is a huge gaffe by Sony, because ModNation is the perfect title to introduce that sort of functionality to in order to show off their new hardware's online capability.
There are incredibly zany levels present in ModNation for sure.
ModNation Racers Roadtrip is my first foray into the ModNation series, and I'm pleased with it on some levels being a creative mind. However, the game simply doesn't take risks and simply plays it safe -- as the developers applied no depth beyond what you see on the surface. If you dig the game, there is infinite replay ability here, and if you are a creative mind, you'll also enjoy it. However, I can't help but feel the game is simply average. It's not bad; it's not great; it's simply there.
In the end, once you play a race or two of ModNation, that's about all it has to offer minus an infinite array of tracks and customization options. Each race feels like it runs together, which is a huge problem. If there was online play with cool options, ModNation might've been worth your time. As it is, even when the price drops, it'll be the type of game you might want to avoid adding to your library, even if you like kart racers.
Graphics: The game isn't pretty by any stretch, the details aren't really there either. It feels like this was an intentional stylistic decision, and the game looks smooth. But it's not going to overwhelm you with beauty.
Sound: The music and sounds are basic, and will get repetitive in a hurry.
Controls: I love the controls, using the bumpers to accelerate and brake was a well thought out process. This will likely be the standard for all Vita racing games in the future when it comes to controls.
Learning Curve: If you can't figure out how to drive your kart after about a lap, you're in trouble.
Entertainment Value: If you are a kart racer fan, you will probably find some enjoyment here. You'll love the creation options if you are a creative mind. In the end, you'll find there's not much else to the game beyond it's surface.
Score: 4.5 (Below Average)