Reader Review: ModNation Racers

Reader Review: ModNation Racers

Do you have what it takes to get a review published right here on Kotaku? Dana does, as she takes her mohawked avatar for a spin in ModNation.

Yes, that’s right, we’re now publishing reader reviews here on Kotaku. This is your chance to deliver sensible game purchasing advice to the rest of the Kotaku community.

And thanks to the very kind chaps at Madman Entertainment, purveyor of all kinds of cool, indie and esoteric film, the best reader review we publish each month will win a prize pack containing ten of the latest Madman DVD releases.

This review was submitted by Dana Koch. If you’ve played ModNation Racers, or just want to ask Dana more about it, leave your thoughts in the comments below.

ModNation Racers (PS3)

Some have likened ModNation Racers (MNR) to the LittleBigPlanet of kart racers. I’m not sure it’s an exact comparison, but MNR is a bunch of fun to play regardless. Caveat: I have not tested online racing features here, but I’m writing from a perspective of someone who generally hates online play but is up for offline multiplayer.


Experience And Gameplay: The amount of detail put into the races, tracks, mods (read: avatars) are extensive, and all the races are smooth and seamless, leading to a very enjoyable and immersive experience. There’s an enormous amount of little touches that make a game really “pop”, for example: burning tyres if you start a drift that goes for a long time, mod animations when you get stuck falling in water, and so on. This is even before looking at the detail in the creation tools. It’s quite a good kart racer, and feels a bit more down-to-earth than, say, Mario Kart.

Creation Tools: Creating new mods and karts is a lot of fun as well. The tools allow for a great amount of creative freedom: while, for example, you don’t have the ability to apply a “mohawk” hair style, you are able to build something close enough that still looks fantastic, even with the starting set of items available to you. The track editor is easy and intuitive as well; there’s a great satisfaction to driving around on your own tracks and your own environments.


Unlockable limitations: The amount of bits and pieces you are able to use in your creations – somewhat like in LittleBigPlanet – has to be unlocked through meeting certain conditions in campaign play to use. That’s fine, though you only see grey silhouettes from the creation tools, leading you to wonder what the unlockable items look like, or which race you need to play to even try to get it. A preview function would be nice, at least.

Online ModSpot: As mentioned above, I generally hate online play, and like to have as little interaction with other online players as possible. But the only way to actually get anywhere in the game is to use the ModSpot, where all online players move around a little track to areas where they can start different modes of play, ie. drive to the Creation Studio to start creating. While the concept is great, it did bug me a fair bit, and unless you disconnect from the Internet there’s no way to turn this off; a simple option in the menu would work. Yes, I know I’m probably a special antisocial snowflake for wanting this and feeling this way, so take from that what you will.

ModNation Racers is a really fun game overall, and though there’s a lot of small problems with certain parts I didn’t cover (such as long loading times) that thankfully don’t really harm gameplay, they do grate somewhat. I came away with a smile after this one, and that’s what counts – but patience may be required in some places.

Reviewed by: Dana Koch

You can have your Reader Review published on Kotaku. Send your review to us at the usual address. Make sure it’s written in the same format as above and in under 500 words – yes, we’ve upped the word limit. We’ll publish the best ones we get and the best of the month will win a Madman DVD prize pack.


  • Yeah i love this game.
    It gets hard VERY quickly but when you do finally win that race the feeling is totally worth it (if you ever played Mario Kart 64 you know what im talking about).

    Its been put aside for RDR at the moment but definately coming back to it in the future.

    Oh and you didnt mention the offline split screen 😀

    • I wanted to say much more, but that 500 word limit is so irritating! Split screen is indeed awesome, but there’s another annoying drawback about it: other players have to upload their mods and then you have to download them into your account for them to use their mods in split screen. Another example of a minor gripe that gets in the way of what would have been a really smooth experience.

  • I found the game “pretty good” but have a tough ride in single player because it’s just so hard.

    Then I played recently three-player offline and it was one of the most fun, wildest gaming experiences ever.

  • I agree, great & fun game but a few complaints are;

    The ‘lobby’ area should be offline by default unless you enable it.

    The game gets too hard. it’s a kids game ffs. Many, actually, TOO MANY games are guilty of these crazy difficulty curves… start off easy, then half way through, get too hard and kids give up. Christ, even i found some of the races hard.. especially when you’re forced to finish first.

    For a game about creativity, all the mod pieces, ramps etc.. should ALL BE UNLOCKED from the start, not rewards from the single player game. You’re paying $100 for a game and getting %50 of the content. Unless you’re an absolute gaming god you will never unlock all the car bodies etc which is extremely frustrating.

    So fun game let down in a few key areas that developers should bloody know better by now. It’s 2010, not 1995 when this shit was tolerated.

    • See, unlockables aren’t so bad, but in LBP, you can see them and you can work your way to getting something awesome. But you don’t have this in MNR, it’s all a surprise, and that doesn’t feel as natural as it did in LBP.

  • RE: Having to drive around… you don’t. There is a menu accessible in Mod Spot. From memory it is the start button; you can get to anywhere you need to go without having to drive anywhere.

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