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Modnation Racers reinvents kart racing by letting us recreate the game in a million different ways. This creative element is coupled with a great racing mechanic with only loading times impacting my fun.
The opportunity to dress-up not only my character and kart, but the tracks themselves makes Modnation Racers an irresistible proposition for me. This generation has given us a real chance to personalise our games and here it's never been easier. Not only can I quickly create new karts and characters, but I can then publish them online.
Already, the quality content coming from the community proves how powerful the game is - even if most of what is being created is a copyright lawyer's nightmare. The most popular are proudly displayed on a large pedestal and include an almost perfect Mario and a wonderfully cute A-Team van. All of these can be downloaded and used by others and I dream about the day that I am racing against a player using my Star Wars Snow Speeder pilot.
The racing itself includes 4-player split-screen and feels tight and easy - even if the addition of a shield and a boost button provide a some complication. I quickly adjusted and found the shield to be a useful foil to other player's cheap shots.
I have creations that I am proud to publish online
Online I can race my creations against 11 other players on readymade or community tracks. This is where the wisdom of letting anyone publish tracks falls down; not everyone can create a course that is fun to race on. The current vogue seems to be corkscrews which tend to lead to a lot of side-scraping instead of smooth and skilful racing.
I had most fun storming from the back with some well timed power ups or shortcuts. Modnation Racers is very obliging here, although there's no Blue shell to knobble the race leader, collecting three green boosts will catapult you close to the front of the pack - ideal for passing friends on that final lap. Even when the tables were turned, it never felt unfair, I was too intent on finding my own way through the pack.
Career mode starts very easy, but soon becomes pretty difficult. Unlike the multiplayer, it often feels as if the other karts are out to get only you and I often suffered multiple attacks in quick succession.
After all, if you want to dress-up, you need an extensive wardrobe
Despite a little disgruntlement over AI tactics, the structure and rewards system of the single-player was compelling enough to keep me playing. To advance to the next race, you generally only needed to place third in the race, but if you complete certain other challenges, such as score enough drift points you unlock additional creation tools. I found this mechanic very addicting, driving me to replay each race until I had harvested every last moustache or hubcap. After all, if you want to dress-up, you need an extensive wardrobe.
Modnation Racers lets itself down with long and frequent load times. The developers have acknowledged this and may potentially address in a future patch. It's a shame that this wasn't looked at before release though because it did impact my enjoyment.
There have been many kart racing games since Nintendo invented the genre on the SNES and they have been of widely differing quality. Modnation Racers can be added to the list of greats and is probably the best example of this generation. Fir customisation and dressing-up fun though it stands head and shoulders above the rest. I'll be enjoying other people's creations long after the original content has grown stale.
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