It's one of the higher-rated tracks, crafted by the hands of a budding race-course designer. We're dressed as Kratos from the God Of War franchise, driving in the Ghostbusters car. Both are works of art in there own right, rated five stars by the community. The Joker's just in front of us, the writing "Why So Serious?" emblazoned across the boot of his car. We time a missile, and knock him out of the way. We're on the road to victory. We're playing Modnation Racers.
The recent Modnation Racers beta has taught us a couple of things: a) Sony's Play Create Share mantra is yet to even touch its potential; b) Modnation Racers is a whisker away from perfection.
As a beta, we obviously expected imperfections. Imperfections there are in Modnation Racers. The controls feel a little twitchy for a start. Something's just not quite right there yet, and we urge developers United Front Games to reconsider (and play some more Mario Kart). Secondly, the frame-rate is pretty atrocious, dipping and stuttering far too often. But lastly, and most importantly, UF has to get the load times down. Like, they need to be cut in half - perhaps even more than that. Fix those three areas though, and Modnation Racers could be a huge sleeper-hit for Sony.
With the Play Create Share mantra already well established by LittleBigPlanet, Modnation Racers builds highly upon the concept in a kart racing scenario. The lobby system, also known as the Mod Spot, offers a quick route into the action. Think Crash Team Racing and you'll get the idea. The Mod Spot is occupied by various other racers, each identified with their unique car and Mod skins, aswell as news from around the community.
A big aspect of Modnation Racers are its user-creation tools. You're able to completely reidentify your Mod, and make some pretty creative recreations of popular characters. Pop them up onto the server, and your creations will be available for download and rating. Download a popular Mod, equip it, and everyone will be able to know where that Mod came from. There are even a host of stats for each Mod you make. It's amazingly detailed and, honestly, feels like a step-up from what LittleBigPlanet started. It's not just characters you'll be creating either, as you can make cars and entire race-tracks. Race tracks are incredibly easy to craft (or totally complicated, whatever you prefer) and include complete Hot Lap and Time Trial leaderboards.
At this stage, everything about Modnation Racers feels right apart from those loading, framerate and control issues. If United Front already have a game this good with six or so months left to polish, we're very excited about the game's chances indeed. This could evaporate a huge chunk of our time. And we're absolutely ready for that.
If you were ever a Mario Kart or Crash Team Racing fan, your attention should well and truly be piqued.