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PSP Preview – ModNation Racers

San Diego Studios has been hard at work with ModNation Racers for both the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable. The demo for the PSP version was recently released, and many have been surprised at how much content has been packed into the game. Now that the final retail version is upon us, hopefully these positive qualities have carried over.

The controls in ModNation Racers PSP are easy to grasp and the races can get pretty intense against the CPU. You can pick up weapons, rockets, land mines, and more as you race around the tracks, and the diverse arsenal of weapons add a lot of strategy to the racing experience. First place means nothing if you just get nailed by a rocket and your cart is sitting in a pile of rubble two feet from the finish line. Drifting and drafting will help build up your boost, and completing a perfect lap equals a full boost refill.

The tracks included with the game range from way too easy to very challenging. Shortcuts can be useful, but keep in mind that your CPU opponents also know where they are, so not being in first on the first lap can put you in a hard place. Staying back a few carts and remembering where the weapons are is the key to winning in single-player. CPU opponents vastly range in difficulty. Some are incredibly aggressive and want nothing more than to wipe your cart off the face of the earth, while others are just trying to finish a lap. Improving your cart, or using one that you’ve unlocked, will help you to win more races and take the other guys out, so pay attention to what you are driving.

For PSPgo owners, playing with your PS3 controller can give you strong edge offline and probably should not be allowed once the online community is made available. The PSP version has most of the content that the PS3 version will have, but also has one mode that the PS3 version doesn’t. Elimination mode, coincidentally, eliminates the person in last place after each lap, and continues until only one racer is left. It is a very fun mode that should probably be added to the PS3 via DLC at some point. There are a couple of extra tracks as well for the PSP, and bonus PSP content for owners of both the PS3 and PSP versions which can be unlocked once the two are connected.

The Track and Mod Studios are easy to use and your options for creativity are excellent. There are unlockable items that you’ll earn as you progress through the story mode, and you can collect characters by taking them out during races. Different carts and different parts for carts are also unlockable, so these is a lot of content available when not even considering the vast amount of player-created content which the game is based on.

This is looking to be a high-quality PSP game that should give many hours of fun racing, creativity and competition. If you haven’t pre-ordered this game and have a PSP at your disposal, do yourself a favor and pre-order it right away.