PS Vita Review – ModNation Racers: Road Trip

SCE San Diego Studios has brought the ModNation world to the PS Vita. Modnation Racers: Road Trip is the first “Create, Play, Share” title to debut on the Vita, and the updated creation controls are ingenious.

ModNation Racers debuted on the PS3 and PSP a couple years ago and brought kart racing proudly into the PlayStation family. With a world of creation tools, and a fun career mode, the game gave you the ability to not only create your own mods, tracks, and karts, but also download other player’s creations as well. Add in the ability to race using these created items, and you realize that there are unlimited racing possibilities. The number of tracks available grew exponentially, and is still growing. The PS3 MNR world was separated from the PSP MNR world, and there was no cross-platform sharing. This created a bit of a chasm between the two communities, and if you didn’t own both, you were missing out on a whole other world of content.

ModnNation Racers: Road Trip builds on an already solid gaming series. Our former MNR driver Tag returns for a brand new racing career consisting of 5 tours, and 1 bonus tour, that gives us 35 new tracks. Each race has unique challenges that, when completed, unlocks new content that is stored for later use in the Creation Station. There are also collectible tokens scattered amongst the many tracks. Once collected, these tokens can then be spent in the Token Shop for more content. For those that don’t want to take the time to play through the career in order to unlock all of the items, you can purchase an unlock key on the PSN for $5.99, but where’s the fun in that?

Once you have plenty of items to work with, it’s time to head over to the Creation Station. Here you can create a new racer (called mods), a new kart, or a new track. You can also edit existing items. The Kart Studio and the Mod Studio both incorporate the touch screen and allow you to place and move decals around.

The Track Studio on the PS Vita brings with it some brand new, very intuitive tools, that have never been possible with other MNR releases. When creating a new track, you are given the option to either drive to create a new layout, or draw it with your finger. Drawing with your finger is, by far, the easiest and most ingenious method.

Once created, you can then populate your track however you wish, and can alter the track in a variety of ways. You can raise and lower the track with the touch screen. If you pinch the track by placing one finger on the front of the Vita, and one on the back of the Vita, you can slide portions of the track around. You can alter the terrain surrounding the track with the touch screen as well. Props are easily manipulated with the touch screen. When in edit mode, you can pinch them and move them however you wish.

ModNation Racers has always been about creating and then sharing those creations. MNR: RT takes this to a new level by not only allowing you to access content from other Vita gamers, but also gives you access to ALL of the content created by PS3 gamers. As a Vita gamer, you’ll have an incredible amount of tracks, karts, and mods to choose from, right from the start. Sadly, there is no option to download PS Vita-created content with the PS3 at this time, but hopefully that is in their future plans.

The one thing missing from MNR:RT is online head-to-head racing. This is available for both the PS3 and the PSP versions of MNR, and there’s really no excuse to not have it with Road Trip. There has been talk of adding this in via a patch, but not having it day 1 takes away from the overall community feel of the game. MNR has always been about sharing, and this includes sharing time on a track with others. There is ad-hoc racing available, but you’ll have to have someone nearby in order to actually share a race with them. Your only other option to be able to face off against an opponent is through their ghost times. You can jump into the Time Trial mode and see how you rate against other drivers and try to beat their best times. You have the option to race against the global leader or just the fastest lap time on your friends list.

Another unique feature available on MNR:RT is the Mod Explorer. As you physically travel around the world, you can check in at places along your path and earn special rewards. For example, traveling to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown, and Fisherman’s Warf can earn you 4 separate items that are usable in the Creation Station. Their are currently 45 cities, in locations around the globe, that can earn you these special rewards. Don’t let this scare you away though, as all items are unlockable over time. Each point of interest has a milestone that will allow their items to be unlocked and then gifted to the global community.

ModNation Racers: Road Trip takes a great kart racing series, and adds a much easier to use creating system. Touch screen controls make the track studio much more intuitive and easier to use. Not adding in head-to-head online racing is inexcusable in this day and age. While it doesn’t totally ruin the experience, it does take away from the overall series.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score

+ Creation controls are ingenious

+ Access to PS3 content gives an incredible amount of content

– No online head-to-head racing

7 out of 10