ModNation Racers: Road Trip
: SCE San Diego Studio
: Sony Computer Entertainment
: PlayStation Vita
: February 22, 2012
Sony PlayStation exclusive, ModNation Racers comes speeding onto the Vita with ModNation Racers: Road Trip. Road Trip is the sequel to the console counterpart and is one of the Vitaís few racing games aiming to please the speed demon in all of us. Road Trip delivers what you liked about the console version but along with a few twists for this handheld entry.
As the player you take control of an ambitious thrill seeker who enjoys the fast paced action of competitive racing. Yet another racing tournament has sped down the alley and itís time to show off your racing skills once again in an effort to win the gold and bragging rights. Basically, if the original gameís single player campaign mode was something you enjoyed, you should feel right at home here with Road Trip.
While it doesnít boast the full high definition graphics of the PlayStation 3 game, Road Trip still looks like eye candy on the Vitaís appealing five inch screen. The characters and the diverse race tracks are all splendid in color and design. Thereís plenty to see and enjoy here and the possibilities can seem endless when the very theme of the game is to modify your own characters and the tracks they compete in. The only drawback to the graphics system is the slight lag during races when a lot of action is happening on the screen all at once. Itís not terribly game breaking, but itís irritatingly noticeable when you have a set speed going and the character and environment try to catch up with your input.
If you enjoyed the witty banter of the ModNation Racers hosts, theyíre actually not present this time around. Thatís too bad given the cartoon aspect that the game goes with. The humorous race announcers wouldíve been a welcome return as they provide feedback on the frenetic events taking place. In any case, you should be familiar with the rest of the sound effects and music if youíve played the other game. Engines roar and hum, rockets burst with loud pops, and the jet engines whizz each time you boost.
Having played the original ModNation Racers, I can tell you that the control scheme transfers over to the Vita just fine. The Vitaís smaller buttons may take a little getting used to, but you should have no problem picking the game up and heading into your first race. Like the Mario Kart games before it, you can drive into these orb objects that give you an item to give you an edge in your race. This time around, in Road Trip, the items have been given particular colors, so you understand one item from the next, which makes getting the odds in your favor more practical and easier. Like the previous game, items donít necessarily have to be used upon getting them. Instead they can be upgraded from strong, to stronger, to strongest. That is, they can be stacked up to three times before you can use them. The more upgrades to your item there are, the more powerful your item will be. So instead of sending an unguided missile to the kart in front of you, you can make it so that you have the ultimate explosive weapon that can take out multiple targets.
In terms of defense, you can deploy a protective shield for a limited duration. The duration of the shield depends on your boost gauge. The boost gauge can be filled when power sliding or pulling off midair tricks after launching off a ramp. The boost gauge obviously isnít limited to making a shield, but can provide you with an ongoing burst of speed. So itís always good to know you have a method of defense in case youíre attacked from behind, say with a homing missile. Incoming threats can be distinguished by a progressive buildup of noise which signals when the appropriate time is to get a shield up.
A feature absent from the first game is the ability to drop items onto the racetrack from behind you. This would be useful when another racer is right on your tail or a good way to keep traps in wait for your opponents. This feature is absent. Iím not sure why it was omitted from this game, but it was a good gameplay mechanic suffice it to say.
Thereís plenty to get started on from the get go. You can either head into the career mode, which spans up to 30 racetracks, all of which you can attempt to come in first place, or you can head directly into the modification part of the game that should be equally entertaining.
Some may find a game breaker in Road Trip in the form of load times, and boy does this game have load times. When youíre finished getting your ideal kart and character together itís time to raceÖ after the loading screen lets you jump into a race that is. You might find yourself waiting over 30 seconds before the racetrack and accompanying information has booted up, which could possibly bore you rather than get you pumped up for the race ahead.
Designing your own racetrack using the Vitaís unique hardware is as much entertaining as it is seeing it happen before your eyes. Creating a racetrack is achieved primarily with the use of the touch screen and the rear touch pad. The front touch screen is used to carve out a path, while the rear touch pad can be used to erect hills or mountains by exerting pressure ďupwardsĒ so to speak. Itís actually quite cool to see your work executed in this manner. Moreover, rubbing the touch screen repeatedly can also create craters in the ground. The creativity in creating a racetrack can seem virtually endless if you allow your creative side to take over. Even advanced designers are sure to have a treat designing rather complicated, but equally amusing ways to have a race.
Another great feature Road Trip employs is the ability to download user created content such as karts, racers, and racetracks just like in the console version of the game. Is there a video game character, maybe a cartoon character, you want to play as? Chances are you can do a search and find something that matches what youíre looking for. This is one of ModNation Racers strong suits. You can pour so much creativity into this form of modification alone.
ModNation Racers is the ideal cartoon racer to take online with friends or other fellow racers for the PlayStation 3. Unfortunately, Road Trip doesnít share the same online functionality with its console counterpart. The game features a local multiplayer mode, but if youíre hoping to take it online on the go for instant racing with gamers all over the world, youíre out of luck. Instead what you can do is complete races with your best time possible to see if you beat your friendís time by comparing with the gameís leader board. Thereís another downside to this as you have to have an internet connection at all times when playing like this. Letís say you have only the wi-fi version of the Vita, youíll be out of luck if youíre taking a bus to school or work, at a restaurant without a wi-fi hot spot, or moving out of range of your ideal internet connection. Itís a bit of a double edged sword howíd you go about enjoying this game online. Itís a shame because ModNation Racers has a very fun online multiplayer but the fact that Road Trip doesnít get to share that feature is a bummer.
Finally, with near, the Vitaís social network, you can download things from racetrack goodies, to spare parts for your kart should another player with the game happen to pass by the same area you currently occupy.
ModNation Racers: Road Trip is a good game to own for your Vita if youíre seeking a fun filled cartoony racer. If what youíre looking for is the portable equivalent of the console game, thatís not what youíll find here exactly. Still, the game is plenty fun. The racetracks will increase in difficulty as you progress, so a challenge does exist in the game. Creating and tailoring a racetrack the way you want it is very fun and creative. The added use of the existing ModNation Racers library of custom made characters and karts are sure to keep you busy for hours too. Road Trip will make a good addition to your Vita collection.