You don't need a DS to enjoy kart-racing fun on the go.
Not content to just give PlayStation 3 owners a chance to race, United Front Games also plans to release a PSP version of ModNation Racers, a kart racing game that doesn't skimp on the fun. We recently went hands-on with a preview build and were pleased with all its features.
First, the game retains the same creation tools from the PS3 version. You not only have the option to create your own driver and kart design, but also numerous tracks for them to race on. To do this, you select your area, lay down the twists and turns and then design everything surrounding it, like trees, buildings and obstacles. From there, you can touch things up or select auto-complete if you can't wait to race. In addition, you can share tracks with friends, either through AdHoc or Infrastructure, which gives you an unlimited number of levels to experience.
Still, this is all for nothing if the game doesn't play well. Fortunately, United Front Games did its homework, studying what makes some of the great kart racers out there (most notably Mario Kart) tick, and implemented that into the controls. It's easy picking up items and using them to your advantage, whether it's a shield to protect you from attacks or laser gunfire to bring down others ahead of you. Boosting and drifting is also available, allowing you to accelerate in no time. What ModNation adds to the picture is an inventive trick system, where you can perform spins and grabs to push your boost meter even further. There is some minor adjustment you'll need to make with the PSP's analog nub, but after a few laps, you'll get into it.
Then there's the presentation, and here's where we thought ModNation Racers would fall behind the PS3 version. However, the simplicity of the design really pays off, as this game looks like a true handheld counterpart. The character design and track layouts are mostly the same, and the game runs at a brisk, smooth frame rate, so you'll never have to worry about stuttering races. We have yet to try the game online (we're still waiting for Sony to take us on a test drive), but we definitely like what we see thus far.
Best of all, the PSP version has its own special advantages. A bonus mode lets you take part in an elimination race, where you need to retain a certain position in the match to keep going. At the end of each lap, the last place racer is out, so make sure you stay in or close to the lead. Finally, if you own both the PS3 and PSP versions (which both come out May 25th), you can also download additional tracks.
Gear up for ModNation, because it's right around the corner. The game's going through final testing as we speak, and should be ready to go once summer kicks off in late May. It should cross the finish line with flying colors.