ModNation Racers PSP
Published by: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developed by: SCEA
It’s great that the PSP version of ModNation Racers is available at the same time as the highly anticipated release of the PlayStation 3 version. Not every gamer will have been fortunate to own a PlayStation 3 yet (£200+ is still a lot of money for a console when all is said and done) so those who only own a PSP will definitely appreciate Sony’s effort to bring the game to both systems simultaneously. All things considered, ModNation Racers is an enjoyable kart racing title and must surely be one of the better ones on the PSP. The experience isn't quite as intense as the one found in the PlayStation 3 version of the game and it's not as smooth a ride for deaf gamers here either.
ModNation Racers for the PSP offers a choice of three modes: Single Race, Career and Community Race. Single Race allows you to choose from three race types: Pure Race (no weapons involved), Action Race (where weapons are available) and Last Kart Standing (races where the last placed racer is periodically eliminated). Community Race gives you the option of participating in either Ad-Hoc or Online races. The heart of the game is the Career mode which sees you progressing through five different championships.
The races in this Mario Kart styled racer are pretty enjoyable but it has to be said that they aren't as intense affairs as they are in the PlayStation 3 version of the game. Part of the reason for this is that races only have a total of six competitors and this does make the races feel less dramatic and to some extent less challenging. The steering is handled either via the directional buttons or the analogue stick. The handling feels a little stiffer in this version of the game and the drifting isn’t as smooth as in the PlayStation 3 version but I have to say that with a little practice (using the directional buttons), I had no problem with the game’s controls.
What helps to differentiate ModNation Racers from the other Mario Kart styled racers out there is its suite of customisation tools. You have access to a Mod Studio, Kart Studio and a Track Studio. The Mod Studio allows you to create custom designs for your avatar and you can make them look as ordinary or as crazy as you wish. Kart Studio allows you to create your own custom kart using the available chassis, engines and bodies. You can also decorate them as you see fit too. As you’d expect the Track Studio allows you to create your own custom tracks and as with the other customisation options, your imagination is the only limiting factor. The real beauty of all this customisation however is that you can share your creations with others online.
In regards to the game’s presentation, there’s little to fault. The PSP version even manages to have pretty good load times that put the PlayStation 3 version to shame. The customisation options are impressive too and you never get the feeling that they’ve been compromised in any way to accommodate the limitations of the PSP hardware. Some of the textures are rather bland and disappointing but I suppose that's the price you have to pay for keeping the frame rate smooth and it has to be said that the developers have certainly done well in this respect. Whilst the sensation of speed is decent, it’s not quite the same as in the PlayStation 3 version.
Whilst the PlayStation 3 version of ModNation Racers was annoying in that you couldn't enable subtitles before starting a new game, at least it had subtitles. The PSP version of the game doesn't have subtitles at all and as such deaf gamers will miss out on all of the game's dialogue which really robs you of a lot of the game's character. Of course the game is still perfectly playable but missing out on the dialogue is really disappointing. If you are in the position to go for either version then this disappointment is enough to make the PlayStation 3 version the only one to purchase.
The absence of subtitles and a less intense racing experience make ModNation Racers for the PSP an inferior version of the game. However, it's still one of the more enjoyable racers on the PSP and those who only have access to Sony's handheld will enjoy what's on offer. The load times which were quite unpleasant on the PlayStation 3 version are nowhere near as long on the PSP version so you won't be hanging around when you want to use the game's impressive customisation features or when you're waiting for a race to start. Essentially then, if you're a fan of Kart racers, you'll appreciate what ModNation Racers offers on the PSP but on the whole it's not as enjoyable for deaf gamers as the PlayStation 3 version.