Vita Review: ModNation Racers: Road Trip

One can say a lot of things about how Sony has conducted business over the last year or so, but they should at least be given credit for persistence. LittleBigPlanet kicked off Sony’s “Play, Create, Share” initiative to relatively solid success but, outside of LBP the initiative has mostly stumbled and sputtered. Despite the general apathy toward the concept from the general gaming public, Sony continues to drive the initiative as a focal point for their direction in games and have brought the first Play, Create, Share game to the Playstation Vita with ModNation Racers: Road Trip.

ModNation Racers: Road Trip brings a solid kart racing experience and a robust creation system to the Vita. While the game still features a weirdly uneven level of difficulty, Road Trip plays quite well. And unlike the PSP version of the game, which featured an awkward and sometimes painful control scheme, playing Road Trip actually feels good. The creation system is easier than ever to use, utilizing both the front touch screen and back touch pad. And most importantly the game looks great on the Vita’s OLED screen, giving creations that extra sparkle, something many of the developer created courses lack.

But this is all to be expected, after all Road Trip is the third entry into the moderately popular series. However, despite it hitting on most of the key ModNation Racers points, something about the game just seems off. The easy excuse of course is to blame it on the lack of online multiplayer and to be sure, that does have some effect but there is a bigger issue beneath the surface.

Ever since kart racing took off the genre has been dominated by mascots. This made quite a bit of sense because it was easy to infuse the personality of the core franchise into the kart racing spin-off. This allowed even the worst of these titles to have an inherent appeal and built in fan base. ModNation Racers took a different approach, launching a new franchise relying on a brand new world with its own unique cast of characters as well as user generated content to infuse the player’s own personality into the title.  Regardless of one’s opinion on how successful this approach was, there is little denying that ModNation Racers had established its own personality. Road Trip however, lacks that personality.

The story mode, with its the oddly charming cast of characters, has been stripped from the game.  Gone are the frequent cut-scenes detailing the absurd rise of Tag, the humorous banter between the announcing team and the general sense of presentation. In its place are cumbersome menus and a simple tiered career mode. The developers have stripped Road Trip of any ModNation’s personality and when coupled with the complete lack of any online multiplayer, the game just feels hollow.

ModNation Racers: Road Trip lacks polish. It feels like it was rushed and pushed out the door to launch alongside the Vita. It does not matter how great the tracks are, and there are some very good ones, nor does it matter how good the driving is, and it is pretty good. What matters is that the game has stripped away the core tenants of kart racing and without them it just is not fun.

Pros

  • Visually appealing
  • Robust creation system

Cons

  • Lacks personality
  • No online

2/5

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Author: Chris Scott View all posts by
Chris is the Reviews Editor here at Vagary as well as the co-host of The Perfectly Sane Show and the Movie Dudes podcast.He is long time gamer and film fan that also happens to be full of opinions and a desire to share them with others, even if you don't want to hear them.