ModNation Racers gets better every time you play it. I was reliably informed this past weekend that I hadn’t spent as much time on a game I didn’t have to for months – I really couldn’t stop myself from racing and creating, having battered through the single player campaign and hand crafted a couple of great looking levels using the sublime track editor tool. Until recently, though, I hadn’t ventured into the normally (for me, at least) dangerous realm of multiplayer.
In too many games these days, split-screen gaming is either forgotten or ignored, and if by some fluke there’s some kind of local multiplayer functionality in there, it’s usually rather lacklustre and almost certainly a last minute addition. Thankfully, that isn’t the case with ModNation Racers, having spent a good hour or so testing out a good selection of both two player and three player races (sadly, I don’t have enough DualShocks to try out four player, but it’s fairly safe to assume it’s just as good).
Suffice to say, split-screen multiplayer in ModNation Racers is brilliant: the frame rate holds up just fine, the graphics still look great and the on-screen displays all shrink and shift to accomodate. Two player obviously gives you the biggest viewing window with the game splitting the screen into two horizontal strips, but three players is fine, and it retains the aspect ratio of the single player by throwing a map of the course in the bottom right window, too. The PS3 will make up the numbers (up to 4), too.
Sadly, there’s no photomode option in multiplayer (and currently no replays, either) but I did grab a few screenshots of the game in action, some of which are below. Regardless, I’m happy to say that if you had any hesitations about MNR’s ability to excel in splitscreen they were unfounded – it’s great, and of course no amount of fancy pants online hocus pocus can beat the thrill of having a room full of like-minded mates playing on the same screen.
I picked up a few tips whilst playing multiplayer too, although fans of the early beta will no doubt know all about these anyway. Basically, and I won’t spoil everything, but there’s a few moves you can do with the controller mid-race, such as double-tapping X to do a big jump (which is handy for avoiding obstacles). You can also shove the right stick to the side to nudge a passing opponent, and press Circle to use some of your boost as a shield – handy for incoming rocket attacks!
I’ll keep on at ModNation Racers, I’m loving the sheer amount of flexibility the game offers (pro tip: you can tweak your kart’s handling before a race starts in terms of acceleration, top speed, drifting and turning) and the level editor is something else, it really is. But even just in terms of raw racing, MNR is a cracker, and although a couple of the built-in tracks aren’t quite up to scratch, the point is that the ones you make can be anything you want them to be.
ModNation Racers is released at the end of May.