Modnation Racers Game

Modnation: An appetizing cocktail of entertainment and creativity.

Next on the agenda in the ever-expanding market for flash-based carting games is the somewhat quirky and determined-to-entertain ‘Modnation Racers: Mini Gp’. Now exactly what characteristics the game has in its possession for me to justify bestowing the label of ‘quirky’ upon it will be discussed at length below; from now until the time your eyes venture south  or indeed play the game itself, you’ll just have to trust my above description. Alternatively, you could let me tell you right now that this game has set itself apart from its competitors by offering a simple variation to your average online flash-racer:  Customisation

We’re not talking ‘Pimp My Ride’ levels of freedom here; our man Xzibit is nowhere to be seen and you can forget being ‘hit up’ with a custom 42 inch plasma, and responsibly discard those hopes for the chrome-effect spinners that you may have been counting on fuelling your midlife crisis. You most definitely are however afforded the opportunity to make alterations to your racing location, surroundings and scenery; you are also able create, decorate and add various obstacles to your own track. The game’s creators have made a conscious effort to make the surroundings suit your own tastes and preferences, whatever they may be, and this is considerably more than most other flash games have to offer you in the first place. And besides, a widescreen TV in the car would simply be impractical for competitive racing anyway.

I’ll take you for a quick spin through the ‘Quick race’ function firstly, and I’ll also promise to keep the remainder of the article free from terrible racing puns. The ‘Quick race’ function is for perhaps the busy, high-powered businessman-type player with neither the time nor the desire to customise their race who simply wants to whip a few times around the track and see what the game is all about. This mode is probably the first thing that most first-time players will click on to familiarise themself with the gameplay and feel of the physics of the races. Instructions are made patently obvious in between-race loading screens; the usual arrow keys give you your directionality, braking and reversing are achieved with the down button, acceleration with up and no race would be truly fun without a turbo function when one pushes down the spacebar, would it?

The track which you race on in ‘quick race’ mode is often purposely uncomplicated and remarkably easy to negotiate in order to get the player accustomed to the feel of the controls and the style of movement. I chose the word ‘often’ and not ‘always’ because the very beauty of the game lies in the fact that you rarely encounter the same track twice; instead, a track (customised by one of the many players around the world) is chosen at random, and this is the one that you play . This creates a refreshing sense of variety and the feeling that ultimately, the game is constantly changing and evolving, continuing to offer a plethora of choice to the player while never becoming repetitive; an achievement in itself for a title which involves repeatedly racing around a track in what would be a monotonous fashion if not for the unique features offered by the game.

 Movement around the tracks takes a little getting used to and initially feels as if you are in fact pivoting the track around on an axis while the car remains stationary; of course, this is not the case and is simply the nature of the would-be camera angle which is chosen by the game to follow the race. In fact, I prefer the general feel of the steering in this game to any others I have played before it. The controls are responsive yet fairly realistic around corners, even becoming sluggish and cumbersome if you lose control and career into the grass. If this is happening quite often, you technique needs improving or you may be unfamiliar with the concept of racing itself. I suggest a few more tries at ‘Quick Game’ before giving up your day job and racing with the professionals.

As a further demonstration of the innovative nature of ‘Modnation Racers: Mini Gp’, you are presented with the option to peruse tracks of other people’s creation which range from challenging and unique to the gently nonsensical and downright ridiculous. You’ll understand this more readily once you’ve played on a track that would in real life be too dangerous to actually race on. Not only can you browse through them like cars on a garage forecourt (sans the nagging pressure of a slimy salesman), you are able to race each one individually at your leisure. There are literally thousands to choose from and no two are ever the same.  Farewell traditional racing games, I’m breaking up with you for Modnation; and it’s not me, it is you.

 Once you start creating your own tracks, it is my hope that you will begin to see things from my extremely rosy perspective. It becomes obvious that in spite of its simplicity, the game manages to exist fairly high on the addictiveness scale next to nicotine and opiates. I’m not comparing the game to harmful narcotics, I’m simply trying to emphasise the game’s remarkable quantity of fun and replay value compared to its relatively small size. I actually found myself returning to it time and time again, and bear in mind that competetive racing games are fairly low on my list of favourite game genres; for want of a better way of saying it, ‘Modnation’ has more than gently tickled my fancy.

 ‘Start creating’ mode is where you begin to play the game for its unique features I’ve been describing. You first get to choose the theme of your track or the location in which it is based, with Alpine, Desert or Jungle being your options, and the fourth theme being advertised as ‘coming soon’ (the sense of mystery wasn’t overwhelming but I’ll be returning to see what the fourth option turns out to be).  The next step is to create your track with a handy drawing tool which is outrageously easy to use and allows you to create virtually any track shape within reason and geometrical/practical limits. Theme props and track obstacles are also a matter of your own personal choosing. After furnishing your track with the above items, you are free to race and save your track at your own behest, with no risk involved! 

The game appears to be the recently-born but fully-legitimate child of the more grown-up ‘Modnation Racers’ game for the PS3 and PSP; its features are of course more limited and stripped-down than its console-based counterpart, but we are dealing with a flash game with the sole purpose of giving the player a taste of the potential action they are missing out on; if you happen to be entertained in the meantime, then this is a desirable outcome for all involved.

Modnation is a simple racing game which easy to pick up but genuinely quite difficult to put down (put your desktop tower down; I mean this figuratively since I don’t own a handheld). I put this down to the interactive and ever-fluctuating nature of the game. You don’t simply race around a limited selection of tracks ad nauseum; you create, customise and use these efforts to change the game itself and keep it from falling into the category of many other racing games which offer little to no deviation from the flash racing norm. I must remove my hat in the direction of this game because never before has something so simple been able to impress or entertain me in such equal and hefty quantities. Don’t take my word for it; get customising and make Xzibit proud!