That Sony should look to exploit the karting genre is no great surprise, but that it would look to meld the multiplayer excitement of a game like Mario Kart with the creativity of LittleBigPlanet is something very new. ModNation Racers was revealed at E3 and we finally got a chance to look a little closer at the game.
The first thing to mention is the versatility and variety of what's possible in ModNation. The developers believe that character customisation is so variable as to be virtually limitless (apparently they tried counting and they couldn't make sense of the final number). It's all been inspired by vinyl toy culture so you get a basic, blank cartoon shape and you can decorate it and personalise it however you like. You have the usual eyes, ears, beards, mouths and so on, but you also have horns and gladiator helmets. Every character you make can be uploaded to PSN so the whole world can enjoy it and it's hoped you can save as many as 100 if not more designs on your hard drive. The files are really small, so it's not known yet exactly.
All of this customisation goes for the cars to starting with a rather sporty looking kart. From here you can make monsters of the road or even things that look like they're knocked together in a garden shed, maybe even made from the garden shed. Anyway, the really interesting part of the game is the track building and things are no less fun there. The building system is much simpler than in LBP, but then the mechanics of a karting game are simpler than a platformer. If you've seen Kodu on Xbox Live Indie Games then we would say the menu system of track creation is similar and very easy to pick up. In around 15 minutes with the game we managed to create a large desert track with big mountains, camels, markets and even some sneaky shortcuts. Lord only knows what we could have done with more time.
Gameplay-wise it's as you would expect. Because everything in game is based on a robust physics engine not unlike LBP we found some of the control a little challenging. It's not as floaty as a Mario Kart game or the upcoming Sonic kart offrering. It is, however, very fast and very good-looking and you can experience your created tracks at any time, which is really handy. So, ModNation Racers is definitely one to watch.