ModNation Racers

Common Sense Media says

Fun, customizable kart racing, but watch online voice chat.

Age(i)

2
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Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

ModNation Racers is about competing in fast-paced, over-the-top races against either cartoon opponents or your friends, which can foster a spirit of friendly competition. You are rewarded for slowing down rivals using weapons, but it's clearly a cartoon game without any overt messaging.

Positive role models

You play as a graffiti artist named "Tagger," though he doesn't actually "tag" anything in the game. Little is revealed about our hero, so it's difficult to discern much about his personality other than that he's competitive and likes to race.

Ease of play

ModNation Racers is very easy to control on the PS3 version we tested, putting much of the emphasis on the analog sticks and trigger buttons.

Violence

This video game features cartoon violence not unlike what you'd see on a Saturday morning cartoon, such as tossing bombs at other drivers or zapping them with a lightning bolt. Rival drivers appear to be temporarily stunned by the attack. There is no other violence in this game.

Sex
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that ModNation Racers is an "Everyone"-rated game for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable. It is no more violent than a game of Mario Kart, with action consisting of cartoon weapons and high-speed races. There is some minor off-color humor, such as a driver who picks his nose and flings it at another driver and a scene where the commentator gives a driver a "Spock" pinch on the neck to make him pass out. Note as well that this game features open voice communication and profanity-filtered texting during online play. Common Sense Media does not recommend open online communication in games for pre-teens.

Parents say

Kids say

What's it about?

Fans of kart racers -- those over-the-top cartoon driving games that let you use weapons to slow down opponents -- will find Sony's latest offering a fresh take on the classic formula. Personalization is the name of the game in MODNATION RACERS, as built-in tools let you easily create your own unique racer, kart vehicles, and tracks, and then share them with others online (not unlike what Sony did with LittleBigPlanet). While designing your own track might sound difficult, you simply pick from one of the preset themes -- seaside, desert, jungle, or alpine -- and then twist and turn the road by pushing the Sony PlayStation 3 controller's analog sticks in a given direction. You can also drop down buildings, bridges, animals, or environmental eye-candy (lakes, sunsets, or mountains, for instance), or select "auto populate" for the game to do it for you. Your custom-built track can be used immediately and uploaded to the PlayStation Network. You can also download the highest-rated tracks made by other players and modify them, too.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

This pick-up-and-play racer will be immediately familiar to fans of the genre. Rip around some wild tracks (peppered with ramps, shortcuts, power-ups, and obstacles); drift around sharp corners and press the boost button for a quick speed burst; and select a weapon to use to on rival drivers to temporarily stun them (such as missiles or electric bolts). The controls are tight and responsive. Along with the single-player modes are multiplayer options that allow for two gamers on the same TV or up to 12 players online. Finding people to race against is easy with the intuitive lobby system.

There are a couple of minor issues with the game, such as frequent loading screens and not enough weapons to choose from, but overall ModNation Racers is a blast. Note: A Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP) version of the game is also available, but was not tested for this review.

Online interaction: This game offers rich multiplayer options, including the ability to share content by uploading and downloading custom creations. Note, though, that it supports open voice and text communication, which could lead to the sharing of personal information and conversations with inappropriate language and subject matter. Note that text chat has a profanity filter, and voice chat can be disabled by setting the PlayStation 3 console's parental controls to level four.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why there aren't more "E"-rated first-party games for the Sony PlayStation 3. Do you think Sony's audience is older than that of the Wii? Even if it is, do you think older players can't have as much fun with all-ages games as younger players?

  • Families can also talk about online safety in games. This game holds appeal for children, yet it offers sophisticated and open online communications. You may want to discuss the sort of subjects of conversation in which kids shouldn't engage, and what to do when confronted with unpleasant online personalities.

Game details

Platforms:PlayStation 3, PSP
Price:$59.99 ($29.99 for PSP)
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Sony Computer Entertainment
Release date:May 25, 2010
Genre:Racing
ESRB rating:E for Cartoon Violence, Comic Mischief (PlayStation 3, PSP)

This review of ModNation Racers was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 15 years old Written bymastermack June 21, 2011
AGE
6
QUALITY
 

Great game, flaw in online safety

The only problem with this game would be the fact that you must disable parental controls to go online. This enables both voice and text chat. You can disable the voice chat from the in-game options, but not the text chat, and the filter on the chat is easy to circumvent.

Parent of a 4 and 6 year old Written byCountryMom27 January 10, 2011
AGE
8
QUALITY
 

Only for older kids 8-9 and up - very hard to play for young kids

Requires a lot of use of the buttons on the controller - making it much too difficult for most children under 8. My kids found it frustrating and hard - and while they've played racing games with the Wii, the fact that it is not Move-enabled and that it requires a lot of button work (shields, shooting) in addition to steering, braking, and accelerating, made it very difficult and not fun. I'm a pretty decent gamer and I couldn't play it well.

Adult Written bycmbrm June 2, 2010
AGE
8
QUALITY
 

Cannot go online on PS3 without allowing full voice chat

first off my son likes this game, the single player is very hard and frustrating for younger gamers but I got him a 100% save from the internet and he spends most of his time building tracks and cars which he loves. He also likes racing the easier tracks and with friends he has over.

The biggest issue I have is that with any parental controls on his account he cannot go online. I would have to enable full voice chat in order for him to connect. The problem with this is when you go online there is basically a home room with a handful of other people zipping around and you can hear anything they might say through a mic. All in all this is a pretty bad design decision for this game and with a 7 and 9 year old I am not willing to turn chat on for them. I am hoping they fix this soon but the above review implies that you can get online with voice chat disabled and at least on PS3 that is 100 % incorrect

What other families should know
Too much swearing

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