What parents need to know
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.
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?
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.