ModNation Racers Post-Patch Impressions
I bought ModNation racers a while ago, completed most of the campaign but then held off completing it because of the impending update - I thought playing without such awful load times might be more enjoyable. Well, two days ago patch 1.02 went live.
How are the load times? Well, they are still long, but no longer unbearable. By Joystiq's calculations, the load times are 30% shorter than before, and this seems to tally with my experience. It's a small amount of time, but it makes a huge difference. What's better, is that during an online racing session the ModSpot no longer has to load after every race; meaning online racing is made a lot more enjoyable.
Other changes include an option to use "casual" difficulty during the campaign. I am divided on this. On the one hand, it's great that people who weren't able to complete the campaign mode now can. On the other hand, being someone who was perfectly able to complete the campaign mode as it was, even going so far as to complete some of the trickier challenges that got nerfed, I feel cheated out of reward for my ability. I would have prefered the new difficulty setting to disable trophies.
Another welcome addition was the fix of the glitch plaguing the hot lap, but come on UFG, using the reset button to glitch a best lap is one of the oldest tricks in the book; I easily worked it out without anyone telling me how it's done. This glitch should never have been in the game.
Now I want to say a few words about the game in general.
ModNation Racers is a fun, yet flawed kart racer. Drifting feels natural and online racing is exciting and fun. But, the weapons lack variety, and are overpowered (since you can charge any one of them up to become a weapon which attacks all opponents in front of you). The shield mechanic is inferior to other games where it takes the form of a weapon pickup - in MNR if you boost to get ahead, you are suddenly without a shield. This is a flawed mechanic. Couple this with the fact that every level-3 weapon will head towards you if you are in the lead, and you realise it should have been designed better.
ModNation Racers' creation tools are fantastic. I have seen all sorts of recreations, and most are of exceptional quality. The character and kart creation tools are incredibly deep and versatile. What a shame, then, that the track creation tools are pretty lacklustre. Other than the odd track where game objects are piled on top of each other to form the rough shape of something (I've seen a dinosaur and a tank), there is no variety in the levels. Sure, that dino level is great but it could never be themed with anything other than the default game objects. And with only 4 basic themes and objects which all appeared throughout the campaign, every race I play is as though I've played it before.
Other problems are functional - the track editor is a real pain to get working correctly - if you want to adjust where your track goes, you often can't without redoing it, if you want to change the position of your starting grid, you have to start again, and any kind of imaginative track layout is usually impossible without drastic workarounds which have limitations of their own.
Overall I'm enjoying ModNation Racers post-patch, and for me it's been a worthwhile purchase. But I think comparing it to the gem that is LBP puts it on a higher pedistal than it deserves. Its level editor is just that - a level editor that we've seen countless times before, frustrating and limited. LBP allows for a lot more creativity.