ModNation Racers Hands-on from GDC 2010

By Garnett Lee, Mar 11, 2010 2:00pm PST ModNation Racers (PS3) is close to coming out, and while neither developer United Front or publisher Sony will say exactly when, the version I played here at GDC shows a lot of those final improvements that tell me it's about ready.

Most importantly, the racing has come up to speed. I raced two of the 28 tracks that will come with the game and nothing interrupted the flow of the race. With the action smooth on the screen I was able to drift corners right on the line I wanted, maintain control while boosting, and fire off weapons without worrying that they'd throw me off.

The track creation tools have also come a long way. I found it much easier to select what I wanted to, move, and then position it. The simple addition of a new lasso selection tool for grabbing groups makes life much easier when trying to clear and area. And when tweaking road alignments, playing with environment textures, and adding props like ramps and launchers everything just worked so much more smoothly.

Though it's sometimes hard to tell what resulted from public betas, the ModNation Racers beta directly led to the team getting the four player split-screen mode into the final version. And they're glad they did. Since adding it, that's become the most popular way they play the game back at the studio. There's some reduction in detail but sitting with three other gamers here playing it we never stopped to notice that. We were far too busy racing and talking noise to distract each other. That was the promise I saw in the game the last time I played it. Nice to see it coming through as it gets close to release.

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