Despite being a fan of racing games, I pretty much suck at them. While I enjoy racing games like those in the Forza and Gran Turismo series, my style of play (the kind where I drift into walls as a breaking mechanic) does not suit me very well with simulation racers, thus I tend to enjoy arcade racers a bit more. Three big racers came out in the past couple weeks and I’ve been spending my time with two of them, Split/Second and ModNation Racers.
Split/Second has been called reverse Burnout and that seems to be a pretty accurate description. Its fast paced racing on courses that explode all around you. As a driver you have the power to make it blow up in your opponent’s faces (or your own as I have been apt to do on a number of occasions) and they can do the same to you. Its pure insanity on the track and there is a real sense of speed to the cars. Personally, I have not had this much fun with a racing game since Burnout: Paradise.
One of the big complaints I’ve heard about the game is the AI rubber banding and it is true there is some serious rubber banding that goes on in the single player but being as the game is at its weakest when you are in the lead I haven’t really minded it in the 10+ hours I have spent with the game. While the AI issues have caused me to lose some races but while it can be hard at times I’ve never felt frustrated with the game.
ModNation Racers has been called Sony’s answer to Mario Kart but truthfully it is so much more. While the game is a cart racer the user created content is what makes this game stand out. First thing I did when getting into the game was download a Mario driver and a car for him to drive. I’ve recently settled on driving a black car of my own styling with Jason Vorhees as its driver. But drivers and carts aren’t the only things that can be made. The game is home to virtually unlimited tracks, and even I who couldn’t build a level to save his life in Little Big Planet was able to create a track with the help of its awesome track creator.
As for the racing, the single player game can be frustrating. It seems like you need to race a perfect race, something that is near impossible, if you plan on winning and advancing. Another issue I have with the game is that the controls just feel really loose and I kind of wish I could drive with the D-Pad instead of the flighty DualShock sticks. I will give it this though, drifting in the game is bad ass and pulling tricks off during big air is easy as eating pie.
Both games have multiplayer components but they couldn’t be more different. Split/Second’s online is rudimentary at best. It consists of three game modes and a archaic leveling system. The three modes are fun, especially survival, but the games devolve quite quickly into the have and the have nots. What I mean by this is that Split/Second allows you to race cars that you’ve unlocked in single player so if you have unlocked the best cars, you can race them against the choppy jalopies that everyone else has and generally it separates into two different races, those in the lead pack and those wishing they had spent more time in single player. If there is down point in Split/Second it is probably the multiplayer and sadly that really diminishes its overall value.
By comparison ModNation Racers allows anybody the chance to win through pure luck and skill. It is a blast to get on and play online with an online system that works very well. Mixed with a leveling system that encourages everyone to keep playing, ModNation’s online component is head and shoulders above its single player and I have a feeling Mario Kart may be shelved indefinitely. Both games though are a blast to play and if you are a racing gamer, these are two games you should be trying to give some time to.