ModNation Racers (PS3)

Sony Computer Entertainment

How can something so cute be so absolutely awful?

Hey, you! Yes, you! Do you hate yourself? Of course you do! Why else would you be here? Plus Minus Infinity is proud to introduce our review of an exclusive title for the PS3 by United Front Games. It's cheeky, it's go kart racing, it's Mod Nation Racers!


What with its humble origins of what I assume are the ramen juice stained desktops of UFG developers, ModNation Racers makes a wonderful first impression. Showcasing deliciously slick visuals, its colorful design, cutesy yet detailed, is refreshing in our gritty obsessed era of game design. I'll shut my goddamned whore mouth now and let some screenshots and a video do the talking.


Standing out is this game's juvenile fixation with hip punk culture, as seen here with this punk rocker douche who smokes in the bathrooms of 80's high schools.

Sony Computer Entertainment
A minor blight on the extensive list of questionable design choices permeating this game is the main background music. A loud hippiy-hoppity number sang by chipmunks, it errs on the side of one of the most irritating noises on the planet. I'd provide a sample of it but your health is my number one concern... for the duration of that joke. Now here's the music twice as terrible as that joke.

You'll get a hot ear dump of that devil music each time you switch game modes, a issue made worse by the game's excruciatingly long load times. The upside is that you can completely mute the bloodletting garbage music and the game retains its adorable design cues with none of the ear hemorrhaging. Besides, once you get passed punk themes, bad music, and loading times, you're gonna have a blast! From a shotgun... into your own face.

But before that enjoyable rant begins, let's explore ModNation Racer's other surprisingly good qualities.


No joke, there are some fun things to experience in this game. They're hardly redeeming qualities but I'd be a liar if I didn't tell you that I've spent hours designing my racer and go-kart. Now u can't create your own car bodies, but you do have a wide selection of designs, colors, and graphics to choose from.



Jaguar E-Type? Awesome!

There's pages upon pages yearning to be drenched in your creativity juices, for both your racer and your go-kart. This game goes a step further by allowing you to save and upload multiple designs for others to download and race.

Sony Computer Entertainment, LZS
"Dude where's my kart?". Here's a whole page of cross-brand anarchy.

Lamely, your choices won't affect your racing attributes at all. That sounds like a missed opportunity since franchises like Call of Duty flourishing due to meaningful customization, but I suppose UFG favored an even playing field instead of one where he who has the best combination of power ups rules the world track. Besides, purely aesthetic customization beats none at all.

The coolest customization, though, has to be the track editor. The level of detail allotted mirrors Far Cry 3's map editor, its learning curve just as steep. I personally couldn't make shit with it because I failed out of mechanical engineering years ago ("Fuck you dad, I'm going to be an internet blogger!"), but there are plenty of cool, custom tracks online for you to race on. Here's footage of a particularly awesome track probably designed by someone who once called you "butt muncher" on Halo 4.

On tracks like that, (Which is a goddamned baseball diamond if you didn't notice) multiplayer racing yields genuine smiles when drifting between sweeping turns and boosting past your opponents. I don't always enjoy ModNation Racers, but when I do, it's like finding out the sticky stuff underneath a bar stool isn't gross bodily fluid, but tasty bubblegum instead.

Single player racing, of which you'll spend most of your time in order to unlock customization bits and bobs, pits you on different circuits with vastly different tracks. Each track has power ups like in Mario Kart where you must drive through an entity to gain a power. The difference is that there's only four power ups with three tiers of power each: a missile, a speed boost, and a lightning bolt, and a blue force field that, on it's third power tier, acts as a Blue Shell from Mario Kart.

This simplicity in power ups should allow you to focus more on racing, but the truth is that when you use a rocket salvo on a CPU player, it's no more useful for victory than suspension is for getting students to focus more school. I'll circle back to this in a moment. I'll circle back to the power ups thing, I mean, not to how this blog meagerly fills the hole in my heart where a master's degree should be.

Thankfully, there exists a split screen mode! How about that? Alas I was unable to try it out because I wish to keep the friends that I have. I'm just kidding, I have no friends. Jesting aside, the fact that UFG doesn't require you to buy an entire console just to play with your flesh buddies is incredibly generous. Kudos to UFG. Man, if only I could judge this game based on that fact alone.


What makes this game atrocious is its ferociously nasty CPU players throwing any and all weapons specifically at you the instant you gain lead in a race. The hell with you expertly nailing the apex of each turn in the track, rockets will be up your ass faster than a pack of confused wildebeest in heat, tormenting your excellence in racing mere feet before you cross the finish line.

Horny wildebeests killed Mufasa. It's why the screen goes dark after he falls.

Even on its most casual setting, this game flagrantly dicks you around. When you launch the same missile salvos that CPU players use to snatch victory, you should just shit yourself instead because then you'll be accomplishing something.

Difficultly wise, this game lies somewhere between rocket surgery and not touching yourself for lent. It barely passes as an unfettered turd as there's at least a self-destruct option should your kart get stuck in the middle of a race. I used it all the time, and I personally would love for it to work in real life too after hours of CPU trickery reducing my racer, and my sanity, into kibbles and bits. In such case, repeated self-destruction feels like the right thing to do. Which is totally cool, since suicide is really fun in video games (Especially when it's Grand Theft Auto).


It's only once you crest the peak of this poop game can you truly appreciate how  the wreck of ModNation Racers extends beyond the game itself. Through unprejudiced application of maddening bullshit, shameful and inexcusable for a PS3 exclusive, UFG has created yet another game stigmatizing the PS3 as a console lacking appealing exclusives. Such games are either half-assed or unheard-of niche titles, with ModNation Racers sitting uncomfortably in the middle.

If it seems that I'm harsh on this game, then that's great as that's exactly what I'm aiming for. Console exclusive games should not play like rushed ports (Excuse the oxymoron, will you?). The rage inducing difficulty ranks it right up there with Mirror's Edge as the worst video game that I have ever played. I don't mean to brag about having played so many bad games, mind you, it's just after playing so many of them my scales of shit have swiftly shifted into a satisfyingly sharp sight of scrutiny. I know shit when I play with shit.


One could argue that Mod Nation Racer's wholesome terribleness is tolerable in brief moments between the asshole AI designed by dicks and the dickishly long cut scenes designed by assholes. But even such moments are best for trophy hunters that crave extreme challenges, and for those empty lives out there that just want to feel something. Excuse the oxymoron.


You can buy this game for a little less than a hamburger and fries from In-N-Out Burger on Amazon. Renting this game is no longer an option due to it's age but that may be a blessing in disguise.


...there's a track-editor mode, split-screen mode, and a campaign mode, each more terrible than the last?

...United Front Games is a co-developer behind the Master Chief Collection and, in turn, its flawless launch?

...the Uncharted series and The Last of Us are the only two notable, well known exclusives on the PS3?


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