E3 2011: ModNation Racers hands-on preview

Seconds. Yes, seconds. Those ticks that eventually make up a minute are how long it takes to build a track in the PSV’s version of ModNation Racers. Granted, the track may be a bit barren, but the onset of two touchscreens for Sony’s latest handheld bring about the best way to further Sony’s Play, Create, Share dynasty: by making tracks even easier to create.

Sure, making a track in the original ModNation Racers was never all that difficult to begin with, but now the process is lightning fast thanks to robust touchscreen controls. At Sony’s pre-E3 press event, we were shown a specific portion of Racers’ track creator, titled the Draw mode. You’re presented with a blank pad. Taking one finger, you simply draw a track with a couple of curves and complete the loop by ending up at the same spot you started. You’re only allowed so much track length, which is directly related to the system memory, but you can shape it however you like. Once you’ve completed the basic loop, you’re instantly transported to a more zoomed in, almost car’s eye view of your creation to continue the editing process.

There, you’re presented with a simplistic menu above your actual track for editing on the fly. We tapped Bank on one of our corners and swiped upward, which tilted the outside edge of our track up – that’ll help the racers stay on the road, obviously. Simple. To continue the bank around a portion of the track, you tap and hold “Copy Selection” and push the left thumbstick forward, which will create a long banked corner of track. Want to add a bump in a straightaway? Just tap Bump and drag upward, creating a bump in the track. Simple. Intuitive. Easy.

The demoer zoomed out our track for us and selected Props to fill in our Alpine valley and barren track. He selected Trees for us and let us swipe the infield and surrounding track. Soon, trees began to sprout up. We were able to add houses just as quickly, making our track appear to be in the midst of a charming Swiss town.

Next we popped in to race around our newly created design and well, it handles just as well as the previous versions. There’s still a reliance on drifting and the controls don’t feel markedly different. Basically, the awesome new feature in this latest addition of the franchise is its ease of use.

One lastcool bit: all 2 million+ tracks created with the PS3 version will be available for the PlayStation Vita version. Sadly, you can’t share PSV tracks backward with PS3 folks. Still, it’s a sweet tidbit and gives you a bunch of potential races as soon as ModNation Racers PSV-style launches.

Jun 9, 2011

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