To the victor go the... parts for a new race track, a new helmet, and a new decal.
Every race you run will likely unlock new customization options in Sony's Modnation Racers: Road Trip. Every. Single. Race. Guess what?! If you're playing your PlayStation Vita on the go, you're likely to pick up even more customization options via Near.
Seriously, this portable offshoot of the PS3's popular build-it, race-it, customize-it kart racer will just not stop throwing new customization options at you. The game's career mode will start you off with a heaping helping of character items, kart parts, and race track pieces, but even after you've gotten through the game's pre-designed race tracks, there's more to unlock and use.
In a way, this can get exceedingly monotonous. I don't care about random helmet number 3. I don't care about oversized kart wheels. I want a specific piece to create my Spider-Man-themed race track and my Green Goblin driver.
The argument could be made that giving players so many choices provides motivation to have fun and run a ton of races, whether you're enjoying pre-made tracks or something you cooked up yourself. And Road Trip actually allows players to collect tokens scattered throughout the premade race tracks, tokens that can be spent in their shop for more content. Also, you can use real money on the PSN to purchase an unlock key for $5.99!
First, why the hell would I pay real dollars just for that one piece that makes my Green Goblin racer look like Green Goblin? That makes no sense. I'd rather just go on hating the game because it looks like I've got a stupid Son of Goblin racer from Spider-Man 3. Second, you need to put all of your go-karts on one track or the other. I should either earn tokens or unlock the pieces via challenges. Any combination of the two is just too confusing (see Call of Duty: Black Ops). Also, there's no online multiplayer.
Yes! It's true. Someone created a Kart racer for the PlayStation Vita, one where you would hypothetically take your unlocks and show them off online in a race against others around the world, but they didn't include online multiplayer. Even the PSP version of Modnation Racers had online multiplayer.
Asynchronos multiplayer via Time Trails don't cut it, either. If you've absolutely got to have a kart racer with your shiny new PlayStation Vita, then I suppose you'd be better off spending your money on this than on Ben 10: Galactic Racing.
The customization tools are easy to use, intuitive, and make good use of the Vita's touch panels. The racing is fast, fluid, and chaotic. When you're firing rockets at the racers in front of you, slamming into others trying to pass you, and drifting around a hairpin turn, Modnation Racers is at its best. It's just a shame that the entire game isn't about that.
Really! At first I thought it was too chaotic, but there's a point where you're doing a thousand things at once and it just clicks. Obtaining progressively more powerful items from subsequent pick-ups is a neat mechanic that actually builds on Mario Kart's original foundation. The ability to sort of melee your way out of the packed racing field provides much needed air, and there's a terrific sense of Wacky Races. It's just a shame that the entire game isn't about the racing.
Instead, Modnation Racers: Road Trip gets caught up in the huge pile of crap it's trying to hand you. Despite the well-executed customization suite and some entertaining gameplay, it feels like too many good ideas were buried under mountains and mountains of bullshit you never asked for and you'll never use.