I'm counting down my top 10 games of the year, mostly as an excuse to draw a bunch of these little designs for some great games. I'm going to post up one every day for the next 10 days, beginning right here, with Modnation Racers.
I've played every iteration of Mario Kart, and they're all pretty great (maybe with the exception of Mario Kart: Double Dash on the Gamecube, that one was only moderately great.) But considering the Wii is such a slouch under the hood, it seemed we wouldn't be getting a shiny new HD Mario Kart worthy of the current generation. But who cares? Since we've got Modnation Racers.
Generally speaking, kart racers that don't contain Mario's mustachioed mug are the butt of game industry jokes. You know a series has jumped the shark when the developers decide to give all of the characters giant heads and slap them in a kart racing game (meaning Call of Duty: Extreme Nazi Zombie Cartzzz can't be far off now), so it's great to see a fresh take on the genre.
While the included characters, karts and tracks are fun and very well crafted, the true stars of the game are the insanely deep creation tools. The sheer scope of things you can create is mind-exploding, yet the process of creating them is super simple. The ease with which an entire track can be created is amazing.
Of course, none of this counts for anything if the racing is rubbish. Luckily, it ain't. While not wildly different from Nintendo's efforts, the leveling of power-ups adds extra tension to races, and the handling of the karts is sublime.
Sure it's not perfect, it does suffer from long load times and some fairly intense difficulty spikes. The power-ups could also do with a little more variety. But it's one of those games I just kept coming back to, and will probably continue to do, well into the new year.