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Dreamweaver avatar 12:29 PM on 02.08.2011  (server time)
Groundhog Day: The Glory: ModNation Racers

Name of the Game

"Play. Create. Share."

"It doesn't make sense to me... What does it all mean?" Well, I'm pretty sure many of you guys are familiar with that: It's one of the more famous mottos that some of the Sony exclusive games are using to describe themselves, such as LittleBigPlanet . So I bet you're wondering: How could you NOT know what it means? Yes, I'm very well aware of how painfully obvious it is, but sometimes you gotta realize that as obvious as the answer may be, sometimes you just need to look at it differently.

Are you familiar with the saying "The glass is half empty/ the glass is half full?" Essentially, it means that despite being the same thing, you can view it as two separate perceptions of it. So "Play.Create.Share" probably means just that to you: Play the game, create a level, and share it with the whole. However, while I'll be saying the same thing, here's my perception of it: Play the game, create the memories, and share THAT with the whole world. Because after all, we may be playing the same game, but we aren't playing it the same way.

And so, appropriately, I quote Kid Cudi when I say this to start my blog: "I'm off on an adventure."

"What's up, how's everyone doing? You are now in the world I'm ruling."

You know what I hate about gaming today? That everything's so connected to the online world that it's not even funny: If you aren't hooked up to Xbox Live or Playstation Network (lovingly shortened to XBL and PSN respectively), then you're missing out. For the modern age, that was a good thing, kinda like a REVOFEV (Revolution of Evolution). I mean, you could now play against people all over the world, linking into the Social Network (not a song reference, but I managed to work that in).

However, the more gaming integrates with the internet, the more it can hurt, like a double edge sword: With new downloadable content (DLC) becoming much more mainstream, it's hard to get the most out of your games because you're denied content that in some cases should've been on the disc. In some extreme cases, not downloading a patch may prevent you from playing it. An example of this was Assassin's Creed for the PS3, where without a patch, the game was essentially a glitch riddled cesspool. I still love the game, don't get me wrong, but I shouldn't have to be online to enjoy this classic to its full extent (it's a great game!). Another would be Metroid: Other M , in which I didn't stop because of the story (I liked the melodrama...) but because of some bug that stopped players cold in their tracks.

So what if I want to enjoy the game as it is? Think back to the classic generation: Did we have DLC? Did we have online (Dreamcast, if I recall correctly, sure, but stay focus on where I'm going)? No, we didn't, but was that a bad thing? No, that meant that we could see everything in the game that the game has to offer, like the multiple endings in Chrono Trigger (despite the fact I played it once. Yeah, a game that actually encourages multiple playthroughs still wasn't enough for me to go back). And definitely no giving us a half assed ending just to make us pay for the rest ("Let's have a toast to the douche bags...", Alan Wake and current gen Prince of Persia ). So what does it mean for me? What if, one day, when Sony eventually ditches the PSN support for the PS3, I just want to enjoy the game for what it's worth, and for what's on it?

Cameo characters not included in original packaging, must be downloaded. RAGE.

That brings me to the point of ModNation Racers . Having a game so well integrated with the online community is a great idea, but for me, the most enjoyment I got out of ModNation Racers was the story mode: Career Mode, where you yourself, or whoever you made, was a star. If you read my blog on Lost Planet 2, you'd recall that I absolutely ADORE games that feature characters in the cut-scenes. So imagine my excitement when I heard that your character, in his fully customizable glory, shows up in the in-game cut-scenes? I may be "Wild'n Cuz I'm Young," but it's always nice to see a game where creation is not just an afterthought, like in Soul Calibur 4 where your character was seen in like two cut-scenes.

Show of hands: Who here when they first got the game ran straight into the Creation Center? I know there's more hands than that! You, with the shifty eyes, I know you did too! Put that hand up, in fact, put two up for trying to lie! Alright, that's cool, but now then, show of hands, who was disappointed with how little stuff they gave you? I know the feeling, I felt like I had to earn the stuff in order to create stuff, kinda like spending money to make money. So that's probably what dragged me into Career Mode, to just grind through it to earn more stuff, but imagine my surprise on how awesome the story was, albeit being simple...

ModNation Racers features a story about a kid named Tag, a guy who dreams of racing and winning. Sure, before you can create yourself, you have to go through the ropes under the pre-defined skin of a kid wearing oversized goggles, but once the story allows you to become you, then it was amazing: You get to create not only your character in the way he looks, but you also get to choose the whip he drives by in. I wasn't the most creative person out there, so I have that generic anime, silent (he has no mouth!) street racer (picture included!) with an equally generic ride (not included, but to your benefit), but the fact is that he was my creation, and I love him with my heart (I even took a picture using the in game camera, transferred it into a computer and print him out, which is how I can show it to you).

My "Gorgeous" character design for the "Pursuit of Happiness."

So now, he's going to show up in all the in-game cinematics, which I thought was going to be decent, as the CG cut-scenes that the game was using before was nice and slick, but man, was I wrong: Your character isn't cut out of the cut-scene (like the pathetic PSP port where it's in first person) but rather, he's in there, like an actor on the stage! Again, I could play this game over and over again, just to see my character doing his stuff in the cut-scenes, and while Lost Planet 2 beat it in terms of adrenaline pumping, holy cow that's a big monster, movie style action, ModNation Racers had it where it's at: Humor and drama.

I literally burst out laughing watching these cut-scenes (which is no easy feat for someone like me), and watching my character become the star in most of these cut-scenes warmed my heart to no degree. I mean, seeing my character try to refuse the deal with Uncle Richard was hilarious, as well as seeing my character being showcased as a champion. And don't get me started on the pre-race animations... I recall seeing my character "Drive Slow" to the start-up line “Like a Boss" one time much to the chagrin of everyone, seeing my character so annoyed that he stomped on another racer's foot, and seeing my character get punked by some punk chick (she honked her horn when my character was sleeping to have him wake up, realize false fully that the race had just started, and crash into another racer). It was pure, innocent humor that didn't rely on potty jokes and adult humor that I love to show my kids one day should I get them.

And then there was the drama. I had became so attached to my character that when he signed over to Uncle Richard to become a sellout (due to a sabotage on his "boombox," what they call the cars), I became disheartened. That's like seeing your son grow up to be a murderer, like how Thane felt in Mass Effect 2 during his loyalty mission. And the fact that he couldn't be customized during this sequence was just heartbreaking... By not allowing me to customize him, he didn't just sign over his dignity, he signed over his soul. He was a generic racer, by the book, with no outlandish ride. Even one of the guy's most adoring fans, who'd been there since the beginning, looks down in shame. Oh Uncle Richard, how could you be so "Heartless!?"

My College Dropout

You see how much I'm getting into the story? Trust me, if you think this is getting too into it, I actually played through the whole game not once, not twice, but thrice (bolding was intentional) with all different character, not to mention replayed certain levels much, MUCH more. I literally loved this game not because of the addictive drifting mechanic, the upgradable weapons system, or even the thrill of winning first place: I loved this game because of the story. I loved seeing my character go from absolute zero "To the Same Heights" (bonus points for the correct anime song reference) as that fancy pants Expresso. I loved seeing him win that Trophy and sharing it with the Chief... It warmed my heart even today, and since I've replayed it dozens upon dozens, if not hundreds, of times, that's saying a lot.

Yeah yeah, I know that there's hundreds of thousands of levels out there (though not as much as LBP) and that I haven't talked about them once, but that's because maybe, just maybe, I didn't need it. The story, though short, was good in itself, and sometimes, that's all a good game needs. Say what you will about the horrendous loading times, the simple story... Whatever, that's cool that you have your own opinion, but for me, this game will be in my heart forever, as will the image of seeing my character Genesis win that Trophy for the Chief (probably because I played it so many times in a very dark room that it burned into my retinas, but hey, I'm not complaining).

So now that you know you're in the presence of a "Champion," roll out the "Red Carpet," because "my life is like a movie..." And I'm out.

"If you can't do what you imagine, then what is imagination to you?"

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