For a racing fan the past several years have been mostly disappointing. The genre has been stuck in a cycle of progressing only in realism and ignoring why a game like Mario Kart is so popular: People want to see wrecks. It’s the reason NASCAR is beloved by so many farmer tanned, musical jug playing southerners. So combining the semi-realism of Project Gotham Racing with the weapons of Wipeout becomes a recipe for success. Enter Blur, Split Second, and ModNation Racers. Each takes a new approach to the popular cart-racing genre.
Blur removes the kiddy carts and replaces them with the real-world cars of any man’s dreams, while Split Second uses fake cars that are clearly inspired by real vehicles and adds environment specific attacks. ModNation Racers, on the other hand, takes the tried and true Mario Kart formula and complements it with extensive user tools to customize every aspect of your racer, car, and build whole new tracks.
Although very stunning and exciting, Split Second loses its appeal after you see the same disasters for the umpteenth time. The lack of traditional weapons to create carnage anywhere you please has hurt the replay value tremendously.
Contrarily, ModNation Racers’ creation tools give this LittleBigPlanet-on-wheels staying power. If you’re like myself, and lack the creativity or attention span to make your own content, you will thoroughly enjoy downloading what the large and imaginative online community has to offer.
Tea bagging: not just for Halo anymore.
From the bunch, Blur is where my attention is focused. There’s nothing like the feeling of hunting your rival down and shoving him into the guardrails with a Barge. I consider it the tea bagging of racing games; nothing is more frustrating for the tea-baggee, yet so satisfying for the tea-bagger. Moreover, the stat tracking and challenges, a la Modern Warfare 2, keep me coming back for more.
For the meantime, Mario Kart (the current king of carts) can rest easy on its throne atop the hill of failed cart racing games of the past. But the rejuvenation and innovations in a stagnant genre will hopefully bring a truly ambitious game that merges the uniqueness of each of these titles.