Compared to the glorious Mario Kart 7 - a title that took the kart racing formula, polished it to within an inch of its life, and tweaked the traditional experience for online play - ModNation Racers: Road Trip comes across as shonky and unimaginative, and will be a cruel disappointment for fans of the PS3 version.
While there's no question that ModNation Racers' core action is fun and satisfying, the PS Vita edition is tainted by framerate issues that see the graphics chugging and jerking when the screen is busy, which is unacceptable on such a powerful handheld. The loading times - often up to 40 seconds - are acutely frustrating if you're accustomed to Mario Kart 7's seamless action, and are made worse by Road Trip's awkward menu system which is poorly designed and makes it difficult to find what you're looking for. The track creation options, while dynamic and impressive, are let down by twitchy touch controls that take time to master, but what's most unforgivable about Road Trip is that it doesn't support online play, making for a lonely experience where you rarely get to test your mettle against other players.
More tolerant ModNation fans will be holding out for downloadable patches in the future that will fix the game's failings and allow it to compete with Nintendo's evergreen karter. But, for now, Road Trip is the most disappointing title on the PlayStation Vita, and a step backwards for Sony's colourful series.
Reviewed by David McComb