Welcome to Respawning’s Games Club! The purpose of this is to get a bunch of us together once a week, to allow us the chance to chat shit about whatever takes our fancy in the world of video games and discuss what we’re currently playing.
With The Crew 2 and a brand new Gundam game racing onto our local store shelves soon, we decided to take a deep dive into those brilliant customisation systems that never fail to let us add that little bit of personality to our games!
Oh, goodie, a chance to rave about the most underrated title of the past generation! I speak, of course, of ModNation Racers!
This game devoured hundreds, maybe even over a thousand, of hours of my teenage years.
ModNation Racers was a PS3/PSP game that was to racing what LittleBigPlanet was to Platforming. But it was more than that- it had an energetic and fun atmosphere, a range of original characters that told a genuinely fun single-player story (including two announcers who provided banter throughout the game, and were honestly the highlight of the whole experience).
But, you want to know about the customisation system.
Essentially, you were free to build your own Racers, Karts, and Tracks from scratch. As you progressed through the campaign and completed special challenges, you’d unlock new stickers, ornaments, frames, wheels, clothes, etc, which you could then use to customise your character. My personal favourite custom character was named ‘Canvas’, and was an artist whose body and kart was covered in paint stains. I even made him a personal track, which consisted of a trip through a forest leading to a mountain range, with the idea being that these were environments he enjoyed painting.
The game without customisation was one of the best Kart games I’ve ever played (Controversially, I think it tops Mario Kart), but with the customisation systems intact that game remains firmly on my personal top 5 of all time. If they’d go ahead and make a PS4 sequel, that’d be lovely.
Customisation in most games, I hate to say, I see as an unnecessary hassle.
In the majority of games i play there will be some element of it, whether it being able to craft and equip armour sets in Skyrim, create somewhere to live in Fallout or have to build EVERYTHING in Conan there always seem to be customisation, especially in RPGs. So here’s the thing, i really don’t enjoy it.
In Fallout 4 I barely touched the homestead building unless i really had to, i couldn’t be fucked to waste time collecting materials for my home when i could be taking down the Brotherhood or hunting Mirelurks. Collecting/crafting the Dragon Bone armour in Skyrim was very fun but that was fuelled by the fact that it was one of the best armour sets in game, not for the thrill of crafting. And Conan… Well let’s say i enjoyed my first 15 hours with friends but haven’t touched it since, the scope of building was just too much and I didn’t see an obtainable end goal.
My… Dissatisfaction of these systems comes down to 2 things:
- Time. As always as an adult time is a factor. Often I’ll get in a few hours a night (Longer if the missus is out) and the thing is the time is limited, so I’d rather spend it completing quests and the like
- I want to explore the world game developers have spent hours creating for us, not spend time creating my own (This is also why I don’t see the point in modding). There’s enough there to see and do without trying to build my own shit. This may be a personality trait where i’d rather follow instruction or some such, but there we go!
So it’s not for me. And I’d never touch something like Minecraft where that’s all it is.
So this one is going to be a little out there. A long time ago, I got my hands on GTA: Vice City stories on the PSP. this game allowed you to build a Gang Empire. The process is simple. Take over a gang building, then place an operation in the building, ranging from whore houses to protection rackets to drug shipping. This idea came from the ability to deal with a gang war coming from San Andreas and mixing it with the many open buildings that could be entered in Vice City. While you could argue that the system doesn’t exactly have much too it, if you had played the game, and seen how many properties are available to take over and control, you might change your opinion. I do agree that the range of customisability is pretty small, and your always going to go for the building that makes the most money, but for a game that came out in late 2006, i recon it’s pretty good. If you fancy playing this game, you can still find cheep copies for PSPs and PS2s in some trade in stores.
I’m going to gush a little here and talk about three different types of customisation systems – Building, Character Customisation and Equipment Customising – Out of these three, building has to be my absolute favourite thing about customisation systems, and, whilst I can easily sink a good few hours into Minecraft, I can’t help but return to my original love, Dark Cloud 2 (Or Dark Chronicle for us Brits); building towns, painting roofs, adding accessories around and forming rivers and bridges and all sorts has always been my jam, and just makes me feel ridiculously involved in the world I’m playing in – I had high hopes for Ni No Kuni 2, and to see it’s customisation be nothing more than a few menu options really does disappoint me as I would’ve loved to build my own Ghibli kingdom.
Character Customisation has always been something I instantly go for in games like Soul Calibur – The ability to create whoever… Or whatever I want, no matter how ridiculous, accurate, or perverse it may be has always been a massive draw to me, especially with a good few beers and a couple of mates – Look no further than the online community for Soul Calibur V and the various fights between celebrities, brand figures and, in the case of Lyle McDouchebag, a horseman with a gigantic penis. Ahhhh. Brilliant.
Video credit goes to Lyle McDouchebag / Wrath Club – Check out their channel HERE!
Finally we have equipment customisation… Now, since Javier’s already covered Fallout 4 unintentionally, and surprisingly Ben hasn’t gushed about car customisation, I feel it’s about time someone talked about Need for Frickin’ Speed (Unofficial title) – Need for Speed Underground 2, specifically, as that game never fails to rock my urban street racing jimmies; customising cars with vinyl decals, sponsor stickers, spinning wheels, neon lights, tinted windows… The list goes on and on! Pick a famous car out of any film, and odds are you can recreate it at some point in one of the PS2 Need for Speed titles – My pick is the Toyota Sprinter Trueno AE86… Gives me a serious case of Deja Vu.