Vancouver’s United Front Games creates innovative PS3 hit

If Little Big Planet and Nintendo’s Mario Kart franchise mated and had a kid, they might name it ModNation Racers. And, as one might expect given the gene pool, their kid would grow up to be quite the success.

United Front Games, which we crowned the 2nd largest gaming developer in B.C. behind obvious titan Electronic Arts, recently launched perhaps their ultimate feat: a Playstation 3 blockbuster, ModNation Racers ($60).

We’ve been following United for a while—in fact, ever since they announced a partnership at E3 last year with Sony to collaborate on this very game. Then we did a preview of the game in April. Now it’s out, and it’s as great as everyone expected.

The game, which has the fun, vibrant graphics and gameplay style of the classic and tremendously popular Mario Kart series, also boasts Little-Big-Planet-esque features such as character customization, racing track customization, and global online sharing.

One of the producers, Don Sochan, recently spoke with The Province on how the game came to be, and what beliefs they put into it.

“When we started up, we wanted to do something no one else was doing,” Dan said. Dan admitted it was “exceptionally hard,” particularly creating customizable tracks, because “there are so many special-case exceptions that can cause problems.” But the team wasn’t under-equipped; they have been building virtual tracks for years, some handling big-league projects like EA’s Need for Speed games.

The concept for ModNation began three years ago in May 2007, and three years of hard work developing a great game has paid off—especially in the creation aspect of the game.

“Some people’s creativity … has blown us away,” Dan remarks. “Some of the stuff they’re doing boggles your mind.”

The game is undeniably a success: The Province ended up rating the game an impressive “A” on Paul Chapman’s “Numb Thumb” rating system, and online retail stores such as have the game rated a stunning 4.8 out of 5.

Keep up the great work, United!