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A vehicle created within United Front Games' ModNation Racing video game. ((United Front Games))

Despite facing stiff competition from upcoming blockbuster titles such as God of War 3 and Assassin's Creed 2, a tiny Vancouver video-game maker stole the spotlight at Sony's annual PlayStation preview event with a racing title based on user-created content.

ModNation Racers, to be released exclusively on the PlayStation 3 by United Front Games in the first half of 2010, will let gamers create their own tracks — complete with scenery, buildings, terrain and weather effects —and share them over Sony's PlayStation network. Gamers will then be able download other users' tracks, rate them and modify or re-edit them.

The kart-racing title, which resembles Nintendo's Mario Kart titles in that it features colourful characters who can fight it out on the track in addition to driving around it, is the latest in a relatively new category of games that incorporate such user-generated features.

Blockbuster sneak peek

Watch Matt Levitan, Sony Computer Entertainment Canada marketing manager, show off some of the big upcoming games for the PlayStation 3, including God of War 3, Uncharted 2 and the new Ratchet and Clank.

Halo 3 for the Xbox 360 and Little Big Planet, also for the PS3, were two previous smash hits that made heavy use of user-created content.

William Ho, a designer for United Front, said this increasing customization is the future of video games.

"Everyone is going to expect some level of customization," he said. "We're empowering everyone to become a level designer or game designer.

"We've added easy-to-use but very powerful tools that allow anyone to create something in just a few minutes or in a few hours, or as long as you want to continue working on and refining your creation."

ModNation Racers is the first title from the Vancouver-based games studio, which was started two years ago. Ho said the studio began working on the game before Little Big Planet came out. That game's success made the decision to go with Sony an easy one, he said.

United Front's game stood out among attendees at the Sony event in Toronto on Tuesday, which also featured demonstrations of such hotly awaited games as God of War 3, Assassin's Creed 2, Uncharted 2, Lego Rock Band and DJ Hero.

Matt Levitan, marketing manager for Sony Computer Entertainment Canada, discussed some of the upcoming Sony-exclusive titles in a video found at the top right of this page.