Before saying anything else, yes.. as a lot of people will have mentioned, the loading times in this game can be lengthy at times. But not long enough or frequent enough to damage gameplay.
Now for the actual game. Aside from loading times, there really is VERY little to criticise here.This game looks beautiful when racing or moving around your pit-stop area. The ingame videos can look a bit off, but those are videos.
The controls are near spot-on, not perfect, but close to it. It can be a bit painful on your thumb to be making so many slides around corners, but you get used to it and you don't notice while playing due to the fun you have.
The main system for racing is to slide around corners, build up your boost and then use it. You can slide at any point, not just at corners. But the key is to slide when you can and boost away.
There are weapons to use too, or you can choose to use it as a sheild instead. It not quite as precise as shooting in (for example) WipeOut, but you can still hit people.
It has to be said, the AI can be tough, even on casual and you will find that you might be 1st in a race, get hit by a weapon and suddenly drop down to 5th really fast. But if you stick at it, you can win the races in at least 3rd.
There is an entire storyline, of a type, to play through here with the career mode and its done pretty well, teaching you the mechanics of the game as you go decently. You unlock and win extra items to use when modifying your car or player when doing the career mode.
There are challenges to complete during the career racers, which you get items for doing.
But I found the most fun is during online play, against real people, where you can either do a casual race or earn XP. You earn XP depending on your winning position, how many damage you do during the race, stunts and so forth.
Its easy to level up. Im not sure what you get for leveling up, as I havent gone far yet though.
Playing online racers is great and works fine. You pick an online race, you wait for players to join you and then its away. No issues at all during races.
The race tracks and locations are wide and varied, with speed boosts, weapons, hazards, bends, hills and so forth to see and experience.
Then we have the mod (or little big planet style) aspect!
You can basically customise your car, player and create a track from scratch in any way you wish. You can upload your creations to the PSN and let others share them, and download others too.
There are hundreds of car, player and track designs to download!
My only gripe is that they have obviously released. and no doubt plan, to release a lot of exclusive DLC packs which you MUST buy to access certain items in the customise area. But those packs are all that expensive, but its still a bit frustrating and an obvious way to make money from us.
All in all, if you ever wanted a Mario Kart for the PS3 this is spot on. Only a few small gripes, but nothing major enough to damage the gameplay. And ontop of that you get to build cars, players and tracks.