TrackMania Turbo is an easy to learn, hard to master time attack arcade racing game with over 200 tracks and four different and gorgeous environments. Are you ready to test your skills and challenge your friends to reach the perfect racing time?
Available on: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows (tested)
TrackMania has been around for years as a PC game and has a huge following. It is a franchise that knows exactly what it is, and relishes in it. That is exactly why not much has changed mechanically since the last edition. Returning players and fans of the genre will find exactly what they love about the title: a game with a gameplay that is all about nailing the perfect line on short but wildly varying tracks, with instant restarts and minimum loading screens to keep satisfying our addiction.
Where it has change, and for the better, is in the visual and sound department. Environments are colorful and pretty detailed. Even the Canyon environment, with its otherwise dusty reddish-brown cliffs, is gorgeously lit by the sun and features huge signs, LED screens, blimps, helicopters and more. There is a good contrast to the green grass, fields and gravel tracks of the Valley, the tropical Rollercoaster Lagoon and its ludicrous rollercoasters, or the neon infused International Stadium. It doesn’t matter where you’re racing or how picky you can be with the graphics, TrackMania is gorgeous.
Each location is not just aesthetically different, but also features a slightly different style of driving and demands on the player as well. While slippy in some environments, the car is a lot grippier on roads compared to that of Canyon, which you can happily send into wide, sweeping drifts. You will also need to do sharp and precise adjustments even as the track twists and turns away from you in all manner of directions, and that contrasts with the wider tracks that you will tend to find in Stadium. Jumping back and forth can be a little tricky, but TrackMania lives by the mantra of being easy to learn but difficult to master.
That plays perfectly with the compulsive nature of the game’s time attacks. Even in the easiest of the five difficulty levels, there are a few tracks and gold medal times that can be tricky to best. One thing worth of mention is that every single track is usually doable, but every little mistake that you make along the way will cost you precious time, more often than not making you to lose that precious gold medal.
Unfortunately, it is not just your own addiction for gold medals forcing you to perfect each track. It is the very own game’s progression demanding it. You unlock tracks in blocks of ten, going through each of the environments in turn at a given difficulty level, however to unlock the second set of tracks you need to have ten bronze medals. That is simple enough, but the middle difficulty Blue Series then demands that you have silver medals for all the previous tracks. And if you didn’t guess it already, the most difficult Black Series requires all gold medals. And we are not even talking about Trackmaster medals…
There is some hope for those who just can’t get that gold medal, no matter hard or how many times they try. TrackMania Turbo allows you skip tracks with a Joker system. If you fail to beat it three times, you can simply skip it and get a gold medal. Unfortunately it defeats the purpose of trying your hardest in order to get into the hardest tracks, because you always know you can simply skip them. I wasn’t happy with that. TrackMania features the perfect genre for gradual unlocks, where you just need a few specific medals to keep unlocking new levels instead of giving them away.
It also means that you can’t really appreciate all that the game has to offer. If you can’t do a huge leap off a cliff that requires precision down to the degree, gravity defying loop-the-loops, abstract ramps and driving along walls, you will find yourself skipping everything. With a simple gameplay like this, harder tracks just means mixing all you have done so far. Nadeo have done a really nice job of keeping thing mixed up and interesting, with some devilish layouts that almost feel like puzzles to solve, but if you skipped the easier levels and are unable to complete easier tracks, you are doomed.
There are a few goodies to make TrackMania Turbo competitive and fun. There are the single player’s ghosts, but you can also pit yourself against the times of your friends in the Record Centre or create and take part in specifically created Challenges, which can span several tracks. You can also head online for 100 player multiplayer mode, which is a blast. Nothing really prepares you for the sheer madness that is trying to race against 100 other ghosts all at the same time. There is an added satisfaction to knowing that you are beating these people in real time, or the dismay at seeing how fast someone passed you out of a corner.
The title also offers local multiplayer with four player split screen, pass the pad in hot seat, and a unique gem I found myself having tons of fun. It has the Double Driver mode, with two players given 50% control over every input of the car. If you both steer in opposite directions, then you go straight, but the mode engenders communication and cooperation to try and take on whatever fiendish track lies ahead of you. It’s actually a lot easier than it sounds because you’re both most likely to be giving the game similar inputs, but it’s still a lot of fun.
And then we have the user created tracks with Trackbuilder. On the simplest level, you can let the game generate a track for you at random, approve it and get racing, but you also have three levels of tools to let you create your own masterpiece. The beginner and normal toolsets are fairly basic, but they let you quickly bolt together your own track in a fairly intuitive fashion. The advanced tools are much more intimidating and confusing to start off with, thanks to the twin radial menus that are introduced for item selection, but once you get the hang of them, it seems as though you’ll be able to create tracks every bit as complex and mindboggling as those created by Nadeo.
TrackMania Turbo is a must for fans and lovers of the genre. With a strong focus on both online and local multiplayer, unique modes like Double Driver, and the huge following already creating a virtually infinite number of tracks, you are set for countless hours of fun.