Speed. Control. And occasionally being upside down.
Nadeo’s Trackmania games have been a mainstay of the time-attack arcade racers library on PC for quite some years. There have been a couple of understated releases of Trackmania games on consoles over the years, but they have never really hit the mainstream. That is, until now, with the release of Trackmania Turbo on Xbox One and PS4, along with the PC release.
Trackmania Turbo is a racing game, that much is obvious. However, unlike most racing games that will have the player competing against other cars on the tracks, Turbo has more in common the Trials games in that the player will spend the majority of their time competing against themselves to finish a track and get a medal. Each track has three target times which the player can beat in order to get one of the three medals on offer.
Playing through the campaign mode, players will face off against a total 200 increasingly difficult tracks which are available in blocks, and new blocks of tracks are unlocked as the player achieves a set number of medals.
The tracks begin relatively easily. The majority of the tracks last less than a minute, with only a few that require multiple laps and thus last a bit longer, and getting the bronze medal will not stretch the average gamer, making Trackmania Turbo great for a more casual approach, at least in the beginning. But the difficulty quickly ramps up, as does the requirement for progression, and it soon becomes a case of retrying each of the tracks, trying to shave of milliseconds to reach the next tier of medal, and instantly restarting after every small mistake, which is fortunately only a button press away. What begins as a bit of quick-hit, casual racing fun quickly quickly evolves into the kind of high-precision, split-second decision arcade racing that would appeal to the hardcore crowd.
A lot of this difficulty, and indeed fun, comes from the track designs in Trackmania Turbo. Sharing more in common with roller coasters than any real world racing tracks, players will find themselves facing drift banks, tight corners, obstacles on the track and massive loops where the player will have to not only compete with gravity, but also a sudden switch to the first-person view. On top of this, there are booster pads that will send the car forward at a breakneck speed, and even points where the engine is turned off and the player has to rely on whatever speed they have already built up to reach a point where the ignition turns on again.
Control is another point that will prevent achieving gold all the time. There are different environments in the game, and different vehicles to match those environments, but all of the vehicles have something in common – precise, and sometimes even twitchy, controls. While not difficult to get used to, the controls of the different vehicles will take some time to master, which will be essential for shaving the milliseconds from a run needed to get that elusive gold.
I would imagine that many players will never manage to finish the full 200 tracks available in the campaign mode, simply because they become so difficult. However, every player will be able to at least unlock most of the tracks thanks to a medal Joker system that will allow fake medals after a few attempts,ensuring that progress can continue.
But there is so much more to the game other than the 200 campaign tracks. Another thing that the Trackmania games are well known for is the ability to create your own tracks. The track editor in Trackmania Turbo is pretty comprehensive, allowing for both a simple approach and a fairly in depth approach to creating tracks from scratch. There is even the chance to generate a track randomly. Any of these tracks can be shared among friends or even with the rest of the Trackmania Turbo community. This, with the possibility of trying out tracks created by others, gives the game a massive amount of possible content for those who are looking to test their skills.
Further adding to the content, Trackmania Turbo offers a wealth of multiplayer options. Both online and local multiplayer is available, with the majority of the competition involving asynchronous racing against other players’ ghosts. Highlights include a competing against 99 ghost cars at the same time, and Double Driver mode in which players must work together to get around the track. As far as content goes, Trackmania Turbo does not come up short.
Trackmania Turbo is a great looking game, packed with entertaining content and some incredibly imaginative track designs. It may be a bit too difficult for the casual market and too arcadey for the hardcore crowd, but if you fall somewhere between these two extremes, the arcade time trials of Trackmania Turbo offer a whole lot of enjoyment.