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Sep 21, 2011

TrackMania² Canyon Review

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5 Incredible
Retails for: $24.99
We Recommend: $24.99
  • Developer: Nadeo
  • Publisher: Ubisoft
  • Genre: Racing
  • Released: Sep 14, 2011
  • Platform: Windows
  • Reviewed: Windows

TrackMania has been a very popular series on PC for quite some time. Each release isn’t so much a revolution, as it is an evolution. This follows that trend and is a more significant difference from past entries due to ManiaPlanet, an all-encompassing system that will house TrackMania, ShootMania, and QuestMania. This is why you likely won’t see ManiaPlanet come to Steam due to the way content will be released. Launching ManiaPlanet now only launches TrackMania2 Canyon.

Once started, you have the option for SOLO PLAY, MULTIPLAYER, LOCAL PLAY, or EDITORS. Solo Play is the singleplayer with tracks the developers created split up into their own difficulties: White, Green, Blue, Red, and Black. Slowly increasing in difficulty requiring tight manuevering in order to get the best times. And that’s just it for the game, there is only one goal – get the fastest time. Though it has one caveat, the tracks get outlandish and absolutely insane as you progress. Soon enough you’ll be making unbelievable distanced jumps, going through loops upon loops, and even driving sideways or upside-down entirely. You can pick Gold, Silver, or Bronze (1st, 2nd, or 3rd) place ghost to race against – or none at all if you prefer. Once you’ve gotten a Gold, a Silver, or a Bronze – you are then ranked by country and then state and get points for an overall ranking. There’s no story, no background to why you’re racing. You just do. In this case, it’s just a canyon filled with sentient cars.

Multiplayer is the bread and butter of the series, and the reason why you play it. Over time, the series has become more social, not like Facebook or Twitter social – but getting with friends and making friends for racing on a server through varied tracks. Introduced to Canyon, is the ability to join Groups and find friends even easier. It’s extremely easy to find a server by region and join in with a potential other 199 people to race against for the best times. The designs you will come across will seem impossible, requiring you to hit that speed pad and hit a corner so exact to make that jump or go through the loop properly.

The Editors is what makes the Multiplayer so interesting. It’s driven the series for years, as you can customize the cars for your liking and make something a bit unique from the pre-set schemes. Though the most complex, despite having a Simple and Advanced Editor, is the Track Editor. Here you can design your own nefarious tracks to race on. You can just about make them as long or short as you want. Tracks can also be designed to have laps or just in a sprint fashion, point-to-point. As long as you are creative, you make something exciting out of the editor.

The racing itself has a different feel, as there’s more physics involved. Now instead of just turning corners, you can hit the brake hard to swing the car out and initiate a drift, almost feeling like a Ridge Racer game in that respect, but don’t expect to be doing 360 drifts though. The series isn’t known for its realism, but now you can take damage when crashing into things. Luckily it’s only cosmetic. But it does look pretty, as the game runs on an entirely new engine and looks absolutely stunning. It really shows through when playing Canyon at different times of day: Dawn, Morning, Afternoon, Dusk, and Night. All of which have their own lighting and make it look incredible. The textures are so well done people might think it’s real (except when you fly upside-down).

The game comes with no instructions or manual of how to set your times, whether they’re Medal Points, Official Times or Ladder Points. Medal Points are earned from racing in the single player and earning Gold, Silver, or Bronze. Official Times are times you set in SP to upload for the world to race against. Ladder Points are points you earn for your placement in multiplayer gameplay.

Your car can be moved with a keyboard or a controller. There is no native Xbox 360 Controller support, but it does get recognized and you can customize the buttons to your liking. I found the controller to be the most precise, and the keyboard to be a bit lacking. In years prior, it was the reverse. There’s only four commands: Steer, Accelerate, Brake, and Reset (or Restart entirely). With a quick press of the Enter key, you can reset to the last checkpoint or press Backspace to restart the race in it’s entirety.

I really can’t think of a better value than TrackMania² Canyon. The game is solid, runs great, plays great, encourages trial and error gameplay without getting frustrating. Now, the psuedo-subtitle to TrackMania2 is that it’s “Canyon”, as in only one environment. There will be future updates with different environments, whether it’s paid or unpaid is unknown at this time. You might find the one environment to be a huge detriment to gameplay or find it repetitive over time, but with the variety of track layouts seen in the singleplayer and multiplayer – you’ll likely never even see the same track twice.

A PC code for the game was provided by Nadeo for Review purposes