Trackmania has been primarily a PC series for the past 13 years. The game series has created quite the following over the past few years, with server customization to serve up nearly endless replayability. Developer Nadeo and publisher Ubisoft are now delivering the fast, insane gravity and physics-defying racer not only to PC, but to Xbox One and PlayStation 4 for the first time, the aptly named Trackmania Turbo. And it’s a series that couldn’t benefit more from a wider release, and consoles now have the capability for this game’s scale. Trackmania Turbo is a game that I can’t stop playing.
Trackmania Turbo goes for an arcade look that reminds me of Daytona USA in its presentation, with each race prompting you to “Insert Coin”. It’s bright, colorful, and inviting. This easily gives the game the most style the series has ever had, it’s visually the best looking game yet as well. The racing in Trackmania is all about time attack, where you are competing against a clock for the fastest time. You can race in real-time against ghost drivers, both AI and real (while playing online). It’s here where you strive to get a medal based on a particular time. And that’s kind of it, Trackmania‘s simple approach to non-contact racing against a clock makes it perfect to pick-up and play without any specific history with the series or racing in general.
Trackmania Turbo is bit like a remix of TrackMania 2, but has a lot more new going on. When Trackmania 2 originally released, it was in three separate games that were associated with different environments: Canyon, Valley, and Stadium. These places find their way into Trackmania Turbo, but also a new locale has been added: Lagoon. Each of these places are visually diverse and have a different car that races on them, that not only sound but handle differently. I found that the hard surfaces were the best tracks to race on that always ensured you were in control whereas dirt surfaces introduced too much chance in directionality of where you were going.
Playing Trackmania Turbo online or offline is simple: play a track once to get a feel for the layout. Once you’ve completed it, improve on that time until you’re satisfied. If you’re in the campaign, try to get gold. If you get stuck, move on to the next. You don’t have to improve, but there’s a satisfaction about beating the gold medal ghost on each of the tracks. The Time Attack formula is so rewarding and even frustrating as you end up only shaving fractions of a second off your time with each run. Thankfully tracks are designed with speed and shortness in mind, that it’ll take only thirty seconds to a few minutes to complete.
Now that the servers are online for Trackmania Turbo, there’s servers to join. These servers have series of maps from each of the environments presented in a playlist format. There will be a timer counting down, allowing you to retry for the best time on the track as many times as you want. Then, you can be in a server with over 100 other players. Because it is time attack, it doesn’t matter where you are on the track, and your placement will fluctuate as you race, becoming highly competetive. The online is easily the most exciting and rewarding, and soon enough, custom tracks will start to make their way into these servers, and you’ll be in for some creative endeavors for exciting tracks.
While Trackmania Turbo‘s 200 single-player courses are fine, the game has never been really about the single-player content. It’s great for those wanting to practice and set times and get all gold medals for your fast driving, but where the game has always shined is online. In prior games, it was all about racing with hundreds (yes, hundreds) of other players with a timer gradually ticking down, racing through insane track after track. Trackmania Turbo handles things similarly, allowing you to leave your console or PC running as a server for others to pop on and off and race your playlist, without the need for doing anything more complicated than that.
Trackmania Turbo is anything but lacking in modes. There’s local multiplayer as well. You can race through split-screen, take turns with hot seat mode, or the crazy new mode: Double Driver, where two players on two controllers take 50% control of the same car. On-screen arrows will show which direction each player is pointing the car. For instance, if the two drivers steer in opposite directions, the car will drive straight. It’s a neat mode, and allows for some hilarious situations of communication, or lack thereof. While you wouldn’t think of it, Trackmania Turbo can be a great party game. And even that’s not all, I stumbled across some hidden modes when a not so incognito menu option labeled “Secret” sparked my interest. After inputting a few combos, I unlocked a few modes to try out, such as: Hotseat Stunt, Arcade Smash, and Monoscreen Fun. The number of combinations still left undiscovered make for some really interesting surprises.
A necessity for all Trackmania games is the track creator, and is fully-featured in Trackmania Turbo. It’s actually the series’ bread and butter. Without it, it would have stifled so much creativity. Being able to make your own outlandish and imaginative creations is what drives the game towards longevity and replayability. You can join a server and see tracks that are just full speed tracks with no user input on turning, or devious that test your skills, it’s fresh and exciting. From easy to complex, there are multiple track editors for all types of creators. Beginner, Normal, and Advanced give increasing granularity on what appears on your environments. Or, you can be completely hands-off and go with the random track generator to get something wholly unique, and redesign it as needed. An odd omission, is the ability to let the player drop-in or fly out of the environment. This is something seen in the campaign tracks, but was not something I was able to replicate in any form of the track builder.
While they aren’t the same level of customization you had with past Trackmania games, Trackmania Turbo does the best it can with what it’s got. The game has a soundtrack where you can disable songs you don’t like, and even has a boost function that enhances the music over the gameplay audio, or with the same button press, can be turned off entirely. The ability to customize your car is great, and while each car is different both cosmetically and how it handles for every environment, you can apply a one-size fits all paint scheme with items you’ve unlocked during your play. While you won’t be able to play your MP3 of dubstep version of the “Jurassic Park” theme, or uploading a Tron skin for your in-game vehicle, this is a nice alternative over nothing.
Trackmania Turbo is a great way to get introduced to the series and experience the game on any platform of your choosing. Nadeo didn’t just port TrackMania 2 over, they broke it down and rebuilt it from the ground up to deliver a new type of game, one that has a faster pace, better accessibility, and is the ultimate arcade racer. With an expansive campaign mode for solo or co-op play, a robust track creator, and an exciting online community, Trackmania Turbo is so much fun to play.
A pre-release PlayStation 4 and Uplay code were provided by the publisher for review purposes