The ghosts of racers past
The latest entry in Nadeo?s arcade-racer series, TrackMania Turbo is a punishing, beautiful, and polarizing game. Those who love the challenge of time-trials will fall in love with many aspects, like its one-button restart feature. Players who crave more ?traditional? competition will find it lacking as you only compete against insubstantial ghosts of your friends or the game?s AI. No matter which camp you find yourself in, however, it cannot be denied that TrackMania Turbo accomplishes what it set out to do: allow players to go very, very fast on the most insane tracks this side of Rollercoaster Tycoon.
As you may have gleaned from the name, the tracks themselves are the stars of TrackMania Turbo. From Canyon Grand Drift?s massive jumps to the stomach-turning twists of Rollercoaster Lagoon, Turbo has created enough distinct courses to satisfy any racing fan. The campaign mode alone has 200 tracks for players to work their way through, divided up by four circuits (Canyon Grand Drift, Down & Dirty Valley, Rollercoaster Lagoon, and International Stadium). Each circuit offers five series of difficulties, with each of those requiring drivers to obtain a certain number of bronze, silver, and gold medals to unlock.
If you have issues unlocking the higher tier courses?or just miss the Excitebike days?you can jump into the Track Builder, which is an amazing feature within TrackMania. Here players can build an infinite number of courses for the TrackMania community to race on, or just for their own personal enjoyment. Utilizing several tiers, Track Builder picks a toolbox suitable for your proficiency. Never built a track before? The most basic box will limit pieces to make sure you?re not building an impossible course. Black Circuit certified? Then use the highest tier to create a track that looks like something out of M.C. Escher?s mind.
On top of the twists and turns, the tracks also have several clever mechanics to keep things interesting. Some courses have magnetic tracks, keeping your car held firmly to the road. Others tout panels that shut off your car?s engine as you drive over them, relying on any momentum you had to carry you to the next checkpoint. This ups the intensity of many tracks, leaving you holding your breath and leaning forward, willing your car to roll just the few extra feet to the checkpoint as you see time ticking away.
Several multiplayer modes also exist in TrackMania Turbo. Not only are there online leaderboards, but also modes like classic split-screen and the innovative Double Driver. In Double Driver, two players control the same car, at the same time. With their inputs averaged, communication is key for success. This mode is couch co-op perfection, and allows a welcome distraction from the single player campaign. All campaign courses are available in multiplayer, except for the perfection-demanding Black Series. If those 160 courses just aren?t enough, you can also play on a randomly generated course that is created right in front of your eyes.
Another plus is that whether you?re drifting through a corkscrew or blasting at 600 mph down a straightaway, the game is beautiful to look at. TrackMania?s graphics are gorgeous, and every aspect feels like it belongs to the same, hyper-colorized world. Shining advertisements pepper the sidelines of the tracks promoting sponsors of the TrackMania races (Preserve Nature?s red panda was one of my favorites). Your car looks stunning, too, with sunlight reflecting off its chrome finish.
Unfortunately, a major disappointment for me was the lack of effort put in when it came to the vehicular customization. Within TrackMania?s Garage, players can alter the paint on their cars, picking a country?s flag, paintwork, mascot (an icon), a number, and the material for the body. By spending Ubisoft Points, you can get Legendary Paintworks?slightly more artistic skins?for your car. Sadly, if you choose one of these, you cannot apply any of the customizations listed above. After plopping down 30 points for the ?Flash? Paintwork, I wasn?t about to go back to a custom job just so I could have a flag on my car. Frustratingly, since these are some of the only awards available in the game, I found myself highly unmotivated to achieve faster times to unlock further customizations.
Another downfall was the game?s soundtrack. Sounding like the demo tape from a college freshman who just downloaded his first pirated copy of Fruity Loops, the music hammers away at you with repetition and an overall lack of musical progression. I understand that to have songs crafted for a game whose races average 30 seconds in length may seem silly, but players deserve more.
The final frustration I had came from the camera angles forced on players. While you can pick between first- and third-person cameras during open track segments, once you hit a more extreme section of road, you?re pushed into third-person, no matter what your preference. If you were driving in first-person to start, this can be a very jarring experience, and cost you the perfect drift. Get ready for the majority of your ?guess I better start over? moments to be immediately after one of these transitions.
TrackMania Turbo delivers a racing game with beautiful design, graphics, and controls. For those who love time trials and a challenge, you?ll have a hard time putting TrackMania Turbo down as it offers the drive/wreck/repeat pacing that you crave. However, by limiting the competition solely to ghosts?no matter who you?re playing against, wherever in the world?it gets harder and harder to be excited for each subsequent race knowing there?s little difference between racing a human or the AI.
|Developer: Nadeo ? Publisher: Ubisoft ? ESRB: E – Everyone ? Release Date: 03.22.16|
For me, TrackMania Turbo just didn?t earn the checkered flag. If you love time-trials, however, this is the racing game you?ve been waiting for.
|The Good||TrackMania?s style is absolutely amazing. I stopped on several tracks to take it all in.|
|The Bad||Every race has the same goal?beat a static time.|
|The Ugly||How fast time goes by as you try to get gold on a track.|
|TrackMania Turbo is available on Xbox One, PS4, and PC. Primary version reviewed was for PS4. Review code was provided by Ubisoft for the benefit of this review. EGM reviews games on a scale of 1 to 10, with a 5.0 being average.|