The Trackmania franchise is one of two skill-based racing families that have been very successful over the past ten years or so. The other one is the Trials series – effectively giving Ubisoft sort of a monopoly on the genre. Games like Joe Danger were well-received, but didn’t receive nearly the same amount of sequels and DLC add-ons. Now, Ubisoft is releasing the next major iteration of Trackmania with Trackmania Turbo – we review the PS4 version.
It’s been over 10 years since the original PC release of Trackmania, and the formula for the game hasn’t changed much. This isn’t a racing game that focuses on fancy cars, let alone brands. It also isn’t a game where you develop your character in a career mode, or guide a driver through a story-driven campaign. You’re not upgrading your “ride” either – in Trackmania everyone drives the same cars and it’s all about the basics: driving and steering. That makes it sound easier than it is though, because the game is all about skill, perseverence and competition.
In each of the 200 available tracks, you need to reach the finish line in as little time as possible. Sounds easy enough, right? In your way, however, are turns, stunts and obstacles, and it’s up to you to weave your way through and past them as fast as possible. Steering into a corner with a sharp angle will cause you to lose speed or even go into a skid, and landing on an uphill surface after a jump also doesn’t bode well for your final time. Trackmania developer Nadeo has done really well to craft tracks that have you try for success time and time again until you nail it, with just the right amount of frustration on your way there.
To ease you into everything, the tracks in Trackmania Turbo are divided up into difficulty levels, with harder levels unlocking after you complete an easier set of runs. A set of runs always consists of 10 tracks, and they’re evenly divided between the game’s four game worlds – three of which are familiar to those who played the Canyon, Valley and Stadium editions of Trackmania.There’s a fair bit of grinding involved for experienced players, since the harder difficulty levels don’t unlock until you beat the easier levels first.
A fair share of diversity is added through the environmental aspect – and the matching race car that comes with it. When you play the Stadium levels, you’ll be controlling a high speed racing monster with a lot of traction. Play the Canyon levels and you’ll find yourself drifting through corners like a pro, with a car that’s suited for the job. You don’t get to choose your car either – you get what is suited to the job and it’s a level playing field from there on out. Online leaderboards show who’s boss, and you get to race against ghosts in order to beat medal/best times during your runs.
Trackmania Turbo features a graphics boost – and it’s the first release on the current generation of consoles. It’s no Assetto Corsa or Project Cars, but it doesn’t have to be and cranking out 200 levels with that amount of detail would have no doubt meant huge delays. That aside – this is still the best looking Trackmania game by far, and it manages this without losing the accessible look and feel of the level editor.
Once you get through the 200 levels that Nadeo supplies with the game, the game can be expanded with a virtually limitless amount of creations through said editor. You can craft your own or, if (like me) you’re too impatient for that, try out some of the levels that others have made and shared. It’ll take a while before the community starts identifying favorites, but if past experiences are anything to go by then this is going to be another Nadeo game that will stay popular for years to come.
Sure, the formula is tried and true, but it still works great and the new layer of polish makes the game look eye-catching as well. There’s some recycled content for long-time PC fans of the series and the grinding can be a chore for those who are veterans of the series, but if you never played Trackmania before then this is a great time to start. The amount of content is overwhelming, the gameplay as refined as can be, and all the building blocks are there to make sure the experience gets added on to as well. If Nadeo doesn’t do it, the community definitely will.