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Written by  :  re_fold (310)
Written on  :  Jun 01, 2004
Rating  :  4.2 Stars4.2 Stars4.2 Stars4.2 Stars4.2 Stars

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Instant-classic, one to last many years.

The Good

This game is very similar to 'Stunts' the 1990 game of mad racing over crazy tracks you can create and share with others. However, TrackMania adds so much to this idea, enough to last another 13 years!

The time in the Stunts game was slowed down to allow for precision using the keyboard, but Trackmania goes full speed, and you need an analogue controller to keep your car under control. Its tracks test your limits in both reaction time, smoothness and precision!

Trackmania's play consists of three environments, each of them has a unique car and physics, as well as track parts (blocks) unique to it (for example the looping is only available in the Desert environment).

The physics are excellent; not realistic, but very fun and deep. The finer details of controlling your car are learned over many hours of playing time. You can grow into a better driver.

Even though TrackMania would appeal to me if it had filled polygons, the graphics do add to the experience, especially in the Rally environment.

The solo experience is very large and challenging; Puzzles, Racing, and Survival modes (the latter one added in the Power Up! patch) give you plenty of ways to spend some hours.
  • Puzzle Tracks start in the Track editor; you see an almost finished track and you have a few blocks you need to place. Then, race it for the fastest time. These challenges change the way you think about racing in TrackMania. They prepare you for making fast times, looking for holes and shortcuts, and teach you to have a critical eye toward any track.

  • Race tracks are simple enough; these tracks can be won even without knowing the tracks. These challenges deal with the racing techniques, on-the-spot decision making, finding the right entry point, speed et cetera. They also teach you about the car physics in TrackMania (which are amazingly deep).

  • Survival mode has you racing against three ghost cars, over twenty tracks, to see how far you can get. By winning a race you rise in rank and only if you finish last is the survival game over. It's essentially a test of your skills, to beat your high score.

The multiplayer experience is excellent! On a single computer, TrackMania sadly does not support split-screen racing, but it does offer multiple people a chance to race each other, in turns only. For networks, TrackMania has Round mode , Team mode and Time Attack mode. The other players are depicted in their cars but you can not bump into each other; you drive through them. This is good as there is less need for fast connections and you can focus on racing instead of fighting. However, for LANs, i would like to see an option to turn on car-to-car interaction. But then again, i might as well ask for rocket launchers..

The track editor is very easy to get into, although it could be improved (see the BAD section). The many blocks are grouped by type, and are easily laid out.

Everyone can create innovative, fun, stunt and race tracks, huge or tiny, and created tracks are mostly 5 to 10 Kb.

The Bad

The track builder has been made easy to use for the initiate, but to be more effective it should have an advanced mode in which one can use shortcuts such as CTRL-C etc. At the moment it strains my wrist when building for more than half an hour.

What will happen when TrackMania's central multiplayer server is shut down and multiplayer isn't possible anymore?

No split-screen support, a shame.

The Bottom Line

TrackMania is a truly outstanding game, one to last many years because of its varied and deep gameplay.