Platform: PC Download
“TrackMania2 Stadium. What’s that?” you may be asking? If I could quickly describe the gameplay to you, it’s a simple racer, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I don’t play many racing games, but TrackMania is by far the most straightforward one I’ve ever played – though it is slick.
Stadium isn’t your Need For Speed or Burnout. Instead, it focuses on solo player time challenges, creating your own tracks and multiplayer matches where you race on maps created by users.
Solo Player tasks you with completing 65 tracks within a given time frame to earn medals. You can technically take your sweet time, but it’s not the route I would take (pun intended). In order to unlock more tracks, you have to earn specified medals, which become more demanding as you work your way up to tracks requiring more adept skills.
Aside from more tracks to play on, what keeps Solo Player engaging is seeing my rank rise in the variety of different leaderboards after each time I complete a track. Before you’re able to play Stadium, you have to create an account, part of which asks you where you reside. Since I live in North America, the United States and Texas, after I complete any track, the game shows how far – or not – I have scaled the leaderboards in each of those areas, including worldwide of course. Much like the similar feature in Pacman Championship Edition DX, it’s a simple, but incredibly addicting niche that kept me coming back to reach the next top percentile. It’s also neat to see how many people have played the game within my state and how I rank compared to my fellow cowboys.
Aside from its addictive ranking appeal, Solo Player challenges barely take any time to complete, though entertaining they might be. They’re even shorter if you don’t earn the medals to unlock more stages, which cut down the game’s replay value.
Outside the realms of Solo Player, Stadium features an extensive track editor, which can be used locally or online. For a download title, there are a surprising amount of features to build the course of your dreams, but hardly anything is explained about how certain pieces function. Experimentation is a vital part of any creation tools, but when there’s almost no explanation on how it works aside from the most basic controls, it hinders the experience of building a track. There is a simple mode that attempts to ease the transition to creating complex courses in advanced mode, but it’s like going from elementary school courses to college classes.
The game also fails to mention what Skill Points and Ladder Points are and how you acquire them. Skill points relate to Solo Player while Ladder Points have something to do with multiplayer. Skill Points can be overlooked, but Ladder Points are mandatory to play on some multiplayer servers.
Alongside a track editor is customizing your racer. You can’t change any physical parts of the racer, but you can design it to fit your dazzling personality using colors and stickers with a fair amount of choices.
However, if you don’t have access to the internet, the only thing you can use to cater your car is paint. It doesn’t make much sense to leave out such small items. If I can have access to the track editing materials, why not most of the editing materials for my racer?
What makes even less sense is taking out Solo Player missions without internet access. All you’re left with if you don’t have internet are the editing tools. An important element to Solo Player is ascending the leaderboards, yes, but it shouldn’t restrict you from accessing the mode all together if your internet isn’t working.
Multiplayer has several different modes, but most people prefer Time Attack and Laps. Laps is your standard racing mode where you have to complete a specified number of laps before your opponents. Time Attack, on the other hand, is another addictive experience in Stadium. With up to an astounding 255 max players, tracks are set up similar to most Solo Player tracks where you’re trying to reach the finish line with haste in a set-time limit. For example, if I set up a match and place a five-minute time limit, that’s how much time I have to race the track in the shortest time possible to achieve the highest rank. It’s a shockingly addictive mode where I can see myself returning to Stadium for an occasional round or two.
In terms of graphics, Stadium doesn’t break the fourth wall; they don’t blow my mind, but they’re not awful either. The lighting effects are where the game “shines” though. The reflection from your vehicle in particularly is performed in a realistic manner unlike other games where lighting is a bit over-the-top.
Stadium also bevvies an effortless video replay feature. With the hit of a key, you can easily save your gameplay footage within a track where it is then uploaded to Steam’s Workshop. I don’t own a video capturing device (at least yet), but it’s comforting to know the feature is there if I ever want to use it.
As someone who does not fancy playing racing titles often, I enjoyed the time I had with Stadium for the most part. It’s alluring to see my ranks climb up where I live area by area while behind the seat of my smoothly-controlled racer. The multiplayer is also incredibly fun with its Time Attack mode. It’s also having the ability to record gameplay footage so easily. However, when much of the content is absent without an internet connection – including the single-player portion for unclear reasons – while lacking any sort of tutorial or guidance on how to create tracks among other things, it’s difficult for me to recommend Stadium over the likes of Burnout or even Mario Kart despite it being on the cheap side of download titles. If you have $10, are seeking a fun racing game and want to create tracks – assuming you can figure it out – TrackMania2 Stadium could whet your appetite.
- Fun for a cheap racing title
- Addictive Solo Player leaderboard ascension
- Time Attack multiplayer mode
- Lighting effects
- Abundance of absent content without internet connection
- Lack of tutorials with track customization
- Fails to explain certain elements
- Short single-player
Robbie Key is a reviews & news editor for Analog Addiction, entertainment editor for the Pine Log newspaper at Stephen F. Austin State University, news editor for Worlds Factory and blogger for IGN. Follow his completely relevant Twitter updates, watch his awesomtacular YouTube videos, and view his LinkedIn profile.