Platforms Playstation 4/Xbox One/PC
Developer Nadeo Publisher Ubisoft
Genre Racing Platform Played Xbox One
With a visual style that screams “arcade racer,” Trackmania Turbo will shock everyone as they discover the gameplay does not match this first impression whatsoever. Demanding precise, subtle movements, the game is unforgiving and forces countless race restarts if a player is looking to do anything more than merely complete the track.
Due to the large disconnect between appearance and actual gameplay style, the early minutes playing Trackmania Turbo are likely to be incredibly frustrating. Beyond these initial moments, it becomes more apparent what the game expects of you, although knowing how picky the game’s physics are will not necessarily help you as there are many times when you will find yourself scratching your head wondering why something just happened the way it did. Taking the exact same jump in the same way ten times will generally result in your car turning or twisting in ten different ways. Things such as last minute adjustments to your steering will inevitably change how your car behaves, but even without modifying my trajectory, I witnessed my car rolling to the side, rotating horizontally, and even starting to flip on occasion. The game has a feature called “air control” which requires you to press the brake button while soaring through the sky in order to stop your vehicle from spinning midair, but for a game that claims “you can’t cheat physics,” (yes, that is an actual quote found frequently in the game), physics are cheated around every corner. The best comparison to be made is Trackmania Turbo handling similarly to the Trials titles. They both require very specific, precise movements, both get to be relentlessly difficult if you want gold medals on all the courses, and yet both have very unique definitions of physics at times. Unfortunately, Trackmania Turbo does not fare nearly as well as the Trials games do simply because the physics found in frequent occurrences such as jumps or grazing a wall are so ludicrous.
Delving beyond the finicky physics of the game, there are several different game modes offered to players. The solo campaign is precisely what the name suggests, letting players race for the best time possible against ghosts representing the various times needed for gold, silver, or bronze medals, but without the distraction of other actual players. Double driver campaign is identical to its solo counterpart except the car is controlled simultaneously by two players, each using a different controller. This is one of the most unique modes ever seen in a racing title, but has little more purpose than causing some laughs. That is perfectly fine, except that the game gives you specific time targets to hit for various medals in this mode as well. Given how infuriating it is trying to obtain gold medals on many solo tracks, why on Earth would you wish to have two people attempt to overcome the fickle physics at the same time while trying to beat a certain time? The mode still holds a great deal of merit for amusement’s sake, though, so its inclusion cannot be written off, as at the very least, it provides some laughs or true challenge for anyone not demoralized enough from the single player venture.
To the game’s credit, there are several features built into the tracks which help offset the cruel difficulty. If the player fails to best the time required to earn a gold medal, they can earn a “joker” allowing them to earn the gold medal simply by meeting the silver standard enough times. This is also possible for the other two medals, although including a feature like this makes it feel as if the developers knew they were making an unnecessarily fickle game and wanted to include a workaround to ensure nobody would be unable to progress past the first 40 races in the campaign (at which point you need to have a certain number of bronze medals to unlock the next 10 races). Throughout the courses, there are also signs which help you assess how to proceed such as “Drift Here,” or “Chicane.” The game could simply expect you to memorize each course in your bid to earn the best time possible, but by providing the occasional hint, it becomes slightly less frustrating.
Online multiplayer is also included in Trackmania Turbo, allowing players to create their own playlists using any of the tracks within the game, or their own custom tracks, and opening up rooms for anyone to join. You are not always guaranteed to play directly against others, as I had several games with absolutely nobody else on the track despite Trackmania telling me there was someone else there. If you do play against others, the course becomes absolute mayhem simply due to the perfection in steering the game demands of you combined with the number of individuals looking to speed past each other. The final mode found in the game is the Trackbuilder, which grants players the ability to construct their own levels using any of the four environments found in the game and any number of obstacles, roads, turns, or general scenery. To ensure no incomplete levels are published, each created track must be test driven by the creator before it can be completed and shared. This safeguard is a small but appreciated inclusion as the number of impossible or incomplete levels which may have been published otherwise could outnumber complete tracks. As is increasingly popular, this also places a large amount of responsibility on the community to extend the game’s life cycle long beyond the 200 tracks found in the campaign. The tools and props available in the track creator have a phenomenal amount of variety and navigating the system is relatively intuitive and streamlined. For these reasons, the Trackbuilder mode is easily the strongest feature found in Trackmania Turbo. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be a streamlined way to try out other peoples’ creations other than going to the website in a browser, logging in to your Uplay account, and tagging it as a favourite for you to later find in an in-game menu.
Coming in as a close second for strongest feature of the title, local competitive multiplayer is present. With a plethora of different game modes to choose from, the game can even provide you with options if you only have one controller to share. Hot Seat is a fantastic example of a creative multiplayer mode, as it pits several players against one another to get the best time possible on a single track. Everyone makes their initial run, and the individual with the highest time is forced to run the track again until they beat someone else’s time. As you are racing to beat other times, your gas gauge is constantly decreasing and once you run out of gas, you are eliminated from the game. This is one of the modes which can be played with multiple controllers or just one, making it not only immensely enjoyable, but also versatile.
The Trackmania series has an incredibly devoted fanbase, and fans of the franchise will undoubtedly love the familiar formula found in Trackmania Turbo. However, those who have not played the series before should be warned that it feels like an awkward cross between Forza Motorsport and Trials, with the physics being notably picky and seemingly random a large portion of the times. The game seems to adhere to certain laws of physics but completely ignore them at other more convenient times, resulting in a confusing experience. This does not stop the title from demanding near perfection from you, although the definition of “perfection” in this instance is whatever Nadeo considers its definition to be. There is still enjoyment to be had, particularly in the variety of multiplayer game modes and creating custom tracks. Between these two modes, there are hours upon hours of amusement, although finding created tracks to play needs to be made more accessible to individuals playing on consoles by including some sort of search tool in a menu. Trackmania Turbo presents an awkward combination of simulation and arcade racing while challenging players to “perfect” their driving. The title will continuously push you to improve and chasing ghosts along tracks certainly helps motivate, but many will find their desire to keep playing wanes long before they finish the 200 campaign tracks.
- Incredible track creation mode
- Both local and multiplayer mode, with local supporting single-controller play
- Campaign tracks have creative designs
- Physics are incredibly punishing but not realistic as the title claims
- Any mistake generally results in failure and restarting a race
- No in-game method to search for and play tracks created by other players