Title: Trackmania Turbo
Version Tested On: Xbox One
Available On: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Where To Buy: Steam, PSN, Xbox Store, Local Retailer
Trackmania Turbo reminds me of that one friend who wants to compete against you for anything. If, like myself, you often always bite to the challenge, Trackmania Turbo may satisfy your craving for competition. Trackmania Turbo is a solid arcade racer that specializes in high speed trials and pushing you to the limit. The competitive streak needed to enjoy this game may alienate casual gamers but if you want to see your name paraded as the best in the world, you can achieve that here.
Having never played a Trackmania game prior to this, I watched some videos on YouTube of the previous titles. As I saw clips of racers gracefully sliding through tracks at insanely high speeds, the game looked relatively easy. However, once I picked up the controller and attempted this in Trackmania Turbo, I quickly discovered I lacked such finesse. Much of the difference in difficulty between watching golf or playing golf, Trackmania Turbo consists of the same contrast.
The campaign consists of an impressive 200 levels but the majority of these tracks will last no longer than 30 seconds. Do not expect to breeze through the campaign though as you will be aiming for gold medals on all of these stages. You will visit four different locales ranging from the dusty deserts of the Canyon Grand Drift to the Neo Tokyo themed International Stadium. With five levels of difficulty to master where even the easiest of tracks can be devilishly tricky; there is a reasonable amount of content here.
The first forty levels will hastily introduce you to the Trackmania concept. Intricate tracks where precision is the difference between a record time and a DNF. The meticulousness needed here will be the difference between you becoming a surgeon or a butcher. One wrong move and the challenge will be over. The learning curve here is steep and there is no tutorial in sight which means you have to learn fast. The varied locations will introduce a number of terrains and surfaces that will effect the driving physics. Being on a paved track will grant you impeccable traction whereas the dirt tracks of the jungle themed courses in Down and Dirty Valley will cause your car to drift haphazardly around corners. Once you reach the Rollercoaser Lagoon stages, do not be surprised to find yourself airborne or upside down as the tracks become more experimental.
Being prepared for these varied conditions keep you alert. Switching between two surfaces mid-race will require the utmost composure to achieve that record time. When entering the gravity-defying moments of the track, the camera will switch to a first-person viewpoint which can be jarring. This feels included to partly give you more driving awareness but also to challenge you.
As you progress through the stages, which are unlocked by achieving medals, the difficulty will rise. On the later courses look forward to scaling half pipes, sudden U-Turns or transferring between tracks whilst midair; the races evolve into puzzles. Irrelevant of your surroundings, there is always one objective at hand. When beginning a stage, which you are literally dropped into via a crane in the sky, you choose a medal to strive for which in turn spawns a ghost car as a marker. I actually found this rather distracting as seeing a fully embodied car had me avoiding collisions even though that was impossible. This affected my performance on the stages which lowered my track times. The bronze and silver medals are relatively easy to attain, taking a couple of bumps will be still allow you to finish the race with seconds to spare. Being rewarded with a gold medal requires a near faultless run. Trackmania Turbo is a game for perfectionists as achieving a gold medal is a test of character. The accolade is only briefly enjoyed though as the records never end. You can achieve the Trackmaster award which is a hidden time that the actual creator of the stage set. These records are insanely hard to break and could see you reattempting the same track for hours.
When you begin Trackmania Turbo, you declare your country of residence and in some territories you can be even more specific than that. Upon completion of a stage, you will be told where you time ranks against everyone in the world, the country and in my case, state. I have never been one for leader boards but when they are flaunted in my face as readily as they are here, it can be impossible to ignore them. Knowing that I am just a few positions away from being the best player in my state is a proposition I found hard to refuse. Trackmania Turbo brought out a level of competitiveness in me I did not know existed and it might do the same to you.
So how do you achieve these record-breaking times? Practise makes perfect. Expect to retry tracks multiple times and the developers have gifted you a simple button press to immediately return to the start of the stage. This button will become second nature as grazing a barrier or rail will cost you precious seconds and restarting is inevitable.
As you replay each of the shorts tracks, you will swiftly become accustomed to the lay out. Much like professional F1 drivers, I began to visualize and memorize the course structure. To attain the Trackmaster ranking, every millisecond saved can matter. You begin to see corners that could be cut and jumps that could be dismounted differently. You become an analytical genius and I would spend far too much time meticulously retrying tracks to nail a specific corner or apex. Risking these moves can pay off but they can also ruin a perfectly good run. Trackmania Turbo is unforgiving and if you as much as scuff a rock, the exaggerated physics take control and your car will be sent spiraling through the air.
With a game as apprehensive as Trackmania Turbo, expect to quickly shift between emotions. Hitting a jump perfectly and soaring gleefully through the air would induce a joyous sensation whereas dismounting the ramp poorly would find me shouting words the neighbors would not appreciate.
Occasionally the game will frustrate you due to reasons beyond your control. The biggest culprit for a failed record time would be the occasional lag on a new lap. A few courses are lap based affairs and unlike the other stages, these ask you to be consistent with your performance. This small delay mid-race in game play would completely throw me off course and it happened quite frequently. The course design can feel unfair too at times. You have no map on you HUD so predicting the layout of the track requires you to use your intuition. For the most part this works but occasionally fate is taken out of your hands when hitting a jump and you find out in whilst airborne that you needed to be on a specific side. You will crash into a blockade which you would have had no prior warning about. There are a few poorly implemented features which do not pay off either. At times, your engine will be cut off which offers little more than varying the game play. Usually this happening would simply cause me to crash because I was not expecting it as opposed to requiring me to adapt to it.
Trackmania Turbo is groomed as a classic arcade game. The loud upbeat dance tracks and the bright abstract surroundings would make this stand out in any shopping mall. Starting the game asks you to insert a coin or press a button. Cheesy parody billboards advertising ‘Try Hard 2 (Try Harder)’ and giant pandas hugging magnets will be just a few of the outlandish decorations for the tracks. The turbo symbol which appears when you reach top speed is reminiscent of the Street Fighter logo. During loading screens you are treated to quotes from iconic visionaries such as Henry Ford and Homer J Simpson which should give you an idea of Trackmania Turbo’s sense of humour. The colorful and vibrant aesthetics please the eye yet do not draw your attention away from the task at hand. The announcers are extremely tedious though. As you begin every stage, they will count down in a number of different languages and hearing them say ‘what are you doing?’ when you crash would infuriate me beyond anything else. Thankfully you can turn them off and I would strongly recommend it.
Outside of the main campaign there are other modes which retain the same objective of time based challenges but allow you to play more directly with others. Locally you can play split screen which is actually more fun that I had anticipated. The driving mechanics within Trackmania Turbo are really enjoyable but rarely do you get the time to have fun with them. Playing against friends drops the lure of achieving world record times and allows you to play the game as a more traditional racer. Double Driver involves two players controlling the same car. Both users control the acceleration and steering with the result being the average between the two inputs. If one went left and the other right, the car would harmlessly drive straight. You can play this mode across the full 200 tracks included and it adds a new dynamic to the straight forward formula.
Worldwide Challenges are online competitions you can participate in or create. By choosing an array of stages, you can set stipulations such as the number of attempts or time limits. When entering the competition, you abide by these rules and as standard, embark on setting the fastest time possible. When the entry time closes, the winner is revealed and more often than not, it was not me.
Trackmania Turbo already has an unprecedented amount of courses but if you feel like you need more, the track builder can appease you. Depending on your level of creativity, the builder can work to your capabilities. The beginner mode will be very simplistic. You set the parameters for the location and time of day, and then you have a handful of track parts to put together. For the more imaginative creators you can use the advanced tools and you can begin to create some breathtaking stages reminiscent of one’s found in the main game. Jumps, vertical loops and even terraforming is possible if you have the imagination for it. You have to complete the track yourself before uploading it but this will surely expand the life of the game. Trackmania Turbo can automatically build tracks which you can watch as the AI constructs. It can be quite comical watching the computer try to correct its mistakes but the whole process takes far too long. My partner and I had to wait about 3-4 minutes before we could begin our showdown.
Trackmania Turbo has a very specific audience. The developers have tried to accommodate to a wider audience by deviating from the central dynamic of the game but these are merely distractions. There is plenty of content here and a new game + mode for the completionists who want even faster records to beat. Trackmania Turbo is aimed at the perfectionist and much like games as Dark Souls, where the enjoyment comes from conquering a particularly hard segment, that is where Trackmania Turbo can be enjoyed. For this type of game to succeed with that philosophy, the euphoria needs to outweigh the frustration and for me, sadly, it did not. However, if it does for you, Trackmania Turbo is worth your time.
- Gameplay: Fast Paced Racer With Impeccable Precision Required
- Graphics: Bright, Colorful, and Vibrant
- Sound: Upbeat Dance Tracks, Irritating Commentators
- Presentation: Easy To Pick Up, Hard To Master
- Fast Action
- Highly Competitive
- Huge Number of Tracks
- Endless Records
- Occasional LAG on Laps
- Irritating Commentators
- Specific Audience