Trackmania Turbo Review

I’m not much for racing games, especially not of the more realistic simulation style titles. It’s kind of telling that the racing games I enjoy most generally allow me to fire missiles at someone, drop banana peels, or takedown opposing racers. The point is, I expect and desire a certain amount of havoc in racing games, and Trackmania Turbo has that. There’s no destroying other racers with furious car on car combat or an improbable arsenal of weapons, but what there is is some great arcade action. Easy to pick up, but hard to master, Trackmania Turbo is a deceptively simple racer that has a surprising amount of depth, challenge, and replayability. A visually stylish, fast paced, time trial based arcade racer, it pits you against the clock as you race through crazy tracks in an attempt to clock the fastest times. Just you, your car, a clock, and some wacky racing. Fun, frantic, surprisingly addictive, and with some great, if somewhat wacky visual styling, Trackmania Turbo makes for a great arcade racer.

The gameplay itself is very simple. You’ve got a car with your typical arcade racer levels of cartoonish speed and handling. You’ve got crazy tracks that with all the obstacles, loop the loops, jumps, and speed up pads,  look like the sort of deranged set up you’d see in a Hot Wheels toy set.

You’ve got the clock that’s relentlessly ticking away, and you’ve got ghosts that you can race against. The more races you beat, the more races you unlock. Simple, clean, and elegant. But while it’s easy to pick up and learn, it becomes downright devilish to master. Oh it starts out simple enough, but to truly succeed in the game requires a surprising amount of skill, practice, and patience. There are 200 tracks in the game, split amongst four separate terrains, each with a specific car to race in. Each car has its own quirks, each terrain provides interesting challenges, and each track has its own optimal way to be mastered. But this all runs on a progression system, and to unlock everything you’re damn well going to have to master everything that came before it first.

And it’s in that way that Trackmania is great for both casual and serious players. The tracks are short and the action fast paced, but to truly master those races?  Mastery will take practice, lots and lots of practice. It’ll take constant replays of tracks as you try to figure out every single nuance.  Where should I start the drift from? What speed should I hit that ramp to make it past that obstacle? What angle or speed should I be approaching that at? How am I supposed to get that goddamn gold medal? Trackmania can be damn addictive, and you’ll compulsively replay tracks over and over again in an attempt to beat them and unlock their secrets for good. It’ll be frustrating, and cause many a rage quit, but it’s good for a challenge. And once those 200 races are complete, there’s plenty of other races to try your hand it. A quick generator allows you to create randomly generated tracks to test yourself against, even if they’re not always sensible, balanced, or fair, and a track editor allows you to painstakingly create or download your own set of fast paced deathtraps. No doubt some inventively sadistic types are creating the most miserably brutal tracks imaginable to truly put players to the test.

Multiplayer and online are both very well supported. You’ve got split screen multiplayer which, in this era of online multiplayer, is sadly becoming a rare thing. Because everyone knows that groups of gamers no longer play together on couches on the same machine right? You’ve got the interesting double driver mode, which lets two people control one car at the same time for no doubt hilarious results. And you’ve got online races which allow for a hundred odd racers to compete on the same race at the same time, filling your screen with the ghosts of dozens of opponents. For those compulsive leaderboard climbers, you’ll be glad to see how streamlined and in depth the Trackmania Leaderboards are. Not only are you ranked in terms of the world, but also country, and state. So while you might never be the best in the world, maybe you can still aim for the best in Australia? Or failing that, the best in NSW? Top ten definitely. Maybe top 100.

Trackmania Turbo is a fun fast paced arcade racer that’s both simple, and very deep. Short races, fast paced action, and simple controls make it easy for learners to pick up, but the challenging tracks, and tons of replayability give it plenty of staying power. Recommended for both casual and serious fans of racing games.

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