For all your racing simulators and off road open world vehicular explorers, nothing beats a good old fashioned arcade racer; one which contains enough content and lure to have you going back time and time again in a quest for that perfect line or apex.
TrackMania Turbo could well be that game. Although if you’re looking for something that will see you going head-to-head with some of the meanest drivers from around the world, then you’re going to be sorely disappointed. But don’t let that put you off for one minute.
Instead TrackMania Turbo focuses massively on time trialing; to such a point that you’ll quickly forget that you are given little chance to really show how robust your racing is. It’s fast, it’s frantic and in its rawest form, is absolutely nuts. Taking control of one of four vehicles, TMT throws you round more than 200 tracks in what can only be described as ‘Hot Wheels on steroids’. From your initial drop into the action – quite literally – you’ll find yourself and your skills being pushed to the limit as you hit banked curves, full on loops, jumps and tracks that have quite obviously been designed by some kind of rollercoasting sadist. You’ll never know what is coming up next and so your reactions will need to be on point throughout. Blinking isn’t an option. No matter how much it hurts.
Your cars are twitchy rocket powered beasts that only ever let up if you hit a well placed engine cut off section of the track. But until you do, it’ll be full throttle at all times, with a dab of the brakes only being needed should you need to slightly correct things, both when on the track and in the air. With a ton of luminescent signs helping you along the way, giving a slight heads up to what is to come, what you need to avoid, and the best route for progress, TrackMania Turbo basically boils down to you and the clock in a test of nerves. Do you have what it takes to grab that bronze medal? Can you attempt the same track further times in order to bag the silver? Are you some kind of crazed speed freak who loves repetition and bettering themselves? It is only then when you’ll find the gold medals making their way to your bank and TrackMania Turbo excelling.
Split across four unique environments, with a specific car in place for each stage, the tracks are beautifully colourful beasts that will keep pulling you back for more, if not in an attempt to best your own slack times, but for full bragging rights with friends around the world. The International Stadium kicks things off with the first few tracks on the easiest stages and this is a great place to hone your skills. It is something of a necessity too as by the time you start drifting your way around the Canyon Grand Drift circuits, or flying up and down the hills in the Down & Dirty Valley, you’ll need to be fully versed in exactly how to master the simple controls and your not so simple car.
Just as you think you’ve bagged yourself enough medals and unlocked enough tracks, you’ll find that TMT will be forcing you back into the career some more in order to better your times and to garner bigger, shinier medals and the opportunity to unlock everything on offer. It won’t take you long to complete all of the simplistic White stages, but should you wish to progress through the Green and Blue stages, into Red and eventually onto the hardest of the hard Black circuits, complete with tracks that are seemingly in place to confuse the hell out of you, then you’ll have to go back time and time again. Even then you may still find that many of the 200 tracks are completely out of your reach. At least that is in the campaign, for thankfully you’ll find everything unlocked and ready to roll in the arcade modes.
It is about this time however when you’ll begin to find TrackMania Turbo more than frustrating. Think of some of the manic tracks that are found in the latter stages of Trials Fusion and you’ll quickly realise why much of the campaign will be inaccessible to many. If you don’t come with the requisite skills, and harbour little hope of them ever appearing, then you may wonder what all the fuss is about with TMT. Thankfully though, no matter what your skill level, that doesn’t mean your time with this arcade speedrunner is over. For away from the campaign are numerous other options to keep you busy. And busy is exactly what they will have you doing.
Initially you may find that the draw of the worldwide, national and regional leaderboards that have been cunningly placed into the heart of the action are too much to ignore, but eventually you’ll want to find the limit of your skills, the realisation that you’ll struggle to beat ‘that’ friend and the need to go hit the online scene.
Now, whilst there are a few server issues in play, TMT may frustrate yet again, but should you manage to join one of the huge number of online matchups that are in place, then you’ll be treated to some spectacular timed racing. Just as fast and smooth as everything that you can find in the solo modes, online racing in TrackMania has been well actioned. With time attack, championship and set lap options, you’ll find yourself on tracks against a huge number of online competitors. Shown as ghosts, it’s a simple task really…race your way to the end in a faster time than anyone else. Or at least you can die trying, because as is the way with much of the online affairs we see on Xbox Live, some of those racers are just stupidly quick. With a ton of options available to the host, including that of giving out points to the stunt masters out there, the online side of TMT is very nearly as comprehensive as that found by the single player. Throw in an ever increasing number of player challenges for you to compete in and chances are you’ll never find the time to be bored.
There is also a full track building system in place giving the opportunity to build, share and race your own unique tracks, complete with all the loops, jumps and obstacles you so wish. It’s a relatively easy affair to create your own track and with a random option giving the game the opportunity to show off at will, you’ll find that your choices of tracks are near on endless.
But that’s not all for the inclusion of a frankly brilliant ‘Two drivers – One car’ mode sees you and a local friend attempt to race around the same tracks as that found in the single player campaign, but together, controlling the same beast simultaneously. What. A. Joy. Well, at least it is a joy if your partner in crime holds any form of gameplay or driving skills. Hand one controller to Grandma in the corner and even taking into account your own stunning skills, the car will be found veering off track forever more. Cooperation isn’t necessarily the key element, but being able to control a super powered beast is.
Grab the controller off grannie though and the option to check out your skills against your friends in the quick fire ‘Record Centre’ is more than helpful, allowing for easy recognition and the opportunity to fight it out against your online friends’ times. As with the online mode, you can even attempt to take to some of the tracks with the express intention of pulling off the most barrel rolls or other such stunts. Admittedly though, this option is pretty well hidden and pales into insignificance when being placed up against the real star of the show…the time trials.
TrackMania Turbo is basically the Trials franchise but on four wheels, with a third person (or indeed first person for the mad ones) view point and some stupidly fast speeds. It comes with the same amount of delightful irritation as the two wheeled experience and will similarly have you going back for more some many months down the line. Aside from the issues with server connectivity, loading times that are occasionally beyond a joke and strange laggy moments that only actually occur on the few tracks that utilise multiple laps, it’s a brilliant game that is as frustrating as hell, but as addictive as crack.
TrackMania Turbo won’t just appeal to racers – if you have even the smallest hint of competitivity in your soul, it’s a game for all.