We’ve re-launched our Trackmania Turbo review following its inclusion in the PlayStation Plus April 2018 free games line-up. You can download it for free on the PlayStation Store in April.
Trackmania Turbo Review
t's hard to go back and forth from an arcade racer to simulation racer, but when it comes to a time trial racer then you have another spanner thrown in for good measure. While you have your circuits or roads to travel along, Trackmania Turbo opts for a custom affair full of loops, drops, twists, speed boosts, jumps, and it's something that makes even Mario Kart look plain in comparison. The stunts you pull in Trackmania Turbo are beyond anything you have played before.
To get into Trackmania Turbo quickly you need to head into the campaign to flesh out the many different driving styles required to take on the daring stunt devils of the world online. Faced with that proposition are the 200 time-trial races before you, each requiring a bronze, silver, or a gold medal to continue to the next stage - or trackmaster if you're that fast!
There are a total of five series - white, green, blue, red, and the extremely difficult black. Each of these series are split into four stages (or settings) comprising of ten time-trials in each. To unlock the next stage, you need to get all bronze, silver, or gold medals to continue. In the case of the Black series you must get gold on every single race in the other series to even unlock the series let alone master the tracks in the Black series too.
The four stages are taken from past games. There's Canyon Drift, Down and Dirty Valley, Rollercoaster Lagoon, and the infamous International Stadium taken directly from the free Trackmania Nations game. These four stages all have their own vehicle for you to wrestle the neck off.
Each of the stages have completely different driving styles. In Canyon, for example, you hurtle through an American Style Grand Canyon landscape in a stripped down car. Down and Dirty Valley is more akin to a dirt track in the hills and mountains. Rollercoaster Lagoon is just that, a fuel injected rollercoaster ride that looks just like a rollercoaster and takes you through many twists, loops, and odd looking bends on a desert island. Then there's the Stadium tracks with you in an open wheeled racer that has tons of grip, but they also take you on a dirt track on occasions.
Whether you play the campaign or online, you have to try and get the fastest time possible. Getting through the campaign awards you the medals that unlock décor items for your vehicles. Customising your vehicle allows you to show your individuality online. Getting certain unlisted trophies nets you uPlay points. If you have connected your PSN account to your uPlay account, then you can spend these points on a further five unlockable full skins. Why they don't have them available without a uPlay account is a bit puzzling but they're not a necessity to have.
Once you start earning your medals and race positions online, you then start increasing your overall world ranking. As of right now there are over 405,000 players playing the game and you can have your ranking shown based on your current location, in my case I chose my location of World -> UK -> England, so I am currently ranked World 63, UK 2, England 1. If you have that competitiveness in your genes, then you will want to push yourself to be higher up in the rankings.
Racing online is very different to the challenges, instead of a series to play through you have lobbies to join. These are set up by players that have either made custom tracks, or are using the current challenge tracks to race on. Before joining any room, you can see how many players have joined (usually a maximum of 100 players per room), the country hosting the room, and the stages being used. If you care about the difficulty of players you'll be going up against then (on the far right) is a level of the opponents you will go up against, this is based on your world ranking.
If there's a particular user you race frequently with on their servers, then you can favourite that room and join it at any time instead of sifting through a massive list of rooms that fills up pretty quickly. You can also create your own rooms with a set track list to help set up races that much quicker.
When the races start, it triggers just like before, 3.. 2.. 1.. Go! Except this time there are hundreds of ghost cars on screen at once! It is very unusual for a game to show all 100 ghost cars at once on screen and it can obscure your view at the start, but once the time-trial gets further into the session then it is much easier to see the road - but seeing people fly off the road in all manner of directions is a laugh in itself. If you have several friends, then you can always create a private room to invite them in. Warning: in this mode your friends will become your frenemies!
Or if you want them to stay as your buddy then grab two controllers and race in the same car, which sounds odd but that's exactly what you can do. When driving around the track you drive like you need to, but to get around a corner you need your co-pilot to help you! If you turn right they need to turn right, if you accelerate then they need to do the same. All of your inputs are effectively halved meaning that coordination is of the utmost importance. Fancy more multiplayer mayhem without wanting to go online? Then as long as you have four controllers then you can have a four-way splitscreen to have even more friends to shout at in the near vicinity.
It is all about competitiveness and Trackmania Turbo brings it out of you no matter the kind of person that plays it. To make things even more competitive, you can create a track that is so bonkers and twisted that you might wonder how someone might get around that track - ever! Throw it up online and see if anyone can manage it, no matter how people fail at that track, there will always be the odd one or two people that surprise the hundreds and thousands that fail.
If only creating a decent track was that simple, but you are given only a few pieces to create a track from, which are typically a straight, a rise or drop that levels off (so you can't get a smooth gradual elevation change), a sharp or medium corner, a boost, a checkpoint, or a finish line. Considering what was available in even Trackmania Nations all those years ago, this is very basic in comparison.
There are small variations of each of the track parts including going from a double lane to a single lane, or depending on the environment you would get a dirt track or a road. And with a couple parts on each settings saying “blocked by terrain”, even if you have that part somewhere in the middle of the sky, you kind of wonder if that part is ever available to use at all.
The only track that can be made somewhat different to the others is Rollercoaster Lagoon, and even then, despite being able to make tracks at funny angles, they are essentially the same pieces – a straight and a bend – but at least you can create a half-loop. None of the available options are even available for a jump, twists, actual loops, or anything that was available in the campaign. A missed opportunity here.
Lastly is the framerate, which is oh so close to being a solid 60FPS (and at most times it is), but at some points you can see a noticeable drop in frames, even if it's only slight. As the game is a must for a high framerate, having these dips can be an anomaly that is better out of site than present. Thankfully it happens at certain sections so you can change your driving style in accordance to where it is ahead of time.
Trackmania Turbo is flippin' fun and strikes gold with its copious amounts of content and unlockables. With such a thriving community, 200 main tracks, you will be far from bored well into the future. Nadeo are well known for their Trackmania games and this time they have struck gold, though haven't quite achieved perfection due to the basic track editor and occasional framerate drops.