Taking its inspiration from classic games like Excitebike and Stunts, Nadeo’s Trackmania franchise looks to provide armchair thrillseekers with the fast and chaotic time trials that they desire. It’s done a good job of it over the years, too, as there’s a reason why the challenging but rewarding series has been around since 2003, and now marks yet another entry with the release of Trackmania Turbo on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.
Despite being just three to four gigabytes in size, Trackmania Turbo presents an impressive amount of gameplay options alongside a plethora of varied tracks. At its core, it’s all about speed and setting the best times possible, which is why those who love to compete against others for leaderboard supremacy find it so appealing. Little also comes easy here, meaning that you’ll have to fight your way to the top of leaderboards through invested hours and lots of practice. That is, unless you’re some sort of prodigy, or a series vet who knows its ins and outs like few others.
Although its online features provide lots of reason to return, the crux of Trackmania Turbo is its robust career mode. Therein, you’ll find an insane amount of tracks, each with its own unique design. These courses are separated into colour coded groups, and earning medals is the way you can progress from one to another. Be warned, though, that this is a game that wants you to strive for perfection, and requires you to earn a lot of gold medals in order to unlock its final track lists. The only way around this is to earn joker medals, which are awarded after multiple runs with a silver result.
This was my first experience with a Trackmania game, and seeing that many of the tracks were locked behind large amounts of earned silver and gold medals bothered me. As you may have gleaned from my reviews, I’m someone who strives to beat everything he plays, and loves the feeling that comes with seeing the credits roll upon completion. I’m also all for challenging games, including ones that make you practice to get better, but am not a fan of campaigns that ask too much of the player. After all, only some are good enough at such a demanding and tough genre to be able to get gold on every track.
Once I learned about the joker medals, this didn’t bother me as much. If they weren’t included, it would be a different story, but their inclusion was a smart decision. Most of my runs have been giving me silver and bronze medals, but I have received the odd gold.
Every career result is posted to the game’s leaderboards — when its servers are working — and notifications are always shown on-screen. In fact, this title goes the extra mile by showing your ranking in not only your home country and region, but also your province or state. It’s a really and interesting neat tool, to say the least.
Unfortunately, the core gameplay isn’t that accessible, as the vehicles you’re piloting can be a bit finicky. Expect it to take time before you’re used to how things work, unless you’re a returning vet, and know that this is a game where practice is key. It’s for this reason that the Y button restarts you at the nearest checkpoint, and the B button is used for complete and almost instantaneous restarts.
A lot of the developers’ tracks are challenging and devious, but that’s what this type of game is all about. Their environments range from mountains and valleys to rollercoaster parks and stadiums, but they’re all made up of similar building blocks; that being inclines, declines and sharp turns. Ramps, speed boost pads and epic jumps are also regular occurrences, and some badass moments — such as when you fly through the hole of a large donut — are there to be gawked at.
The campaign, itself, is hours long (if played consecutively and without retries), and will last you quite some time as you try to best its challenging, twists, turns and epic jumps. However, there’s more to this outing than just that. There’s also a second campaign, wherein two players control one car, as well as a few different local multiplayer modes, including a hot seat challenge. What will surely get the most playtime, though, is the online arena, wherein one can download user-created tracks or upload his or her own creations.
Multiplayer continues Trackmania Turbo‘s time-based focus and uses ghosts to show other players. It’s a smart tactic, and one that allows you to feel like you’re online without having to worry about crashing into other players. The competition is stiff, though.
Needless to say, there’s quite a bit of content to be found in what — based on its file size — can seem like a deceivingly small package. This isn’t a game that will appeal to everyone, though, and I honestly didn’t end up enjoying it as much as I had hoped. It’s less forgiving and accessible than expected, and the aforementioned progression system really killed my interest in the campaign. That’s not to say that I dislike Trackmania Turbo. It’s just not as good, or as immersive as I had hoped.
This isn’t a graphically demanding game, so that’s why the file size isn’t overly large. The visuals are fine, and there’s nothing to really complain about outside of the odd bit of screen tearing or other graphical hiccup, but this isn’t a tech showcase by any means. Then again, that’s not what anyone should expect from this title, and it’s something I knew going in. Gameplay is king here, and so is the ability to render tracks in decent time. That’s especially true when it comes to user created courses, which are quite simple to make and are also easy to download through the Global Challenges menu.
When you load certain courses, you get the ability to choose from two different lighting options. The faster one isn’t as detailed, but it allows for quicker loading and rendering. Fast doesn’t mean bad-looking, either, but you’re making concessions by choosing it.
On the other hand, the audio is pretty forgettable. Voice actors count down to the beginning of each run, using a different language each time, and other than that there’s a combination of arcade-y sound effects and pulse pounding music. Not good music, though, because Trackmania Turbo’s techno tunes leave a lot to be desired and will have people turning to their iPods or stereos.
At the end of the day, Trackmania Turbo is a game that will emit different responses from different people. While it’s not exactly for me, I still respect what it is and what it’s trying to accomplish.
This review is based on the Xbox One version of the game, which we were provided with.
Trackmania Turbo is a fast and challenging game, which offers a lot of content despite its small install size. It is, however, somewhat frustrating and demanding, which means that it won't be for everyone. That said, there's a large community of gamers who love this type of experience, and those folks will eat it up.