Thursday, 23 February 2012

Game Review: TrackMania² Canyon

Trackmania² Review
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Nadeo
Platforms: PC
Genres: MMO Racing
Release Date: September 14th 2011
Price: £19.99

The first Trackmania game I played was Trackmania Nations back when it came out in the beginning of 2006. A racing game built to be insane and incredibly fun to play. It was, and still is, free to the world and each nation was racing to win the world cup, which somebody somewhere ended up doing. Five and a half years, and a couple of games later, they have released the ambitious sequel: TrackMania² Canyon.
First let me tell you that this game has no story or campaign; isn't your usual racing game; and is not all about impressing it's audience with stunning, state-of-the-art graphics or incredibly realistic & innovative controls. This game is all about having fun and trust me: You will.
TrackMania2 Canyon is the first in a series of TrackMania2 titles that Nadeo are developing and Ubisoft are going to be releasing over the course of the next couple of years, along with the ShootMania and QuestMania games they're developing for the ManiaPlanet project.

I played the beta of this game a week before its day of release, as I pre-ordered it almost as soon as I had seen that trailer as Nadeo have yet to release a bad TrackMania PC release. The beta included the online multiplayer and the track editor only, which is basically half of the game.

The online multiplayer:

The online multiplayer is great fun, the best part being that you will almost never play the same track twice, making every time you play a brand new experience. However at the same time some tracks are so great that you just want to play them over and over, but it's all part of the ride I suppose.
Each server can have up to 200 players racing on the selected track at any one time. This means you're constantly trying to better your time on each track to attempt to get in the top 16. You'll want to stick at the game no matter what because if you stop playing it for any significant amount of time, you'll descend hundreds to possibly thousands of places in the world leaderboards. Don't be too disappointed if you come back to play after a few days and find yourself at a lower world position.

Players in the world of TrackMania are rarely if ever aggressive and never ruin the fun for anybody else. Every player is there for the same reason and that reason is: To have fun and challenge yourself more than anything else. With hundreds of game servers to choose from from almost every country/region in the world, you'll always be playing new tracks with new people and the tracks have a massive range from short simple beginner tracks to long and incredibly complex difficult tracks, some of which you may never finish and you'll want to keep starting again until you finally cross that finish line that you've come so close to so many times over.

Single player campaign:

The single player is straight forward and set out very simply: Each difficult has a colour and each colour has a different page full of tracks to choose from. Each page of tracks to begin with will have every track padlocked apart from the first, and gaining a bronze/silver/gold/platinum medal will unlock the next track and so forth. The beginning tracks are very straight forward, and are mainly there to get you used to the type of track you'll be facing ahead. If you have played any other Trackmania titles, you'll know that the controls are different for each game/environment. I'd like to say that the controls in this game, are the best they've ever had, and in some ways put a realism in amongst all of the madness that is the Trackmania world.
As the tracks get harder and you get to the more difficult colours and tracks, they really do get hard. Not only do they get very hard in fact, but you have to have gold to move onto the next track, which is far from being unfair. The way they've done it is very clever, it either makes you give up on the game entirely and continue with the online, or it'll make you determined as ever to get that gold no matter how many hundreds of tries it takes.

The game also has a pretty thorough track editor, which allows you to change the environment from high mountains to deep canyons with intertwining tunnels for you to speed through and gives you the freedom to make tracks brain numbingly simple or mind bogglingly complex leaving the only real restrictions to your creativity. I'd like to point out that my tracks are always pretty rubbish, which says something about my creativity doesn't it? The same goes for the paint editor, allowing you to paint your car in any way you like, giving you a huge choice in shapes and logos to help, or you can do it all from scratch, it's really up to you! I don't know about you but I always find enormous amounts of fun in painting my own car to just how I like it, and making my own tracks in games for myself and other to try out, which I think is what boosts this game in so many ways. Without user made content the game would have such limits and be incredibly dull, and user driven games, as I'm sure you'll agree, are some of the best there are.

Trackmania 2 Canyon's diverse track editor

It's worth a mention that the game has a split-screen multiplayer mode, and you can have up to four players racing the tracks at once. Don't worry about having to share the keyboard between four people as you can use an Xbox 360 controller, or any other wired controller for PC. Split-screen multiplayer is something that I certainly find is lacking in some console and especially PC games. It's all well and good playing with your friends online and having a large screen all to yourself but I find that when I have friends over and we feel like playing games, we struggle to find a split-screen enabled game unless it came out on a previous generation console, bar a few occasional releases of course.


As I haven't properly mentioned the game's graphics yet I feel as if I'd better reassure you. Even though I said the game developers weren't trying to impress anyone with stunning graphics, they have still managed to achieve a level of impression regardless of their intentions. The soul purpose of the game is to have fun, they've created that perfectly while managing to let you have some eye candy at the same time. The visuals are very impressive on a medium to high range computer. Although the game only came out late last year, you need not to worry about upgrading your PC to reach some over the top specification requirements. It doesn't take a super powerful rig to be able to play this game on highest visuals. It runs very quickly and smoothly while looking absolutely gorgeous while tracks are composed of incredible landscapes, twists, and turns.


I find this game hugely enjoyable and every month the online community is still ever growing at a steady rate. It's a game you can always go back to even after leaving it in a dusty cupboard for several months, and pick up right where you left off (albeit lower on the leaderboard rankings) and get back into the excitement and the frustration that comes right along with it. It of course has its faults and there are some things that can certainly be improved, but I'd recommend you do not let the small faults put you off even for a second. If you're looking for a fun non-serious racer you will love this game. 

- Will Leatherbarrow


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