Thursday, 17 May 2018

First Impressions: Trackmania Turbo

Vroom. Start your engines. Ready, set, go! Reverse bay park. Nitros activate. 6 point observation. Big jump ahead! Make sure your wing mirror is adjusted properly. 20th gear. Always wear a seatbelt.

These are all car terms, some more fantastical than others, showing the two ways a racing game can go - realism or arcade. Trackmania Turbo is firmly in the latter, and it loves it.

I received Trackmania Turbo as a free PlayStation Plus game, ticking off yet another from the list of 'well, this looks interesting but I'll probably never get it'. I popped on for a quick race, and an hour and a half later had completed two championships and earned a whole host of achievements and silver medals. However, this was merely the beginning...

This game is as big as you want it to be. You can speed through the levels, getting the minimum medal count needed to progress (progressively getting harder, of course). Or you can go for gold, or top the rankings, in a surprisingly in-depth leaderboard system - you can add sections up to your area in the country e.g. East Midlands. Now, I started trying to go for gold in the beginning. I replayed the levels over and over, chasing the dream. Now I'm satisfied with silver to be honest - to get gold you need to be flat out basically all the time and know the courses like the back of your hand. That takes time.

The actual racing has been fun so far. A mix between Forza Horizon 3's Hot Wheels DLC and Mario Kart 8, Trackmania Turbo has had me jumping 500m, looping a rollercoaster and sliding down a hill with no engine on. If you thought that Mario Kart 8's gravity defying tricks were tame, then Trackmania Turbo is a step up. So much so that the VR mode which is advertised makes me feel slightly sick just thinking about it.

A slight annoyance I've had with the game is the sudden change in physics and grip depending on the road surface. Now, I expected some change, a bit more drift off-road, for example. What I didn't expect was to shoot off the road, rolling three times before landing on my roof, only to slowly roll back over. This was on the first turning. My advice is to play third-person on the track, allowing you to keep your back end in check around the tight corners and to play first-person off-road, as it seems to make you more secure. First-person does feel a bit like you become a floating camera, but it serves its purpose. Again, VR must be insane.

Besides VR, I have a whole host of other modes left to try. There's the regular multiplayer, track editing (which I've never been any good at, but we'll have a go) and co-op. Co-ops a bit different this time around however. From what I can gather from videos and the help section it involves two people controlling the same car, one controlling speed, the other direction. While I'd love to play, maybe a bit of insurance on the controllers wouldn't go amiss.

Finally, in a technical aspect the game has met my expectations. The graphics are good, if a bit indie-budgeted (it's published by Ubisoft) and the colours vibrant. The music is classic arcade racer, serviceable but nowhere near the level of Mario Kart's soaring scores. One thing I do like however, is that the voice over to start the race changes language each time you play. It adds to the idea of an international racing stadium (the game's setting) and is just a cool addition, to be honest.

Conclusion: overall, I've enjoyed my time with Trackmania Turbo, a game which is perfectly satisfied being what it is. It doesn't try to shoehorn a story in like The Crew or Need For Speed. It is simply content with being an arcade racer, and excels in its job title. A great game to relax with, especially in exam season and my go-to for A-Levels (Rocket League was GCSE's).

So far I've completed the White (easiest) championship, and am about a quarter of the way through the next one. What's your opinion on the game? Are you a top 100 player or just play for fun? Have you tried the VR section? Let us know in the comments below

Thanks for reading, Satamer.


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