The best Stunts!-style game I have ever seen barring the original classic, TrackMania is a wonderful underdog from French developer Nadeo, once published exclusively on-line by Digital Jesters. The excellent review at PC Gameworld says it all: |
"Some throw at you stupendous graphics, involving gameplay, incredible AI etc. But there is always an overriding attractiveness to sheer, undiluted simplicity if the concept is good enough. TrackMania fulfils that basic but important craving. You remember Scalectrix? You had to build your own tracks and send miniature cars flying round them at breakneck speeds without letting them fall off. A simple idea I'm sure you’ll agree, but so much fun!! TrackMania is basically a modern digital representation of that timeless concept.
There are two main modes to play through; Race and Puzzle. Race is fairly standard fare, speed along the pre-built tracks in the fastest times to beat the set scores. Puzzle is where things become more interesting, since you are required to modify existing tracks, or even build new ones from scratch in order to obtain the fastest times. There are few rules in this mode, so expect to find yourself veering off the beaten track and taking plenty of shortcuts. Car handling is purely arcade, and very easy, letting even novice drivers have a reasonable attempt. Your dinky little vehicle zips round like a lunatic Jack Russell on heat, bouncing and bounding under, through and over the various obstacles that litter your way.
There are three different types of scenery, each with individual track sections and unique physics properties. The first is a snowy wilderness that provides wooden tracks for you to travel through the slush. Ice is particularly fun to navigate, in fact I frequently abandon the sterility of the defined track and meander in the frozen wastes for a lark. The desert sections are amidst an arid wasteland, with grippy tarmac and gravel roads. The final scenarios are within a countryside setting, featuring mud tracks, slippery roads, and plenty of green grass, to the backdrop of rolling hills, torpid rivers, and small rural habitations.
There are unfortunately no AI drivers to compete against, but you can race alongside your fastest ghost replay instead. Alternatively, playing multiplayer over the internet or LAN holds much fun as you can partake in frantic battles against ten or more other racers. The game is something you can play with for five minutes or five hours, and still enjoy yourself. Another compelling feature is the track editor, in which you get to spend all the cash you have won from the races and puzzles. There are limitless possibilities for creative minds here, especially considering the huge array of different pieces that you can use to make up your track. Plus, once you have constructed your towering masterpiece of magnificence, you can take it online, to let others race your track with you. Alternatively, the lazier option is to capitalise on the hard work of others, and search out other great tracks from budding designers.
Whoever you are, whatever your background, whatever your age, Trackmania is bound to appeal. It presents an innocent and undiluted slice of pure fun, and that makes a refreshing change from much of the convoluted garbage that litters the shop shelves. We need more games like this!"
Reviewed by: Underdogs