Trackmania Turbo lays its cards on the table from the off. Bright colours, a huge ‘Insert Coin’ logo and fast arcade-style music tell you all you need to know about the experience. This is as much a love letter to 80s and 90s arcade racing as it is a Trackmania game.
But let us rewind a little here. If you don’t know what the series is all about it may feel like a bit of a shock to a normal racing fan. For a start there are no other cars on the circuit save for your own and a ghost car from your best lap. If you’re racing against the computer’s Bronze, Silver or Gold times then you’ll also get the ghost car from that run, too, but there are no other real cars to smash into or race against. No, this is a time trial game, pure and simple.
The best way to describe it to someone new to the series is that it’s Trials HD meets Ridge Racer. In other words; this is a bright and flashy car game with loud arcade-style music, tracks that will try to eat you for breakfast and some incredibly tough challenges to complete in order to open the next set of tracks.
Expect loop-the-loops, magnetic tracks that stay upside down for ages, huge jumps, massive U-turns and more as you make your way across 4 different terrain types in different vehicles. Like any arcade game, you’re given the cars and there are no option to tune, change or modify them, short of unlockable paintwork. You’re just told to get on with the job at hand.
But completing the same track for the 10th time in order to get gold was never a chore. OK, so I swore and cursed under my breath and I might have once almost thrown the controller across the room, but all in a good way! You get better and you learn how to shave those all-important seconds off your time, too.
Later tracks are locked behind the need to earn certain numbers of medals. Bronze should be fairly easy for most people to get on the first couple of tries and will unlock the next set of 40 stages, but silver will take more work and you won’t be able to play the third set of tracks until you’ve got silver in every previous track. Gold? Well, that’s another story completely. There are, thankfully, a few tokens you can use to unlock tracks where the silver or gold just elude you.
Even when you’ve finished mastering all the tracks on offer there’s the track designer. The developers have done wonders here with making a designer fit for beginners and experts at the same time. You can build a track in mere minutes or spend hours tinkering with bits as you play through it then pop back to the editor to tweak your masterpiece. Upload this and watch other people try to beat your time.
Other multiplayer modes give you the ability to hot-seat or leave the game on for parties, plus the rather daft but brilliant mode where you both sit in the same car and have to co-ordinate your steering. Now if that’s not a mode to make or break a friendship, I don’t know what is!
The PC version has a slight edge over Xbox One due to the controller on the console being a little too finicky for my liking and also the fact that there were a few noticeable slow-downs while racing, but for the most part they both ran well.
Trackmania Turbo may be a little different, a little more brash than previous entries but it does wear the name well and yet it’s instantly accessible to newcomers. Just don’t expect to sail through it without a lot of swearing.
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