Given that Trackmania Turbo is one of PS Plus’ free games for April 2018, we thought it’d be handy to bring this review to the front of the site for those maybe missed it the first time around. Enjoy! (Fun fact: This was Hannah’s first piece for Pure PlayStation. How lovely…)
Nowadays driving games feel as though you need a licence just to navigate the start menu. With all of their classes and mods, ride heights and tyre pressures, the classic racer is becoming a science of its own. The only thing you’re not entrusted with is turning the ignition (or pressing the button, if that’s your ride). I’m not complaining; they’re great, they’re polished, they’re real. Where else are the majority of us going to experience the luxury of driving a single-seater around Silverstone? But they need time to get good, and even more time to master. And sometimes all you have is a spare half hour that you’d like to spend out on the track, not sitting in the garage comparing gear ratios. Or trailing at the back because your engine is lacking in CCs. Sometimes you just want to throw the manual out of the window. Hello, Trackmania Turbo.
Saying all that, this is not a comparison between Gran Turismo or Project Cars. How could it be? They’re purist racing games, close to simulations, whereas Trackmania is a throwback to the care free, arcade-feel racers we all grew up with. It replaces the few pages of controls to just a couple of lines. And forget full race distance or an AI field, it’s just you versus the perfect lap. No frills, all thrills.
Its case artwork is a glimpse of the vivid worlds to come. Nadeo have steered clear of the drab colour schemes that we are used to, and have instead injected a kaleidoscope of shades. In this respect it is far closer to the likes of Mario Kart (or should that be Crash Racing) than any other game within the genre, although it exceeds it in its depth and richness of detail. Unlike said kart games, you are not armed with flying bananas, nor is there a rescue cloud to dump you back on track when you’ve steered off course; there would be little point. Trackmania races last between twenty odd seconds and a couple of minutes, meaning any mistake, no matter how slight, prove very costly and end any chance of a medal finish. That is its premise: finish each race within a certain time to achieve a bronze, silver or gold medal. Simple? Perhaps, yet it is the very reason that makes this a game that is hard to walk away from. Easy? Well, although bronze and even silver are attainable after just a few attempts, gold is challenging enough to remain elusive even after a few dozen attempts. Why medals? I’m glad you asked.
In total Trackmania has four different cars in four different zones and over 200 tracks, shared equally between the cars, the four different series’ (difficulties) and the final black tracks (hardest). You begin the game driving a drifting car on one of ten available tracks. Once you have achieved ten bronze medals, the next ten tracks are open. When you reach twenty bronze, the next ten are unlocked, and so on, changing to so many silver medals and eventually gold. Although some may consider this mean-spirited, it gives the game a purpose that would otherwise be missing and gives the player an excuse to spend so long trying to shave so little off their time. Each of the cars possess a unique style of handling, to which you become more accustomed to with each successive run. Though the controls are unrealistic, they are extremely sensitive to input and become another reason to restart. Despite their short distances, the tracks are plagued by rollercoaster loops, slippery sand, lack of gravity, strategically placed helicopters and “out of bound” regions that are very inviting, and are again successful hindrances that you will have to overcome.
Once you have set a time, the option of racing each medals respective ghost becomes available; your previous run’s ghost also joins you on track. These prove a great comparison in respect to your current performance, letting you know quite blatantly whether it is worth continuing.
Away from the solo campaign there is an ingenious co-op mode; two drivers, one car. The input from two persons is averaged and used to control the car. Yeah, it really is easier said than done; you might as well commence divorce proceedings now. A local 4-player co-op is also present, taking the form of the now increasingly rare split screen. Online up to 100 players compete against each other to achieve the fastest time over the duration of five minutes, with each car being represented as a ghost.
Another feature is the track builder. Games that offer a custom build interface are usually a clunky experience and time eater best avoided. Though it is not without its niggles, the varying levels of assist make it a simple experience should you wish to make your own, and with full access to the unique sections that make Trackmania the game that it is, your creations are truly only limited by your own imagination. Tracks can also be auto generated if you are tired of the 200 included in the game but have no desire to string one together yourself. All user-generated tracks can be promoted online, though many can prove nigh on impossible to complete.
With all this in mind, Trackmania is not without its faults. The lack of wheel to wheel co-op racing may put some off, but if that’s your cup of tea then this is not the game for you; it’s a time trial game, through and through. The level of difficulty is also harsh; in order to unlock the final black tracks a total of 190/200 gold medals is required. And the Down and Dirty Valley car tends to have a mind of its own, veering off course at the slightest input, making a good time more a matter of luck or perseverance than skill.
Summary Trackmania Turbo is a highly addictive game bursting with speed, stunts and slides. Though its premise may be simple on paper, do not underestimate the hours of challenge that it offers. If you are after a realistic experience with many factors in your control, then Trackmania is not for you. But if you crave something different to the normal off the shelf offering, and don't mind a high dose of frustration built-in, Trackmania might just be your next best buy.
Trackmania Turbo PS4 Review
Trackmania Turbo is a highly addictive game bursting with speed, stunts and slides. Though its premise may be simple on paper, do not underestimate the hours of challenge that it offers. If you are after a realistic experience with many factors in your control, then Trackmania is not for you. But if you crave something different to the normal off the shelf offering, and don't mind a high dose of frustration built-in, Trackmania might just be your next best buy.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a retail copy of the game that was bought at the expense of the reviewer. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
* Reviewed on a PS4 Slim.