Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Trackmania 2: Canyon review

The latest installment of the TrackMania series is available now, and brings more of the skill-based, stunt-filled, and drift-heavy races that the series is renowned for. For those new to the series, TrackMania games aren't traditional racing games. It's not about who has the fastest car, it's not about knocking other cars off the track and using nitrous to boost past your opponents. For one, all the cars are the same in terms of handling, it's just the exterior design that differs. TrackMania is primarily a skill game. You need to drift around corners perfectly, launch from ramps at the optimal speed and angle, all the while making sure your speed is good enough to beat the medal times. So that's the basic premise of the game, but is it any good? Read on for our verdict...
 If you've played a previous title in the TrackMania roster, chances are that it was TrackMania Nations Forever. The amazingly popular freeware title was addictive, looked good, and the mind-bending tracks had everyone hooked. TrackMania 2: Canyon, offers more of the same. Leaving the stadium of Nations Forever behind, and taking to the erm, canyon, the gameplay is pretty much identical. You must make your way around the sharp turns, huge ramps and inverted roads and get to the finish line in the quickest possible time. Sounds simple enough, if you haven't played before. If you have, you'll know that almost nothing is simple on the TrackMania universe. For the most part, the new setting doesn't really affect the courses, but now and then you must drive on the dry, dusty canyon floor. Driving straight forward is the same, but try to turn or drift and you'll completely lose control. It takes a great amount of precise control to navigate these sections pain-free. It's only a small addition, but does mix up the gameplay nicely, now and then.
The graphics on both the car and the world are great
There is a small selection of vehicles available to choose from, but it's an unnecessary option, if you're simply playing for the tracks. The cars are all exactly the same in terms of handling, power, weight, etc. All the changes is the design of the car, the colours and logos. It's a small hint of customisation, but it's hard to complain about the level of custom content when you load of the track editor. An incredibly detailed track editor is included in the game, and allows you to build tracks so creative that the actual game developers would be impressed. When these tools are released to the community, you start to get amazing creations, some of which become even more popular than the tracks included as part of the actual game. 

Upon successful completion of a track, you will get a medal, and a place on the leaderboards. TrackMania encourages competitiveness, and rewards it greatly. Gaining medals unlocks more and more tracks, getting progressively harder and longer, with more and more difficult sections such as complete loops and wall driving. Playing online is even more competitive. You can race up to 200 players on a track, with everyone trying to land the fastest time. It doesn't get too cramped though, as there are no collisions. It is so addictive and really does push your skills to the limits, as someone nabs the top spot with seconds to go.
 There are many stunts in the TrackMania universe

The main problem with TrackMania 2: Canyon is the price. When compared to TrackMania Nations Forever, a completely free title, there is not a £20 difference. It feels more like an expansion, and maybe if the price was cut in half, it would be worth it. Still, for a hefty game with an unlimited amount of potential user generated content, it isn't too expensive, but it's easy to see many people opting to go for the free version though.

The same addictive gameplay that we've come to expect from TrackMania is present, and that is both good and bad. It worked before, why won't it work now? But you could also say that if it's basically the same, why pay? Hardcore fans will love it, but the more casual player will more likely stick with TrackMania Nations Forever.

7/10

by Louis Gardner

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