Anyone who’s even slightly into online gaming has heard of the phenomenon called Trackmania. After the excellent first installment of this arcade racer and the successor Sunrise there was the boom of the number of fans when the free Trackmania Nations was released. Now Nadeo presents us this version wich contains all three previous versions. What’s new?
First of all it needs to be said that this isn’t just a bundle but more like the three previous games joined in one big unity. Let’s start with the offline part wich brings us the three best known racing modes, being Race, Puzzle and Platform.
I think Race doesn’t need much explaining, this is purely about speed. Cut corners or even parts of the track if it’s possible, everything to get you through the checkpoints as fast as possible. The same goes for Puzzle, but the catch is that you’ll have to build the track first using only a number of predesignated blocks. However time does not matter for Platform races. Just get to the finish line with as little resets as possible over an insane track.
Real fanatics will probably notice that some modes like Stunt or Crazy are missing. Personally I think that’s a loss because they made the races even more varied. Hopefully the friendly people from Nadeo will cover that with an extention like Sunrise Extreme, wich by the way was free as well. Now, previously I said this was all part of a bigger unity. Then what’s the glue holding all this together?
The answer is ONLINE! Now don’t go questioning yourself too fast. Yes, you were able to play online with the previous versions as well but the difference is that the online world chases you everywhere you go. Even when you’re just doing an offline race there’s an ‘Official Race’ button to record your next attempt and post in on the tables to compare it to other players’ results. This makes sure there is always a sense of competition, always a goal be become even better.
And that’s what I find to be the biggest annoyance about United, the addiction. Every time you run the game you want to do better to get out of the regional tables, into the national or even worldwide ones. Besides those rankings, there’s also the possibility to face other players live. These races give you the opportunity to win ladder points and defend the honour of your country.
There’s also some kind of browser called ManiaLinks built into the game. Through this browser you can obtain new tracks or cars but do mind, these things don’t come for free, you will have to earn coppers for that. The easiest way is just starting the game. Each day you do that you’ll get some and even more if you own previous versions, but the fastest way is to prove your worth in the online tables. Creative people can also start their own ‘site’ to offer their own creations to the community.
The surroundings of this game are the sum of all the predecessors and as always it looks very good. The collection of blocks has once again been expanded to give you even more gameplay possibilities. For example, there’s a block that shuts down your car’s engine so you’ll have to rely on the speed you already built up to reach the next checkpoint. It is however too bad that some minor flaws from the old games have just been brought along to this new and improved version as you can witness in the rally levels where the ditches are still as bottomless as ever. If you compare that to the water from the Sunrise levels, you just know this is a lost opportunity.
The tracks you get are brand new and at times they’re simply masterpieces, my compliments to the chef, euh, level designers. They really force you to bring out the very best you’ve got. On top of that you can always download more from the community if you’ve mastered all these ‘factory-tracks’. And if you’re having a problem with a certain track, you can now just replay the best lap from any player and see how they tackle it. A very handy and helpful feature I tell you.
In short, this game is the sum of all previous Trackmania games not only in content but also in fun. People that never played Trackmania should really give this a try as far as I’m concerned. As for the early fans, it would seem that this doesn’t have a lot to offer that they don’t already have but I think the online aspect of this game is good enough to get this one as well. A must for everyone then.