TrackMania is a cool series of arcade racing games for the PC. They’re all about getting quick times on short tracks. No plot, no stats, no items, no kudos, just pure racing.
One of the cooler aspects of TrackMania is that gameplay is split into multiple environments, each with its own vehicle and unique terrain. The nuances of each environment help keep the games fresh and interesting.
These games are PC games through and through: heavy on content and modification capabilities, but light on flashy menus, tutorials, or explanations.
TrackMania Turbo is a console-focused spin-off of the TrackMania series with predictable tweaks to the formula to appeal to console gamers.
For starters, this game has mid-race voice clips. Thankfully, you can turn them off!
But you can’t really turn off the music. The controls dedicate a button to turning in-game music off and on, presumably so you can turn it on right before a sick jump. The soundtrack is electronic and it’s not my jam. I leave it off, make a mental note to not hit the dang button, and listen to Galneryus.
At least the loading screens are a tiny bit humourous. I got a good chuckle out of one with a Homer Simpson quote.
There is one new addition that I really like. In-game signs litter each track, and their various logos and slogans add a bit of charm and personality to the game.
Some of these signs actually tell you what to do. They’re usually right! Sure, they remove much of the guesswork about when you should brake or drift, but they shorten the trial-and-error process. Overall, it’s a nice plus that makes the game more accessible to newcomers.
TrackMania Turbo still has you racing around in short tracks for fast completion times, but there are a few changes. Many tracks now start with a dramatic helicopter drop. Why? Beats me. Despite this inclusion, the racing manages to feel more realistic than usual. Sure, International Stadium and Canyon Grand Drift play like traditional TrackMania environments. But the other two environments seem influenced by sim-style console racing games.
Down & Dirty Valley offers rally-style racing, and it’s the most realistic of TrackMania Turbo’s four environments. Its vehicle is quite unresponsive to turns until you brake, and then it’s prone to oversteer. This is a major quirk that’s rewarding to overcome.
Rollercoaster Lagoon juxtaposes simulation-style driving with its outlandish environment. Its vehicle has very sensitive steering (almost too sensitive if you ask me). But the tracks are tropical-themed with magnetic rollercoaster track (possibly inspired by the F-Zero series) and plenty of water that your vehicle just bounces off of. This combination lends Lagoon tracks a refreshing style of gameplay that could be unique among racing games.
The main campaign’s structure is setup so you have to play all four environments. As a player, you’re forced to understand environments that you don’t enjoy at first. This is good because Valley and Lagoon offer a rewarding challenge.
This requirement to play all of the environments could hinder your enjoyment of the game. I’m currently on the “red” (hard difficulty) set of tracks and I like all four environments. But that wasn’t always the case, and the game was less fun because those environments were less fun until I began understanding them.
I typically spend most of my time with TrackMania games in their single-player campaigns, and TrackMania Turbo delivers on that front. It’s a little different from previous TrackMania games (and completely different from the sim-style racing games and kart racers that usually make it onto consoles), but I think that racing fans will have fun with TrackMania Turbo if they are looking for arcade-style challenge.