(The eyes are on the street, the controller is firmly in hand, the adrenaline rises. This is what is happening to us just before the scoreboard in Trackmania finally gives the green light. Developer Nadeo has been delighting the adrenaline junkies of gaming since 2003. Scene with its popular racing game series, since July 1st the reboot of the Trackmania Nations released in 2006 can be found on the virtual shelves of Epic Games and Ubisoft.
In this test, we went to the racetrack for you and report what the reboot has to offer and where it may have to do something.
A lot has to do with that last games in the Trackmania series not changed. So if you hoped for a revolution in the racing game genre, you have to be disappointed at this point. The new title skilfully shows off the strengths of the series and includes a small innovation here and there. The constant strengths include the intuitive operation, which requires the operation of a maximum of five buttons. Throttle and brake, respawn and the direction buttons are quickly internalized.
Source: PC games
The look also looks almost unchanged. The minimalist style of the last parts was also adopted for the reboot. In the well-known stadium environment, the simple routes are ready for the competition. The cars and the landscape elements are also not visual masterpieces. For us, the mediocre look at high speed, the Trackmania is not too difficult. Decrepit graphics cards benefit even through the reserved design. Instead of the graphics, the title stands out from its predecessors in other qualities – more on that in a moment.
The interface also benefits from the expedient and tidy presentation of the game. Both in the menu and on the asphalt there are no annoying or unnecessary elements. Training, solo campaigns and multiplayer modes are found quickly. The tracks themselves offer small new features, such as a slippery surface made of ice or a slow-motion field. The latter not only helps an epic exit, it also gives players a little more time to perform delicate maneuvers. It is also particularly pleasant that we can now step on the accelerator pedal again after a respawn.
A race against time
The classic game principle, which Trackmania has been accompanying for 17 years, remains in this part of the series. Whether alone or against human opponents, the real enemy is and remains the clock. It is important to complete each course within a certain period of time to receive medals, trophies or just the satisfaction of winning. The game runs smoothly and has a pleasant learning curve. After the first laps in training mode, driving and drifting was much easier for us. In addition, the 25 training routes prepare specifically for the different terrain and the various boosts and obstacles. Thus, the racing fun does not require an annoying tutorial.
Source: PC games
If you don't want to be left alone or online, Trackmania gives you the seasonal campaigns. 25 new slopes are added every three months, where players can measure themselves against the times of all other drivers from around the world. In addition, Nadeo provides a route of the day that you can ride solo or in live mode, i.e. together with other online racing enthusiasts. The opponents of the solo modes are visible to the player on the road as a ghost driver. So we had the right feeling of competition in the test. The travel time achieved appears in a leaderboard at the end of each lap. However, a total number of all players on the respective route is not shown. When we reached 361st place in our region on a racetrack, we could not see from the table whether we ended up in the upper area or even in last place with this performance. However, our silver medal could comfort us a little. Obviously there are no medals for a specific placement, but for a fixed lap time. This means that players outside the top 10 also have a chance of a small motivation boost.
If you want to take a quick lap with your buddies on the sofa, you also have the opportunity. In the local game, depending on the mode, you can make the road unsafe with up to eight people at the same time. The short courses with bests of less than a minute are ideal for quick fun in between. Even the previous games in our co-op led to uncompromising competition. The competition-loving gamers among you should spend a little more time in the aforementioned live mode. In addition to the official campaign and the route of the day, there are also various events to discover. In addition, a certain amount of time is required to play at the very front. If you do not know the maps inside out and master all the necessary tricks, it will be difficult to secure a place on the podium.
Creativity kisses racing game
Source: PC games
Would you like a short breather? The creative modes in Trackmania offer you less rapid activities in which your energy reserves are recharged. With different colors and tools you can easily create skins for your trusty vehicles or build your own routes. This creative work can take some time to get into the country until you get behind the wheel again. The perfectionists among you in particular should plan a few hours to create a well-designed map.
In addition to the color options and various patterns, the skin editor offers the option of uploading your own pictures to place them on the car. The design itself is quite simple, but due to the lack of explanations it is not particularly intuitive. In our test session, for example, we were unable to find out how we could ultimately create our lovingly designed skin. There was a tab for skins in the profile settings, but this lacked any options to change the default skin.
We also had to worry about the lack of comments in some places with the track editor. Especially in the extended construction mode, the menu is very confusing and the plug elements lack any labeling. That would not be a problem if there were not various elements that have connecting parts for an undetectable reason that cannot be linked to the standard connections. However, if you have struggled through the arduous map creation, you will be rewarded with a test drive on your own route. Spoiler: Feeling the result of your own architecture under the tires feels incredibly cool. Under certain conditions you can then share your routes with the community and also try out the slopes of your competitors. Trackmania generally attaches great importance to the community aspect. This is particularly evident in the new club system that Nadeo has introduced in this part.
Questionable financing model
The biggest innovation of the Trackmania title is probably its interpretation for e-sports. Over 100 routes a year, several recurring events and a growing community invite players to a competitive experience. Also the new pricing model screams for e-sports. Instead of the classic one-time payment, there are now three price levels, each of which unlock a different size of game for a certain period. The Free2Play version of the game should be particularly interesting for many. This so-called "starter access" contains the most important functions and makes the racetrack free for every interested player. The "Standard" paid access is available for 10 euros per year. "Club" access for either 30 euros per year or 60 euros for three years. Both price models offer extended features for individualization as well as access to certain maps and events. This extra content does not apply after the aforementioned deadlines. With the full version and the standard version that we tested, the old slopes should be retained even after switching to starter access. Strictly speaking, it is not a subscription model. However, to fully enjoy the skill racer, players cannot avoid making regular payments. Why Ubisoft chose this rather opaque financing model remains to be seen. It doesn't make the game any better, but it doesn't stop you from having fun with Trackmania.
Clubs are the in-game clubs in Trackmania. They are founded and personalized by the players themselves. If you have club access, you can join a club of your choice and enjoy various advantages of the racing community. Within a club you can share and play your own skins and routes with the members as well as participate in internal activities. Modding is also only possible with quasi VIP access. The community maps are sometimes nastier than some campaign series, but also a lot more creative. For example, a club has set itself the task of designing lanes that look like characters from the Mario universe when viewed from above. So we had the pleasure of doing a lap on little Yoshi. If you cannot decide on a price model yet, we advise you to play the game for free and, if necessary, switch to a paid version.
The Trackmania Nations reboot wants to sell itself as an e-sports title. For this purpose, Nadeo has polished up the original title a little and added a few small innovations. The developer does not set a milestone in the gaming scene and introduces a new pricing concept with free access to its own game series. It remains to be seen whether the slimmed-down basic version of the game can keep up with the big Free2Play giants of the esports scene, as Ubisoft apparently wishes.