Take one look at Trackmania Turbo and you might think that it's a game that doesn't take itself too seriously. The colourful environments, cartoonish cars and rollercoaster tracks give off the impression that the series is more about flashing lights and lightning-fast speed than it is about driving, but you'd be completely wrong. This is the most hardcore racing game I've ever played.
While Project Cars
may focus on a realistic experience, trying to replicate the world of motorsport with everything from tweaking suspension to making sure the upholstery of the seats match the real-life cars they're portraying, Trackmania
strips everything back to the purity of driving around tracks and trying to shave milliseconds off of lap times.
There's not a huge roster of licensed cars or real life tarmac to drive them around. In Trackmania Turbo
you have four cars, each with wildly different handling models. You can't race them against each other and there's nothing to tweak to give you any advantage.
The only way to ensure that you reach the finish line before your competitors is to be a better driver. Whether that's following the racing line in the F1-style cars or catching the perfect drift in the stadium ones. Each vehicle requires you to take risks to succeed by knowing when to either tap the brake or resist going anywhere near it.
Although there seems to be a lack of variety where car choices are concerned, it genuinely feels like the most varied racer out there. One race will see you resetting to the start if you as much as clip a wall, while the next will have you only going back to a checkpoint to try and get past the obstacle you've been stuck on for a minute or two.
For me, this exercise in trying to piss me off is a fun aside but it's not where the real game is. I like the speed of the F-Zero
-esque courses that test your nerve by making you go as fast as you possibly can while trying to straighten up just before a jump that would otherwise flip you out into the mountains. Or the Burnout
-style races that force you to drift inches from the inside of a corner in the hope that a fraction of a second might be knocked off of your final time.
Whichever style of racing you prefer in Trackmania Turbo
, the road to success is the same. You run the course, learn it and then run it over and over again until you feel as though you're about to have a breakdown.
Occasionally you'll hit the sweet spot and your heart will pound as you pray that the sweat on your thumb doesn't stop you from nailing the last corner. Then, you'll either be punching the air or setting fire to the local go-karting track.
If like me you're new to the series then you might be mistaken in thinking that the game's campaign mode is the main focus. Over 200 tracks you're tasked with beating set times in order to win medals. Unlock enough and you'll have access to the next set of tracks.
It's a good way to learn the game's basics. You get a feel for the handling of the four different cars and start to learn little tricks to improve times, but it's not where the real action it.
Take the game online and you open yourself up to 100-player races. Collisions are off, but you can see all racers on screen at once and it's handled perfectly. It creates the sort of mayhem that you'll never see in any other game as you take the first corner and see 50% of the other racers flipping out into the air.
The idea of this game mode is to complete the track or lap in the fastest time possible. You'll have a set time to run the track as many times as you want and infinite restarts. The higher up the leaderboard you finish, the more it affects your online ranking and my god is it addictive.