Sometimes you need a game that is just pure fun. You don’t have to worry about a story or various mechanics, and all that’s required is to pick up the controller and start playing. Trackmania Turbo is one of the more recent examples of this type of game. You pick a track and try to finish it as fast possible. That’s it. It’s something you can play every day without putting in too much effort, but it becomes more enjoyable with every session.
The main campaign features a total of five series of increasing difficulty, with each one containing four levels. Within these four levels are ten tracks. That’s an astounding 200 tracks. These courses are absolutely absurd (in a good way) in design. In addition to the traditional chicanes and u-turns, you’ll have portions of a track that will have you jump across large gaps, drive up walls at a 90-degree angle, and even speed through a looped section like a roller coaster. In other words, it’s like a digital version of most Hot Wheels tracks.
Most of the courses are locked, and the only way to unlock them is by obtaining a gold, silver or bronze medal in each stage. You get these medals by beating specific times on the track. These tracks aren’t long — you’re looking at less than a minute for most of them — but they’re all packed with intensity as you try to beat the posted times.
It’s an exciting ride (no pun intended) as you round the corners and dash through the straights. The sole complaint with these courses are the multi-lap variants. The fifth and tenth tracks in each level have multiple laps, which completely break the game’s pace for no other reason than to throw more variety into the game.
Each of the four levels has its own car, so even though there are 200 tracks, you can play with only four cars for the entire game. You can also customize the visuals of each vehicle by adding flag decals, various colors or a number. You can unlock more visual options by completing levels, but even then there aren’t too many things to change on each vehicle.
Controlling each car can also take some time to master. A quick flick of the analog stick sometimes registers as a 90-degree turn, whereas a small nudge to the left or right might not be enough to turn your car around the bends. It’s a matter of finding that sweet spot, especially if you want to land properly after a jump. They act more like remote-controlled cars, so you’ll have to change the way you drive through each course.
At some point, you could hit a wall where other tracks won’t unlock. For example, the final level of the Black Series (the toughest event) requires you to get 190 gold medals before it becomes available. That level of mastery takes accuracy and a cool head as you try to get gold on every single track. It can get frustrating at times, especially when one wrong move can dash your chances at gold, but fortunately there are other activities to do in the game.
Race With Friends, Or Build Your Own Track
If you want to play with other people, you could try your hand at multiplayer events. These can range from participating in a simple race to competing for the highest stunt score by launching your car in the air at high speeds. You can also create your own challenges and see how other players stack up on their own tracks. There’s even local co-op (a rarity these days) for up to four players. If you want an even tougher challenge, you could try the new Double Driver feature. This puts you and a friend in control of one car. You’ll have to work with your partner to steer and accelerate throughout the track if you want to post decent times.
There’s also a track editor available if you want to take a break from racing. By choosing the backdrop of one of the four levels, you can create your own insane courses. The editing controls can take some time to master, but it does give you creative freedom (to a certain degree, of course) to create the track of your dreams (and other players’ nightmares). However, in order to prove that the track is appropriate for a challenge or race, you’ll have to validate it by running through it yourself. This ensures that the track is actually playable, but it also allows you to reflect on various sections of the course to see if they need to be replaced or improved.
Each track might not take long to finish, but there’s a certain addiction to shooting for better times or trying other courses. It’s this addiction that makes Trackmania Turbo an enjoyable game to play. Even if you do get frustrated with the single-player races, you can always find other things to do, such as multiplayer races, challenges or building your own tracks. It also works as a great party game, because the controls are easy to understand and there aren’t too many mechanics involved. You just race from point A to point B.
Trackmania Turbo doesn’t ask for too much of your time. You can easily play one or more tracks and move on to another game. However, the need to improve your times, coupled with the insane construction of each track, makes it a game that can keep you hooked for hours.