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Trackmania Wii review

Half Scalextric, half voyage into the insane pursuit of perfection

Don't be fooled by Trackmania's friendly good looks. Trackmania is a beast of simple compulsion. The presentation is simple, the racing tracks are short - the idea is to play them again, and again, until you get it right.

Your single player career begins with races, controlling six vehicles with radically different handling. The track-hugging F1 cars, the comically oversized and heavy-drifting Coast levels, the turn-on-a-sixpence buggies... each of the six track types comes with a car that you'll grow to love as you learn its quirks.

You'll need to learn all 120 tracks well as one bounce from a bumper will have you tapping the minus button to restart the course. Fortunately, it's the ability to do this instantly that makes Trackmania compulsive and infuriating in equal measures.

Click to view larger image

And Relax...

It's not all nerve-fraying tension though. The track creation mode is where you can briefly relax as the simple interface lets you quickly snap tracks together, and you can spend the coppers you earn from medals in the main game on unlocking new blocks. It's occasionally tricky to get everything to snap together - especially when you're making a track with pieces at different heights - but once you learn to use the rotate and zoom tools, it gets a lot easier.

After making your first track, you'll unlock the puzzle levels, which are a clever combination of race and track creation. You're given an incomplete track and enough pieces to complete it, and then you have to finish the race in a given time. Some puzzles are obvious but later on, they become a devious, testing and brilliant exercise in efficiency. It's just a shame there aren't many puzzle levels (there are just 21) and that the unlock conditions are so tough.

The same goes for the platforming levels, and this is where you'll get up to some of the game's most immediately satisfying and ridiculous acrobatics. These levels are rated not by time, but by the number of retries required to complete them. This allows for longer, more testing tracks, but again, the unlock conditions are harsh and may prove too testing for most people's patience levels.

Trackmania's multiplayer is a curiously serious, Olympian affair. You race against ghosts, in a bid to shave hundredths of seconds off your time. It's still exciting, but taking that element of blue shell unfairness out of the equation is what makes Trackmania such an unapologetically hardcore affair.

For all its unforgiving nature though, Trackmania is still a huge amount of fun. The single player mode provides a good variety of challenges and the track creation and sharing feature is great. But just remember: despite its immediate appeal, Trackmania is a game that only really opens up with dogged persistence. If you don't have that in plentiful supply, move along.

Comments

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  1. CrimsonViper Wednesday 22nd Sep 2010 at 12:22

    I have De Ja Vu from when ONM said Super Mario Galaxy 2 was hard. What a disappointment that was. Also, I don't think you should be able to mark down a game because it's challenging. To me, that's the whole point of a game so I'll be definitely getting this.

  2. super saiyan Wednesday 22nd Sep 2010 at 13:04

    This game looks far too arcade-like for me, the wii needs a quality realistic racing sim, but it has yet to deliver 1.

  3. lminett Wednesday 22nd Sep 2010 at 13:33

    I think this is right up my street really, and i love the older games so ill probs get this

  4. Hylian_Grouch Wednesday 22nd Sep 2010 at 14:20

    i might get this. i was expecting a bad review but 79 % is not too horrific

  5. markdean2012 Wednesday 22nd Sep 2010 at 14:26

    I have De Ja Vu from when ONM said Super Mario Galaxy 2 was hard. What a disappointment that was. Also, I don't think you should be able to mark down a game because it's challenging. To me, that's the whole point of a game so I'll be definitely getting this.

    indeed its rather stupid marking down trackmania for being "hard" when they didnt mark super mario galaxy 2 for being "hard" of course this isnt a nintendo game so had little chance of getting 90% from them.

  6. matey Wednesday 22nd Sep 2010 at 15:51

    I think this is right up my street really, and i love the older games so ill probs get this

    I know it sounds like a 85/100 game the way they explain it

  7. LaytonMario3 Wednesday 22nd Sep 2010 at 16:27

    Nuts, not as good as the DS version.

  8. Tom Nook Rules Wednesday 22nd Sep 2010 at 17:13

    I have De Ja Vu from when ONM said Super Mario Galaxy 2 was hard. What a disappointment that was. Also, I don't think you should be able to mark down a game because it's challenging. To me, that's the whole point of a game so I'll be definitely getting this.

    indeed its rather stupid marking down trackmania for being "hard" when they didnt mark super mario galaxy 2 for being "hard" of course this isnt a nintendo game so had little chance of getting 90% from them.


    i dont think they're marking it down for being hard, i think its beacuse it shows you how to play the game then abandons you with a steep difficulty increase.

  9. McSam Wednesday 22nd Sep 2010 at 18:43

    I'm torn. This or super scribblenauts?

  10. Al3x Wednesday 22nd Sep 2010 at 20:25

    This review is very slim on information and reads more like a very, very short preview, most likely because the author was clueless and didn't give it the attention the now legendary series deserves... Maybe he's saving it for Trackmania 2 coming to his preffered consoles or something like that...

    A) There's barely any information on the content. Ok, there are so and so themes, and so many tracks, but how many of them are actual tracks and not meant as tutorials, how does the single player mode progress, is it compelling enough, etc... How does the track complexity and the frame rate hold up in the single and multiplayer modes, is it silky smooth 60 fps (though I understand custom tracks may overdo it and lower it, but I'm talking about the official stuff), a passable 30, or less with technical issues?

    B) Considering the online mode is the most important aspect of the series, its misrepresented. You race against ghosts? Did they really take out concurrent playing, or is this a bad way to explain that you can play with others but there's no interaction between you (no collisions etc) as any players can reset their lap any time they want in a bid to make the best time for the session (though you can still see the opponents and how they pass through the various track sections to get ideas)?

    C) Surprisingly enough, you bother mentioning track creation is there and easy to do, but what about track SHARING, another important aspect of the series? It's "great"? What does that mean? Can you find and download and upload tracks easily and seamlessly as in say, Boom Blox Bash Party from EA, or is it a needlessly complex and restricted way involving friend codes or whatever else?

    D) How come you got this review copy when the game has been delayed, and will there be any changes to the code and content by then? Or has it been pushed forward again and will be identical to the version reviewed?

    E) It's a competitive game, of course the difficulty is not something to take points for (especially since it's difficulty that comes from the skill of other players), not to mention it's very weird you even experienced this when nobody outside media members even has the game yet (ok, pirates have it also, but only as of today, since one of your colleagues leaked it).

  11. LaytonMario3 Wednesday 22nd Sep 2010 at 20:27

    I'm torn. This or super scribblenauts?

    Super scribbklenauts. Or layton 3 :)

  12. LiamGodOfFood Wednesday 22nd Sep 2010 at 21:31

    I honestly thought this was going to be a gold award. ONM hyped it up with previews and screenshots, procliaming it could be a challenger to Mario Kart.

    I have to say, this is quite a vague review. I can only assume more detail is reserved for the actual mag, because judging by what this article says, this game is innovative, works well, is addictive, fresh and simple, yet it gets less than 80% because it's hard, and has a poor soundtrack. Pur-lease.

    Being hard is a good thing, I don't want to be able to finish it quickly. And if you doon't like the soundtrack, turn it off and listen to your MP3 or something- admittedly this is a flaw, but not a major one.

    The review didn't really go into these 'faults', and the only mention is the +/- bit at the end! Unless we're all missing something vital, this seems a vague, uninformative (as Al3x said) and slightly suurreal review- so many positives, so few negatives mentioned, yet it is deemed worthy of 79%! From what I've read, it should be 85%-95%!

    Unless this game is a lot worse than it seems, I find this a very confusing review!

  13. CrimsonViper Wednesday 22nd Sep 2010 at 23:29

    Reviews are always shorter online than they are in the mag. It makes you spend the money to buy the mag.

  14. Al3x Wednesday 22nd Sep 2010 at 23:49

    Well there seem to also be factual errors as the (cool) official website mentions over 200 tracks while the review here mentions 120 tracks exactly. Unless they're doing false advertising: www.trackmaniawii.com

    If they want to sell the magazine they should advertise its exclusive content here more, post online the major articles like reviews with more delay, and not misrepresent its content with butchered versions like this here piece (if it's indeed cut down) without even a disclaimer explaining this... Unless they're shifting away from print media to online focused in which case they shouldn't do any of this except the last bit, fixed by posting the full version instead of having a disclaimer...

  15. DavidVM Thursday 23rd Sep 2010 at 00:34

    Hey, compared to most games this gen, SMG2 is pretty damn hard when you go for the full gambit of 240 stars. It might not be as hardcore as Monster Hunter Tri or Sin and Punishment 2 but it still provides a decent challenge compared to most (actually, all) triple A titles at least.

  16. Giga Thursday 23rd Sep 2010 at 12:25

    At the end of the day trackmania is a very old pc game, you might as well get tht but you have to commend the developers for wanting to bring the games to a wider audience.
    I'd buy it if I can find it cheap.

  17. Al3x Thursday 23rd Sep 2010 at 12:37

    Yeah, it's been on PC for ages, but it's not an "old game, don't care" deal, it's a "wow, the legendary franchise for the first time on home console" deal. If World of Warcraft is announced for PS360 I'm sure very few, if any, will write similar to your post. We do need more details than provided to know if what makes it great remains in this version, and there's nothing else like this on consoles. Maybe some Hot Wheels games and such but none hold up this well quality wise. Besides, the reviewer obviously wasn't familiar with the franchise so to him it was potentially all new, and the game doesn't look too shabby. Even on PC it looks really really good despite being essentially a 2006 game (so, of this generation still console wise) thanks to superb design and great post processing effects. Of course the Wii version doesn't appear to be as pretty. It is a budget title though. Yes, the PC version on Steam can be had for $10 less, but that's not a boxed copy. You may be able to find it cheaper somewhere but even Amazon lists the retail release of the PC game more expensive than Wii (United, the last one, not Rising). TrackMania hasn't lost its value.

  18. yubel Thursday 23rd Sep 2010 at 22:11

    Will definitely pick this up soon.
    I really enjoyed the DS version, and so this appealed to me immeidiatly as it was announced.
    I could also do with the challenge, so that's a + in my opinion.

  19. PeaceGirl Friday 24th Sep 2010 at 05:48

    I love the DS version and really want to get this. I'm annoyed that they hyped it all up in previews and now they are saying it's too hard. Whats wrong with a bit of hard...maybe they are used to race games being easy like Mario Kart.

  20. LaytonMario3 Saturday 25th Sep 2010 at 07:15

    I love the DS version and really want to get this. I'm annoyed that they hyped it all up in previews and now they are saying it's too hard. Whats wrong with a bit of hard...maybe they are used to race games being easy like Mario Kart.

    Mario kart is NOT easy. Once you finish 100cc on any game it gets really tough. And the first one's hard throughout...

  21. Al3x Saturday 25th Sep 2010 at 09:06

    First Impressions:

    The graphics are a decent down-port that still looks nice enough, the interface is slick, there is offline and 6 player online multiplayer and leaderboards, a ton of tracks and skins to unlock, the full track editor, and seemingly everything that makes TM great.

    Then you find out (and you don't find out from reviews like this, because the writers are clueless and call the sharing "great") that players cannot actually download custom tracks outside official DLC and friend-only (using the friend code system with a game specific code, not even taking advantage of developments that allow the use of the system's own code and friend list seen in newer games) sharing.

    The Wii is not a PC, users can't just hop on a website and download custom content, so by not building a backend to support uploading and downloading custom tracks from any user, ranked by popularity, ratings, themes, type, etc, like EA's Boom Blox Bash Party for Wii did over a year ago (this uses a similar track creation so the transferred files are really tiny, just including the positioning of the various track pieces you use), Firebrand have effectively ripped off half the game's heart and appeal.

    I was hyped for this even after learning the Bay theme was absent, but without the ability to easily get and compete worldwide on custom tracks, I'm not. This is a shame as almost everything else seems spot-on, you can even upload ghosts for high scores, though there's also no Country selection/ranks, and some other things.

    I just can't believe Nadeo allowed a port of TM without this critical component.

    My 2 cents, the reason I won't be buying it at launch price, if at all, and the reason I'll be telling friends to stick with Nations or get United for cheap.

    Don't blame the Wii audience if this doesn't sell so well, the game is still good but it has lost half its point of existence for many (and barely anyone knows it's out)...

  22. herbiethecar Saturday 25th Sep 2010 at 19:39

    PeaceGirl wrote:
    I love the DS version and really want to get this. I'm annoyed that they hyped it all up in previews and now they are saying it's too hard. Whats wrong with a bit of hard...maybe they are used to race games being easy like Mario Kart.


    Mario kart is NOT easy. Once you finish 100cc on any game it gets really tough. And the first one's hard throughout...
    _________________

    How is Mario kart wii not easy, i completed within a month of getting it, and that was with my sister begging me to go on wii sports resort everytime she was in the house

  23. Colgax Sunday 26th Sep 2010 at 04:43

    Oh man, I was so excited with this game...

    The gameplay is awful compared to TM United

    On Stadium tracks, at least, the car is incredibly light and has two bugs:

    1-There are some objects that you can almost pass through when you hit them (happened on a straight boost with me)

    2-There is no gravity at all. Check this video (Made by me :3) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGmwzs7kVQw

  24. ShadowofPain Sunday 26th Sep 2010 at 14:00

    2-There is no gravity at all. Check this video (Made by me :3) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGmwzs7kVQw

    I fail to see how that is a bug. Surely if you're going around at over 300 mph you would still be able to go through the pipe? If you stopped moving and it just stayed then I might have been more convinced.

  25. LaytonMario3 Sunday 26th Sep 2010 at 14:27

    PeaceGirl wrote:
    I love the DS version and really want to get this. I'm annoyed that they hyped it all up in previews and now they are saying it's too hard. Whats wrong with a bit of hard...maybe they are used to race games being easy like Mario Kart.


    Mario kart is NOT easy. Once you finish 100cc on any game it gets really tough. And the first one's hard throughout...
    _________________

    How is Mario kart wii not easy, i completed within a month of getting it, and that was with my sister begging me to go on wii sports resort everytime she was in the house

    Mario kart wii can be brutal occasionaly

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