Restart. Restart again. And again.
Patience is a key if you want to properly play and enjoy TrackMania Turbo. If you take a single look at it, you’d think it’s a regular arcade racer with some seriously bizarre track design, but this is no regular racer. There are no stats to tweak, no parts to buy for your car- no, you get a single vehicle for a set of tracks and are told to make your way through them with the help of nothing but pure skill- of which you probably won’t have a lot to begin with.
Fans of the TrackMania series are probably already familiar with this feeling- the bulk of your time playing Turbo will be spent going back to older courses, or restarting the same course over and over again, all in an effort to shave off just a few more seconds or points in a race. The slightest of drifts, the softest of turns, the smallest of jumps are integral to how well you perform in a race, and the ultra-responsive controls of TrackMania Turbo make sure that you have complete control over every inch of your vehicle’s movement.
"The slightest of drifts, the softest of turns, the smallest of jumps are integral to how well you perform in a race, and the ultra-responsive controls of TrackMania Turbo make sure that you have complete control over every inch of your vehicle’s movement."
So while it’s a boon for you as a player in that you have absolute control over your car and can rely completely on your skill, it’s also a bane, because if you get timing of a tiny drift wrong, or if you’re unable to align a jump properly, it’ll spell failure for you. And it’ll be time for you to restart the course and try again.
There are 200 levels in total in TrackMania Turbo, with the tracks being divided in groups of colours in accordance with their difficulty levels- White, Green, Blue, Red, and Black, with White being the easiest and Black being the toughest. There are four different environments- the desert-like Canyon Grand, which puts all the focus on drifting; the mountainous Valley Down and Dirty, which sees you jumping off ramps a lot; Lagoon Rollercoaster, which is all about precise handling in extreme tracks; and International Stadium, which is like your regular F1 track. All environments demand a different kind of driving style, with things like drifts, handling and jumps being affected by each of them.
There’s a wealth of content here, even if you only restrict yourself to playing just the tracks by yourself (though there’s much more to do even outside of that), and it makes for great variety when you have to alter your driving style to suit the needs of the tracks. It also helps that the track design is generally top notch (my favourites mostly feature in the Lagoon Rollercoaster environments). But this plethora of options becomes somewhat restricted due to the way the game is structured.
"There’s a wealth of content here, even if you only restrict yourself to playing just the tracks by yourself"
In previous TrackMania games, you could not tackle the Black level tracks unless you had a Gold medal in all previous tracks (which is easier said than done). Turbo takes that one step further- when you start off, you can only play the White tracks, and cannot move on to Green unless until you beat all levels in the area, and this carries forward to all the successive areas, and each of them demands better scores (medals) for further unlocks. It’s a little disappointing that you don’t get the freedom of choice to play through all the levels from the get go. To be fair, though, the game does make concessions in that if you beat a level with lower medals a number of times, you’re allowed to move forward, but it feels like a forced curb nonetheless.
Outside of the 200 levels, there’s a lot more here to keep your attention. First off, there’s the track editor, which is one of my favourite features. It’s nothing new, of course, but the flexibility in terms of how accessible it is is great. You can make anything from the simplest of levels to maddening death traps, and it can all be done with great ease. If you’re feeling too lazy and want to try a completely new track, you can tell the game to make one by itself and then test your driving skills in it. It’s probably not going to be a feature that you spend hours and hours on, but it’s a great distraction if you ever become a little exhausted with the driving side of the game.
"The real star is a mode called Double Driver, which is as insane as it is surprisingly fun."
On the local multiplayer side, developers Nadeo have included several modes, including your regular one-on-one split-screen races, but the real star is a mode called Double Driver, which is as insane as it is surprisingly fun. It puts two drivers in the same car, with each of them having exactly the same amount of control over it. So, say, if you decide to go left and your friend decides to go right, the car goes straight. It’s insane, it’s chaotic, and it’ll make you work in perfect synchronization with your co-op buddy if you want to succeed.
All of which is to say that if you’re looking for a ton of content in a well-made game, you’re not going to be disappointed with TrackMania Turbo. Its difficulty levels can be maddening at times, but they’re what make the game what it is. Incredible track design, responsive controls and a great deal of stuff to do both on the track and off it make Turbo an engaging experience, one that fans of the arcade racing genre shouldn’t miss out on.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 4.
Plethora of content; Well design tracks; Track editor is addictive and accessible; Double Driver mode is chaotically beautiful; Responsive controls.
Restricted access to tracks; A few glitches here and there.
TrackMania Turbo is a game that will make you want to bash your head against a wall- and you will love it for that.