I am not a fan of driving games, but TrackMania Nations really has me hooked.
Just to start, there is a full version of this game, called Trackmania United, which features more enviroments and cars, but i’m sticking to Nations forever
Trackmania Nations Forever is a competitive driving game, based mostly online. Due to being online you will obviously need internet access to get the most out of the game. The online side of the game is based on a ‘ladder’ format, where you get a certain amount of points for where you finish, based on your world rank compared to who you beat world ranks. This gives everyone in the game something to aim for, and also a challenge if they wish to pursue it.
In game, all the cars are indentical, in acceleration, top speed, breaks etc, and so all driving skill is down to the driver and not buffing up your car with crazy engine add ons. This is nice as it keeps the game fair as well as very competitive which is great for online players. You can download different skins off Trackmania Carpark (google it), from awesome looking car skins to the road runner.
When driving, there are several different types of track/map you can drive. All of the maps have a majority of the same track parts, they just hav to be driven differently to get the fastest time possible. For example, fullspeed track contains loads of loops and speed boosts, unlike a tech track which can still have speed boosts, but much more ‘tech’nical turns, and complex turning sequences. Different types of track appeal to different people, so which ever type of track you enjoy driving the most you should drive, or you could build one. Yep you heard me.
TMN comes with a built in track builder, which allows you to design any track your imagination can come up with. The best part is that after you completed your beloved track, you can upload it online and people can use it on their servers, for everyone else to drive online
Trackbuilding in TMN has a very nice layout, with all the different parts of track put into different sections so you can find the parts of the track you want easily. Another nice feature of the builder is that you actually build the track in the stadium that you’re going to drive in. This gives you a nice idea of the size of the track you’re making, as well as how it’s going to look to the people who are going to drive it. You can also set the time of day, and to change the lighting your track recieves as well as many other neat little options.
Graphics are a big thing to most gamers (i prefer gameplay over graphics, call me old school), so modern games have to have fine details linked with smooth gameplay. And i’m pretty sure Trackmania delivers with ease. To start off, the enviroment in which TM is staged is simple, yet has smooth shadow and blur effects, and well as very stand out colours. This helps the fast pace of the game integrate with the enviroment, with colours zooming past your eyes as well as you trying to concetrate on driving the track as well as you can. The water and grass effects are also nice, with induvidual blades of grass and realistic water effects, which you can skim your car on if you’re going fast enough (this effect is even used in some tracks).
For TM gameplay, there are several modes which you drive in, which gives added replayability also. The most common mode is time attack, in which you are given a certain amount of time (normally 5:00) to drive the fastest time you can on a certain track. This is a less pressured game mode as you aren’t pressured to drive consistently. The more pressured game mode is rounds, where you get one chance to drive one lap. The lap then resets after everyone has either finished, reset or left/gone to spectator, and you can try again next lap. This is commonly used during competitions between clans, as you need to be a much more consistent and a better drive to able to compete.
The controls in TM are generic driving controls, with the arrow keys used for direction. However, if you plan to drive as fast as you can, it is a lot more effective to move your break to left ctrl. This allows for easier power drifting (accelerating and breaking at the same time), which allows for much faster driving. You can also use a console for driving, such as a 360 controller, which allows for a finer degree for turning, which also allows you to drive faster (however the transition from driving with a keyboard to driving with a ‘pad’ takes a lot of time, be warned!).
Overall, Trackmania Nations Forever is a very fun game to play, from the people you meet online, to the intense races that you loose out on by 0.01 of a second (that can be frustrating). Trackmania is a game of drifting at the right moments (apart from fullspeed tracks xD), and so requires a hell of a lot of skill, as well as focus and training. Well up their with my favourite games of all time. TM forever.