Trackmania is pure racing. Fast, challenging, and rewarding. The game doesn’t waste any time, throwing track after track at you, hundreds of them. This is what makes the game unique, it lets you experience the thrill of mastering a new track over and over again. The races aren’t against real opponents, you’re racing against set times from ghost cars you can drive right through. The only physical thing you’re racing against in this game is the track. There’s 6 different types of track environments, all full of ridiculous paths, loops and jumps.
Momentum is very important, scrape one wall and you’ll lose a lot of time, and not just that but it might mean the difference between making a jump and plunging into nowhere. You can still drive around in the middle of nowhere, but a quick press of the – button and the race restarts instantly with no loading at all except for 3-2-1; the quick retry nature of Trackmania helps make it so addictive. Stringing a perfect lap together can be tough: there might be a particular hard corner that you keep stuffing up, or multiple twisty parts that are hard to get right, but once everything falls into place the feeling is immense satisfaction not many racers can match.
The controls are fantastic, the Wii Wheel motion is spot on and it’s very smooth and easy to make small adjustments. There’s multiple controller options but I haven’t had any need to try them. The graphics are as fast and smooth as the controls, there’s not much eye candy and fancy effects, but they’ve nailed the sense of speed, and the frame rate is solid. Driving in first person view at 500kph is an experience. The music is catchy and uplifting which is exactly how you need to feel when tackling a track for the 50th time.
Another strong point of the game is the ridiculous amount of content. There’s free DLC with new tracks to download, and if that’s not enough you can make your own with the robust track editor and share them online. There’s multiplayer, both offline and online, and worldwide leaderboards with the best times for every track, all with the option of downloading legit ghosts to challenge.
Overall it’s a very solid experience and one of the best racers you can buy. Firebrand have done a great job bringing Trackmania to Wii and I look forward to more console efforts from them. Perhaps Nintendo should let them have a crack at F-Zero?