(Wii)

TrackMania (Wii)

Game Review

TrackMania Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Marcel van Duyn

Spectrackular

Mention the name TrackMania to any console gamer and barely anyone will know what you're talking about. Mention it to hardcore PC gamers, however, and there's a good chance they'll regale you with stories of what is perhaps the best racing series out there.

For those unfamiliar with the series, it's not really a pure "racing" game: you don't actually race against any other vehicles which you can physically interact with. It's more like the Time Trial mode in Mario Kart turned into a fully-fledged game, with a huge number of tracks and several staff ghosts to beat on every one.

It's also not all too serious in terms of tracks. You won't find any boring, flat, simple courses here, as every single one is filled to the brim with ramps, drop-offs, speed boosters, water hazards, half-pipes and even complete loop-de-loops. It's not so much a racing game as it is a platforming game in which you control a car, and it takes serious skill to finish certain tracks without ever resetting at a checkpoint.

Although fans of the PC titles will know that the series has had seven different environments to play in throughout its life, only six of them, Stadium, Island, Desert, Snow, Rally and Coast, are present in the Wii game, with the only one missing being the Bay area. The environments do not just offer different visuals: in each one you control a different car that controls completely unlike the previous ones, with the track layouts generally being adjusted to suit that car's handling as well.

For example, in the most well-known environment, Stadium, you control a good old Formula 1 car, which turns fairly slowly but otherwise handles very solidly and has a high top speed. As such, you can expect relatively wide tracks and a ton of jumps and loops. The Coast area on the other hand features a big, bulky Roadster that doesn't have a high top speed and tends to slip very easily when turning. To accommodate, the tricks present on its tracks are usually limited to holes in the road and small jumps, but as the road is very narrow you'll have to manage your speed and turning perfectly.

In all of the game's modes, the most basic objective is to simply reach the finish line. However, you can't just launch over the side of certain tracks and land right next to the goal as there are also numerous checkpoints to drive through in order before the game will allow you to finish.

As you might expect from a Wii racing game, there are several control schemes you can choose to use. The recommended way is to simply use your Wii Remote sideways or your Remote and Nunchuk, but if you simply love motion control, you can also opt to use your Remote on its own as a steering wheel.

The main single player game, Race, is divided into five difficulty tiers, with each one naturally getting increasingly harder. Each environment has five tracks on each of the first four difficulty levels, making for 120 tracks total. The last difficulty, the very appropriately titled Extreme, only has one track for each environment, but they will take you a long time to beat. If you manage to perform well enough on all of these, you'll unlock 5 more tracks in each environment on a "Bonus" difficulty level.

The basic goal on each of these tracks is to beat one (Bronze), two (Silver), or three (Gold) staff ghosts, each increasingly better than the previous one. For each ghost you manage to beat, you'll get the corresponding medal. By getting medals, you'll eventually unlock the higher difficulty levels, items for purchase in the game's store (like car skins and track editor parts), points to spend on those items and achievements.

But that's actually not all. As you'll eventually find out, each track actually has a fourth ghost, which will award an Author Medal when beaten. These final ghosts generally do not mess around in the slightest, so in most cases you'll have to be extremely good to beat them, thus usually making it best to continue to the next track after getting gold, but more unlocks and points await if you manage to beat them.

When you've had enough of the Race mode, there are two additional, much shorter single-player modes available as well. The Puzzle mode gives you a series of incomplete circuits – you get to put down the missing tracks, ramps, speed boosters and what-not, then drive on your creation and, again, try to beat the staff ghosts. Once you figure out the best way to place all available objects, getting gold is usually easy on these, but it's certainly easier said than done.

Platform Mode gives you a number of fairly hard tracks with absolutely no ghosts at all. The objective in these is simply to reach the finish line with the fewest falls and flips possible. Gold is awarded for reaching the end with no resets, a mighty feat indeed.

If that's still not enough for you, the game also allows you to create your very own entire tracks without having to worry about anything. The available space for self-made levels is quite considerable: they won't reach the size of the largest official tracks, but they can get pretty close.

You can create levels for any of the game's six environments, but you won't really be able to do anything special when you first boot up the game as you'll have to unlock and purchase additional parts from the store first. After making your ultimate creation, you'll get to test drive it, with whatever time you set becoming the Author Medal time, with the other three being automatically generated based on that performance.

But of course, a racing game, even an unusual one like this, would not be complete without a multiplayer mode. With support for up to six players online (and up to four players offline), it doesn't quite reach the hecticness of the 50+ player PC games, but it can still be good fun to race against other people. The setup for multiplayer is pretty simple: you'll go through as many tracks as there are players, with each player picking one track, and you'll get about three minutes to set the best possible time you can. Whoever has the best time out of all players will rake in the points at the end of the race.

At the moment, however, we found that finding opponents is pretty slow, even at what would be considered peak hours for other games. Thankfully, you can play with friends as well, and then you'll even be able to play on tracks you've made yourself, instead of being limited to the official ones.

Also available in the Wi-Fi menu is some good old DLC. You don't have to pay for any of it either: the developers will periodically upload new official tracks, with eight of them being available at the time of writing. Unfortunately, your best time on these will not be saved unless you save your ghost as well, but unlike the game's standard tracks, this must be done by overwriting one of the three accompanied staff ghosts.

Graphics-wise, the game looks pretty much exactly like the older title, and if you've previous entries you'll recognise each of the environments within a split second. Even when an entire large track is visible, there's no noticeable slowdown, which is quite an impressive achievement.

Sadly, the developers chose not to bring over any of the well-known music from previous games, opting instead to create completely new songs. They're actually not bad at all, but they're nowhere near as catchy as the old music. They're also much shorter, generally clocking in at maybe two minutes before looping, rather than five or six. However, to make up for this, there's two different songs for each environment, which at least brings some variety to the table.

Conclusion

After a somewhat lacking attempt at a DS instalment of TrackMania, the franchise has now more than successfully been brought to the Wii. While the multiplayer has lost a considerable amount of its magic due to the much lower number of max players, everything else has been very well done: with over 150 tracks and the ability to create your own, achievements, and online multiplayer with up to five others, it captures the feeling of TrackMania perfectly, and will hopefully gain a completely new fan following.

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User Comments (42)

Oregano

#5

Oregano said:

I shall have this game soon and I look forward to racing some people.

CanisWolfred

#6

CanisWolfred said:

It is indeed a good game. One of the better racers on a platform utterly devoid of good racing games. I still prefer GRID for its more realistic look and feel, however.

EDIT: ...am I mistaking this for some other game? Apparently it's not coming out until December 2010!
Indeed I am, heck this is the Wii version of a game I've never played. I'm thinking of Race Driver.:P They're all made by the same developers, though. I probably won't look into it. GRID and Racer Driver were enough handheld racing for me, and I don't want to get a racer on the Wii unless it startes with F and ends with Zero.

Luigi_Vercotti

#7

Luigi_Vercotti said:

I really liked Trackmania Nations and Trackmania Sunrise on the PC. So I guess I will have to get this as an early christmas present for myself.

irken004

#8

irken004 said:

Sounds good, I played some Trackmania Nations Forever on Steam, and it's quite fun.

pixelman

#10

pixelman said:

I'm reeeeeally excited for this. Looks like a good racer to replace Excitebots, which I'm rather burnt out on after 40-odd hours of play, haha. :3

@James: I assume you're the nefarious mastermind behind the misspelling of "colors" in the Kirby review too, aren't you? :P

Pahvi

#12

Pahvi said:

Am I mistaken or is the 'banner' pic at the top of the page from the Bay area which was cut from the Wii game, right? If so, it feels a bit off, that's all.

Rensch

#15

Rensch said:

Cool, but I don't see the point in spending like €40,00 on it while I can grab the PC version for a few bucks.

Deviant_Mugen

#16

Deviant_Mugen said:

I'd never heard of this series before, but it sounds good. I'm interested enough to maybe give this game a rental when it releases...

Great review, Marcel (terrible pun, James :P)...

Chris720

#17

Chris720 said:

WOAH! I thought this was already reviewed. XD

Bad pun, good review, awesome game. =p

Emme3

#19

Emme3 said:

Got it and love it (but I'm a TM series fan :P )! A great racing game and nearly as addictive as the PC version! BTW hilarious pun James!

Chris720

#21

Chris720 said:

"We use British English here" well said James. :P

I should be gettin' mah money tomorrow, so hopefully TrackMania will be all mine!! (insert evil laugh here)

I agree completely, Shiryu, the Wii definitely needs more 'good' racing games, they're so few and far between...

Gamesake

#22

Gamesake said:

I say lads, this racing game looks smashing, but I'm manic over how long I've been waiting for it. Now I'm more snashter on Need for Speed:Hot Pursuit. I don't know if it'll be online but I'm sure playing it will be just as fun on my billy tod.

Egg_miester

#23

Egg_miester said:

its a shame that this game keeps getting pushed back a month for 2 months i gave up on it

Machu

#25

Machu said:

Was holding off on this till I got a proper connection, but being a massive TM fan (5/6yrs under the belt), this review has convinced me to buy it tomorrow. Thanks! :)

/me hugs apex

MakeMyBiscuit

#27

MakeMyBiscuit said:

Fantastic!

Thank you sooo much for this review. I have been waiting for a review on this game ever since I found out it was coming to the Wii.

I loved the PC version but I could not wait for the game to come to the consoles so I could actually play the game on something other than a keyboard.

How well does the Wii Wheel work?

I am glad there is online support.

As someone said before, the Wii needs more games like this.

This is a must buy!

Slapshot

#28

Slapshot said:

I have the Free version and it works just fine with a PC controller. Im good with that ;)

NeoRausch

#30

NeoRausch said:

Yeeehaaa! Totally buying this!...but...did you just not mention it or is there really no Classic Controller-Support? please tell me you just forgot to type it in!

@Machu: you're still struggeling with your connection?!?! man, it's been months since MH Tri! Anyway, when you are ready and set tell me, we gotta race against each other!

JimLad

#31

JimLad said:

Cooooool! I love arcade racers, and I thought the DS version was pretty awesome actually.
The real challenge is getting my friends to play it. (They're not really racing game fans)

MerlinDrazziw

#32

MerlinDrazziw said:

Great review on a great game :)

@Rensch: it's only €30,- without the extra wheel
@MakeMyBiscuit: I've tried the Wii Wheel, but it's pretty sensitive. Maybe if you're skilled with using the wheel, you'll be able to get medals. But I just stick with the nunchuck combo.

LEGEND_MARIOID

#33

LEGEND_MARIOID said:

Used to have the older ds version. Decent but not my kinda think. This game gets too hardcore (surprisingly) too quickly

LuWiiGi

#35

LuWiiGi said:

Not really my kind of racing game. Might get it one day when the price is low, but I doubt it.

THENAMESNORM

#36

THENAMESNORM said:

I went around 4 different shopping centres today looking for this game and nowhere had it! So I ordered it from amazon.co.uk for under £20!!! Deal and a half!! Can't wait for it to come through!

THENAMESNORM

#37

THENAMESNORM said:

Well my game arrived around 25 mins ago, and so far I've had time to read the instructions(i NEVER do that!) and win gold on the first 12 stages in race mode with the classic controller(had to replay 5 or 6 races to win gold) so far with only one game mode played Im really impressed!

Anyone in the UK on the fence about this game - don't be! Go to amazon.co.uk and you can get it for less than £20! You won't regret it!

Kalifornia_Jani

#38

Kalifornia_Jani said:

Great game, i highly recommend this!! I've never played trackmania before this and now im hooked. Better than excite truck in my opinion

Pahvi

#39

Pahvi said:

I bought it not long ago since Trackmania United didn't work on my PC any longer. So far it's been quite OK. I'm a bit disappointed in how the track names are given -- "Stadium A5"? "IslandC3"? I find that just plain lazy and boring.

Mange

#40

Mange said:

I find it an impressive achievement the reviewer not notecing any noticeable slowdown... wich of, there is! Not enough to spoil the fun though. Get it, it´s great.

MattTaylor

#41

MattTaylor said:

I was totally new to the Trackmania experience before playing this Wii installment and I am very impressed with the 'perfect racing line' mechanic, very original, very fresh, and very bloody frustrating. Oh go on then, just one more try. Possibly the greatest 1st party Nintendo racer, Nintendo never made. Brilliant

IAmChristinaAguilera

#42

IAmChristinaAguilera said:

Is this finally out in NA now? I actually love the freeware Windows version. I usually hate playing anything online because it's usually 1-on-1 and people that play the games a lot more than I do always wind up destroying me, but Trackmania has given me some of the most enjoyable online experiences I've ever had. That the cars don't collide with one another is a big chunk of that, it seems like there's always a big mutual community feeling of "Man! Can you believe the holes on this track?" or "Wow, how did you figure out the physics puzzle to getting through to finish this one?" where everyone is kind of getting through the same challenges, and maybe THIS time, YOU'LL be the one who hits the curves JUST RIGHT to finish first... It's really cool getting to spontaneously interact with a ton of people from different countries at the same time, too.

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