TrackMania 2 Review

By Adam Ames

PC gamers have seen a surge of high quality racing titles over the last few years and TrackMania 2: Canyon successfully continues this trend.  While you will not find any gearhead-like tweaks or hardcore simulations, what you do get is a downright fun and sometimes frustratingly addictive good time.

PC gamers have seen a surge of high quality racing titles over the last few years and TrackMania 2: Canyon successfully continues this trend.  While you will not find any gearhead-like tweaks or hardcore simulations, what you do get is a downright fun and sometimes frustratingly addictive good time.

Kick The Tires And Light The Fires

The gameplay for TrackMania 2, like pretty much all racing games, is straight forward: go faster than the other guy.  However, instead of racing on a normal race track, you are presented layouts which range from the outlandish to the ludicrously insane.  In addition, TrackMania 2 is chock full of acceleration power-ups, crazy jumps and more sharp turns than Lombard Street in San Francisco.

In Solo Mode, you are given three track times to beat.  Each of these times are connected to the standard Gold, Silver and Bronze finishes.  Once you beat a time, you are asked if you want to attempt to defeat the next time and so on.  With a total of 65 unique tracks spread over five color designated difficulty levels, there is plenty of fun to be had.  A nice touch is once you achieve the Gold medal standing on any Solo track you have the option to race for an “official time” which, if good enough, will be uploaded to the TrackMania servers and posted for the world to see.

Due to the nature of the game, you are never in danger of hitting other vehicles.  The only time you take damage is when you hit obstacles or drive off the track.   You will see “ghosts” or representations of either your best time or your opponent.  For example, think of playing Mario Kart solo, trying to secure the best time on each track.
The handling of the cars is TrackMania 2 has been given some love in relation to other entries in the series.  The cars feel tighter and more responsive in all aspects which means greater control for those sharp S-curves.

Technically Speaking

In a time when most developers rely on default Windows save file locations, Nadeo decided to put that decision in the hands of the user.  You are no longer faced with rummaging around in My Games, My Documents, AppData or other obscure folders.  You have full control over where your TrackMania 2 Personal and Data information is stored.  During the installation process, simply select Custom Install and you will be prompted to create folders for your TrackMania 2 install. The only caveat to this is you may not have the Data and Personal folders located in the main TrackMania 2 directory.

You can use the arrow keys in an attempt to drive your car, but the experience will greatly improve using a gamepad.  With a Logitech F310 plugged in, the game automatically mapped the left analog stick to steer, X to accelerate and A to break.  The start button will also restart your current race which, at first, you will be doing quite a bit.

While playing in Solo Mode, TrackMania 2 does not fill up your field of view with useless on-screen indicators and annoying visual effects.  You do see your speed, time elapsed, the track you are racing and the Gold Medal time, but this is done in such a way that the information is shifted to the far ends of your screen (save your lap time which is the bottom middle).  This allows for a nice, clean view of the track.  Other PC racing developers can learn something from allowing for a non-intrusive HUD.


The Canyon At Night Is A Racer’s Delight

TrackMania 2 is stunning to look at.  The setting surrounding the Canyon creates an atmosphere in which you truly believe you are racing in and around canyon-like terrain.  Damage detail has also been upgraded and shows off what can happen to your ride when you jump from one side of a dam to the other and miss.  The car models are also meticulously detailed in every way and react to the environment.  For example, when you drive off the track onto dirt, you will begin to see a layer of brown grime on the bumper and around the wheels.

The night races are especially pretty.  There is something captivating about light reflections bouncing off the cars, nicely detailed shadows, and the added danger of not totally being able to see what is ahead of you.

Taking On The World…..Or At Least Utah

The major selling point for the TrackMania series has always been its multiplayer component and this aspect does not disappoint.

Jumping into a multiplayer match is simple:  pick your country and join the preferred server.  If you want to narrow things down even more, you have the ability to play in your state or other local regional areas.  LAN play is also a nice feature given the fact that most PC developers nowadays have abandoned this crucial online aspect of PC gaming.

While there were a decent number of servers based in the US, the most available were located in Germany and France which did cause problems due to a poor wireless connection and high ping times.

The overall multiplayer experience was good enough.  There were some racers willing to give out tips and help newbies.  Yes, amazingly enough, there are still individuals playing online that will actually go out of their way to assist those who are unfamiliar with the aspects of a newly released game.

Hot Wheels For Grown-Ups

If you were into racing as a kid during the 80s and 90s, you know how much fun can be had building tracks and racing your Hot Wheels or Matchbox cars.  In TrackMania 2, you have free reign over the ability to create the track of your dreams.  The same holds true for customizing the look of your car.  You can also share your creations with friends to let them try their hand on your track.

The downside is the lack of in-game tutorials or help of any kind.  It was as if somebody were to come up to you presenting an old motor with a chest full of tools and wanting the engine rebuilt without uttering a word.

Conclusion – Is It Worth Your Money?

One of the greatest things about TrackMania 2 is you can play for just a few minutes or end up playing for a few hours.  With the amount of replayability TrackMania 2 has to offer in terms of track creation, online modding community and multiplayer matches, it is absolutely worth your $24.99.  Not only is TrackMania 2 recommended for veteran and newcomers alike, some hardcore PC racers just might find some fun in the Canyon as well.

TrackMania 2 Technical Summary:

  • Time Played – 6 Hours
  • Widescreen Support – Yes (Detailed Report via WSGF)
  • 5.1 Audio – Yes
  • Bugs – None
  • DRM – Online Keycode Activation (Can play Solo Mode offline)
  • Control Scheme – Keyboard or Gamepad
  • Game Acquisition Method – Review Copy
  • PC Specs – 3Ghz Core 2 Duo, GTX 460, 4GB RAM, 1920×1080
  • Availability – Official TM2 Site

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7 thoughts on “TrackMania 2 Review

  1. The customize tick box only leaves options greyed out when you have a Preset selected – unselect your preset quality setting and try again.

  2. Excellent review although more info on MP would have been nice. I love to see more technical PC reviews instead of the corporate nonsense that is around.

    • Well I believe other than track record comparison, MP is strictly just seeing other players on the track with no negative or positive effect. You can collide with them or anything.

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