Sunday, December 15, 2013

TrackMania Series

John Marine | 9:27 PM | |
French developer NADEO created TrackMania starting in 2004. This unique racing game series allows gamers to create their own tracks by using a comprehensive grid system. Almost any track you can dream of can be made using the game's many tools. It can also be a puzzle game... sort of. No matter what the case, there is something for almost any racing gamer- or any gamer in general can enjoy. This blog post is a general look at the TrackMania series and what has made it so successful.

About the Label: "TrackMania"

Blog posts under the "TrackMania" label relate to NADEO's successful TrackMania series. Posts relate to this series and the individual games that make up this series.





--- TrackMania Series in General ---

TrackMania games are noted for bringing a variety of racing action to gamers. This is no ordinary racing game- you can make modest racing courses, or you can jazz things up and add things like jumps, loops, turbo pads, and more. The only limit to what you can create is your imagination. Your head will spin simply thinking about how you can make that sort of course of your dreams using what is available.

For me, I liken TrackMania in track creation to a 1990 PC racing game called Stunts (also called "4D Sports Driving"). Both games feature a grid-based system for which to build tracks. Both games even feature a handful of stunt driving elements to make racing more interesting. The base games offer the most amazing racing experiences out of the box. Later titles have featured expansion packs that offer even more insane action with some new tiles and even some new game modes.

This is now a simple look at the individual elements that make up TrackMania:


Cars.

There are no licensed cars or real cars featured in any TrackMania. However, you will find a number of vehicles made by the PC modding community that can be downloaded and added to the car lineup. The cars you race are unique to each environment. So no matter what kind of vehicle you use, the handling model and performance characteristics remain constant. The handling model is purely arcade. Don't worry about precise handling or realistic physics. Cars can't be tuned. So don't worry about modifying cars to be better either. What you CAN modify, however, are the different paintschemes for your car. You can paint up your car and dress it up with decals and other things. Save your creations or even download various other creations made by the modding community. One last note- the speeds in this game are ONLY in kilometers per hour (KPH), and you can't change over to MPH.

Speaking of environments...


Locations.

Each TrackMania location features a unique environment. They are all distinctive in their own way and are different from one another. You are able to create any number of tracks utilizing each environment's unique set of tiles. The best way to enjoy racing these locations is to take advantage of each car's capabilities and tailor courses to suit each car. Created tracks can be set in one of four time settings: Morning, Day, Sunset, and Night. Pick the time of day wisely because you won't be able to change the time of day once you create such a track. You will be unable to (for example) change one existing track's setting from Day to Night.


Racing.

You are left with a number of options here. The majority of racing you will do in this game will take place mostly on open circuits. There also isn't much "racing" in this game. You are essentially doing time trials. What you are basically racing against are ghosts that have taken their tour of each track. All you are trying to accomplish is to beat the best times. There are no collision dynamics if you try to do any real racing against any of the other cars on track.

Just create a track with any number of checkpoints along with a Start/Finish line or a Start gate and a Finish gate. Some locations are more for platforming or performing stunts. Or if you want a unique challenge, try solving a puzzle by placing certain tiles to complete a course; then try to complete that race. You will win medals for clearing certain events as fast as you can. You will win all medals if you even beat the author's best time for any given course! If you manage to screw up, you have the option of respawning your car from the last checkpoint you cleared. Or if you haven't cleared a checkpoint, the race will simply restart.

Here is a look at the many options available to you. Not all TrackMania games have each of these modes:

• Race: Open - Gamers can create point-to-point tracks utilizing the game's many tiles for track creation. Make a mild course all about speed or handling, or be sure to add some jumps and stunts to make things interesting. It's your call- just make sure to set a beginning and an end to the course.

• Race: Multilap - You can make a closed circuit by setting up a Start/Finish line and making a complete loop flanked by checkpoints. Rather than individual laps counting, you have to run a consistent race all race long. Your best time will be based on the total time to complete the multi-lap race rather than trying to score the fastest lap. The quicker, the better (obviously).

• Platform - In a Platform race, your goal is to complete a series of insane stunts without having to restart. You will obviously win Gold if you manage to clear the entire event without needing to restart. Silver and bronze can still be obtained if you don't make too many mistakes. These can be very scary, yet very rewarding to accomplish.

• Stunt - With only a set amount of time, gain as many points as you can by performing various stunts. Just make sure to cross the finish line before time runs out! If you don't cross the finish line, you will gradually lose points until you eventually cross the finish line. So make those stunts and cross the line in time!

• Puzzle - It is peculiar for a racing game to have a Puzzle Mode. In Puzzle Mode, you are given an incomplete race track. Your goal is to complete the track using the given tiles available to you. Once you complete the course, you must then try and race to the finish in the quickest time possible. Don't worry if you fail to complete the course quick enough- you can always adjust everything to where you eventually can try a different strategy or complete the course faster.

• Crazy - You are racing against multiple ghost cars on one course. Try to score faster lap times than the other ghosts while not exceeding a certain time limit. Can you go faster than everybody else?


Music.

Most of the music done in this game is done by a French musician known as Doo. The music is mostly a collection of various genres, but mostly in the realm of electronic dance music, and mostly in the realm of house. And in case you didn't know- French do House music VERY well. Just ask Daft Punk. Other artists and groups have chimed in to lend their sounds, such as Jason Alner, Mike Myler, Zsolt Marx, and more.


Now that you have a general idea of what TrackMania brings, it is now time to look at some of the individual games that make up this series.



--- TrackMania Series: The Games ---

TrackMania United Forever
^ from: www.amazon.com - TrackMania United Forever features every car and environment among the classic environments.

I may not feature every game in the series, but I will at least cover most of the titles. Some of these games featured here MAY show up in future individual blog posts.


TrackMania (2003).

The first TrackMania featured three courses: Desert, Rally, and Snow. I have personally never played the first TrackMania. What you are going to see from me here will be very limited:

• Desert - Go for a high-speed romp through the desert. The environment features many roads as well as industrial sections. The car you use is called the American. This car boasts incredible acceleration and has fairly okay handling.

• Rally - In a distinctively European landscape, take your rally car around a bunch of gravel and dirt stages. The car you use is a rally car that resemble the Renault 5 Maxi Turbo has amazing acceleration and is very nimble. Take advantage of this car's capabilities to clear the various courses set up in this environment. You can race through forests, villages, and more.

• Snow - Take your mini pickup truck for a ride around a snowy mountain setting. The setting is somewhat inspired by some of the mountainous terrain of Nepal and has Chinese-style buildings and structures. You'll be driving on snowy roads, wooden roads, and even drive on ice. It will not be easy trying to drive these stages.


TrackMania Sunrise (2005).

TrackMania Sunrise brought about three new driving experiences and three new kinds of cars to use. The game's currency system, called Coppers, limited how much you could create for your new tracks. This system was also useful for PCs that couldn't handle the stress of very complex courses, setting a limit to how much one can input. Gamers could earn more Coppers by successfully completing various races in the game.

• Island - Almost any car fan dreams of having the open road and going full speed through it. This environment is a prime example of enjoying high-speed thrills with an amazingly fast car. This exotic sports car highly resembles the Ferrari Enzo Ferrari. It goes very fast. The Island environment features city buildings, tunnels, highways, and more. The TrackMania Sunrise eXtreme package includes things like a space station, airplane hangars, and more.

• Coast - The Coast environment features a driving setting more catered towards simulation racers. The environment itself is a rally racing environment complete with some lovely Old World buildings and some country roads. You can drive through some beautiful villages and even some weird highways. While this environment may lack any high-speed thrills, the environment more than makes up for it with a car which resembles the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren. The driving dynamics make for opportunities to drift the car into the corners. In addition to rally-style courses, the Coast environment also includes tiles you can use to make a proper racing circuit. So you have some options if you want to create any sort of racing course in this environment.

• Bay - This urban locale is vastly inspired by Hong Kong. Courses under this environment are romps through the city. You are given a sport-utility vehicle (SUV) to do your stunts and racing in this environment. Meet your mount for this environment- a performance SUV meant to take on this urban jungle. The TrackMania Sunrise eXtreme package features many more tiles to use, including seaport cargo boxes among other environmental touches.

I had the demo to TrackMania Sunrise before eventually buying the full game.


TrackMania Nations (2006).

As a World Championship of racing, TrackMania Nations was key in making such action possible. To my knowledge, TrackMania Nations is still the only free TrackMania game. In fact, my first TrackMania was TrackMania Nations. TrackMania Nations features only one environment and one car. You race around the Stadium environment. This environment allows you race on these futuristic roads. To be honest, this environment doesn't offer too much to be very artistic and creative with different kinds of natural terrain touches. The Stadium car is more like NADEO's answer to the former A1GP series. It is a nimble car with great top speed.

The premise of TrackMania Nations was to allow for a world of competition to compete on any number of tracks as part of the Electronic Sports World Cup (ESWC). The single car you use features a number of paint schemes representing a host of nations and territories. Some 70 or so countries and territories are represented. In addition, there are brief hymns of each represented nation that are played. So you can hear this more electronic dance-style hymn of the represented nations national anthems. A future package called TrackMania Nations Forever added new blocks. You could now add some more scenery and even race on dirt roads in the Stadium environment. Plus, you could race in any time of day- including Morning, Day, Sunset, and Night.


TrackMania United and TrackMania United Forever (2008).

It was in 2006 that all of the classic TrackMania venues and cars would all be part of one big package offering the most enhanced experience any TrackMania fan can enjoy. It would all be included in a package called "TrackMania United." It features all seven environments and all seven cars. The version I got was TrackMania United Forever, and it includes every single tile including the different tiles from the enhanced packages of each game.


TrackMania DS/TrackMania Turbo (2009).

Nintendo DS owners could enjoy the thrills of TrackMania on their Nintendo DS with TrackMania DS- also called "TrackMania Turbo." This version of TrackMania was the first one made by Firebrand Games, not NADEO. It only features the Rally, Desert, and Stadium environments.


TrackMania Wii: Build to Race (2011).

The Nintendo Wii got TrackMania loving as well. While it was supposed to be released much sooner than its eventual 2011 release, this TrackMania offers every classic environment, excluding Bay. The free range of motion using the Wii lends itself to a good deal of customization and control in making courses.


TrackMania 2 Series (2011-2013).

Rather than feature all past environments, TrackMania 2 solely consists of three environments with various graphic and gaming upgrades as part of the package. The first of these three titles was "TrackMania 2: Canyon." It featured the Desert environment in an enhanced form. Following Canyon was "TrackMania 2 Stadium." It offered up the Stadium environment with various tweaks for an enhanced experience. The latest of the TrackMania 2 offerings is "TrackMania 2 Valley"- an environment that offers up an Autobahn-style environment that kind of combines the Island and Rally environments into one uniquely European setting.


The TrackMania series will not disappoint you if you enjoy making your own race tracks and going out on the road in style.



--- TrackMania Series: Final Thoughts ---

You owe it to yourself to give this series a try if you own a powerful enough PC. Go out and have fun. I certainly have enjoyed making my own courses and enjoying the full experience. You really can't run out of ways to create a course or to make your own tracks.


Video.

The TrackMania series has been around for over ten years now. Here is a video honoring ten years of TrackMania as well as offering a look at some stuff you can get for TrackMania 2:


^ "TrackMania's 10th anniversary [official]"


For More Information...

For more on the TrackMania series, please visit www.trackmania.com.





Do you want to try the TrackMania series? If so, then please take a look at these items below to help you to find what you're looking for. I would recommend you just get TM United Forever. However, if you want more games in the series, I can help you here:




Remember: TrackMania Nations is a free title. To get TrackMania Nations, visit this link: trackmaniaforever.com/nations.





I think you're really going to enjoy the TrackMania series if you want to play an insane racing game series that is great fun to play. Please have yourself a great day and thank you for reading!

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