Trackmania has never been your average car racing game. There are other cars on the track, but you can’t hit them. You can restart the race anytime you want to, and you can make crazy, anti-gravity leaps and loops like you would never ever want to do in real life. But if you love Trackmania you will love Trackmania 2 Canyon just us much.
If you haven’t played a Trackmania title before, you are in for a bit of an experience. Firstly it isn’t so much a race as it is a time-trial. The idea of Trackmania is simple: Complete a lap of the track faster than everyone else. These tracks vary in length – anything from 20seconds to several minutes. To succeed, you need to drive as smoothly as possible, avoiding walls and hitting the perfect driving line. You will see the other players on the servers also racing around the track, however they won’t affect you. Just because you can see them doesn’t mean you can touch them. For a time-trial game, this is great as you can check easily if you are going faster or slower than everyone else on the server.
While the concept is simple, the tracks are anything but. Most racing games will feature a few chicanes, a couple of high speed corners and the occasional tunnel. Trackmania 2 Canyon has high speed jumps, vertical loops, pylons in the middle of the track, and the occasional spot where the road just disappears all together. Let’s just say if you were designing these tracks in real life you wouldn’t expect too many of your drivers to be alive at the end of the lap.
Some of these maps are designed to frustrate, and of course all of them will test your skill. There is a helping hand, though. If your lap is complete fail, you can do a couple of things. Firstly, hit enter and it will return you to the last waypoint. Or hit backspace – that will send you back to the start of the race and zero your race time so you can start again.
Really the trick is to complete a lap early in the round, and then only complete another if you know you have a chance of beating your previous time. This really is a game for those who like beating their own scores. Sure, you are technically competing against everyone else who is on the server however you spend more time just trying to beat your best score, if you happen to come out on top in the server even better.
In any racing game, physics are important. In a racing game where you defy the laws of them, they are even more important. This really is where Trackmania shines. Although they might not be traditional racing physics (in a traditional racing game you don’t do giant leaps or drive upside down), the cars still feel good to race. You can use drifting to your advantage, you can bounce off walls, and occasionally you find yourself flying off a track, but all of these things happen because you caused it not because the car physics have decided to go crazy.
One big improvement Trackmania 2 Canyon brings to the table is how it looks. It might not be next-next-next-gen but it looks good. The track layouts are fantastic, and at times beyond challenging. The cars and environments work well, and the modelling is much better then the original Trackmania.
I found it hard to review Trackmania 2 Canyon not because it is bad but because I really wasn’t sure what to say about it. I think the best way to sum it up is that it is Trackmania with more. If someone asks, “Well is it worth getting?” I would say yes, but I’m really not sure why. I’m not sure how I could say it was better than the previous version other than say it just is. The gameplay is much the same but you wouldn’t want it to be any different. The cars drive very similarly but once again you wouldn’t want them to change much ether. So what makes it better… well, it is just more, more maps, more details, more graphics. It is just more.