posted 7/19/2004 by John Yan
other articles by John Yan
One Page Platforms: PC
Some of my all time favorite games have been arcade stunt racers. On the Amiga, it was Stunt Car Racer that had me hooked. On the PC, Whiplash was so addicting for me, I used to skip classes in college to play it on the LAN with 7 others. I was so disappointed when the Voodoo2 didn’t support Whiplash that I kept my Voodoo1 to play the game in 3D accelerated mode. When I heard about Trackmania, I was pretty excited about the premise and that it could satisfy my craving for a Whiplash substitute.

Published by Enlight, in release in Europe for six months, and now getting a US release, Trackmania lets you race tracks with loops, corkscrews, jumps and obstacles. Not only can you race but you can also build your own tracks. Supporting LAN or Internet multiplayer, Trackmania has all the ingredients to provide an addicting and fun experience.

For starters, the game features three types of cars: a rally car, a stock racing car, and a jeep. Each car appears in the three different types of environments that the tracks are set in. They all seem to drive a little differently too with the racing car being fast and unstable on tight turns and the jeep that hugs the road. Three modes of play are available with race, puzzle, and survival. Race lets you race against the clock to get the best time for the track. Survival pits you against multiple computer racers for first, second, or third place. Puzzle is an interesting concept whereby you are giving a start point, end point, and a limited number of track pieces. You’ll have to not only build a track to get you to the end point, but race through it as well. All three offer a good variety of play and incorporating the track editor into a game mode was a nice idea.

The physics is very arcadish so those looking for a realistic driving experience will disappointed. But I rather enjoy the simplified driving experience over something more realistic in these types of games. There is some flipping of the cars and you’ll see some nice tumbles at times. Hooking up my Logitech MOMO wheel, I was breezing through the various tracks with ease. Sometimes, driving games are harder to play when using a wheel, but I found Trackmania to be quite easy with one thanks to the simplistic driving physics.

One of the things I loved about Whiplash was the intense action and fighting for a spot by bumping into the other cars. The game also had a damage meter for each car and would slow down as you were damaged more. Unfortunately, there is no car collision in this game as each car on the track is a ghost. Even on multiplayer games, you’ll drive the track as if you’re the only one on there but you do see your competition. The tracks are too narrow to really allow more than one car on the road so having collision between cars would really hinder the game. The lack of collision does ensure smooth play from those that just want to cause trouble by running into everyone.
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