Track­ma­nia Turbo

EDGE - - PLAY - De­vel­oper Nadeo Pub­lisher Ubisoft For­mat PC, PS4 (tested), Xbox One Re­lease Out now

That the Track­ma­nia se­ries has taken so long to find its way onto con­sole feels like a small tragedy when you see what Nadeo can do with the brief. Track­ma­nia Turbo re­tains the fun­da­men­tals of its PC fore­bears, of­fer­ing up 200 dizzy­ing, pre­dom­i­nantly point-to-point ob­sta­cle cour­ses on which to com­pete for the best time pos­si­ble. It’s still tough, too, echo­ing Tri­als’ school of lulling play­ers with a gen­tle break­ing-in pe­riod be­fore shift­ing gears to some­thing al­to­gether more daunt­ing. And there’s a pow­er­ful track ed­i­tor for you to build your own stom­ach-churn­ing cre­ations.

But the ear­lier games’ bare­bones struc­ture and ugly UI have been re­placed with a user-friendly, brightly coloured treat­ment that chan­nels the sunny aes­thet­ics and so­lid­ity of ’90s ar­cade rac­ers. Cars aren’t quite as twitchy as the first game’s, ex­hibit­ing a weighty mo­men­tum but propen­sity to break trac­tion that makes drifting feel like you’re slid­ing across but­tered tar­mac.

Along with the sprawl­ing cham­pi­onship, there’s also four­player splitscreen rac­ing, asyn­chro­nous on­line chal­lenges against friends and strangers’ times, a pass­the-con­troller party mode, and re­turn­ing (and en­tirely ridicu­lous) si­mul­ta­ne­ous on­line races in which hun­dreds of non-cor­po­real driv­ers bat­tle for a podium De­spite the weight­ier cars, break­ing trac­tion is as sim­ple as tap­ping the brakes as you turn. You’ll need to start your slide well ahead of the cor­ner, how­ever, mak­ing Track­ma­nia’s drifting feel pleas­antly like Mario Kart 8’ s po­si­tion against the clock. One mode even lets you share driv­ing du­ties with a friend, if things weren’t al­ready chal­leng­ing and chaotic enough.

Nadeo’s se­lec­tion of tracks are di­vided be­tween four en­vi­ron­ments, each with their own the­matic quirks and ve­hi­cle style. The In­ter­na­tional Sta­dium area fo­cuses on pre­ci­sion and cor­ner­ing skills; Dirty Val­ley is a bumpy of­froad test of your sus­pen­sion; Canyon Drift lets you get the back end out of­ten; and La­goon Roller­coaster in­dulges the se­ries’ ex­cesses with corkscrews, loop-the-loops and wall rides.

But all this fun ob­scures a bru­tally un­for­giv­ing dif­fi­culty curve and crude un­lock­ing struc­ture which re­quires you to get to get a medal on ev­ery track in or­der to progress. And while the cars han­dle slightly more like real ve­hi­cles than re­mote-con­trol toys, there’s still an ex­cess of sen­si­tiv­ity that of­ten leaves less room for mis­judg­ment than even Tri­als’ most fe­ro­cious mo­ments. As a re­sult, it re­quires a level of com­mit­ment to per­fect­ing rep­e­ti­tion that many will find off-putting.

For those pre­pared to put in the hours, Track­ma­nia Turbo is an ex­hil­a­rat­ing, sat­is­fy­ing rush that man­ages to dis­til every­thing that was good about the age­ing PC se­ries while mak­ing it feel fresh again, and con­sid­er­ably more stylish. This light­ness of touch, com­bined with instant restarts and a Tri­als- style check­point sys­tem, makes for an ex­tremely mor­eish racer.

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