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.