If you are one of those gamers who love to spend countless hours with map editors and character creators, then TrackMania is definitely a DS game that will please.
Being tossed around from publisher to publisher, Atlus finally landed TrackMania and brought it to the states. Although this game has been overseas for a while now, this US release does not include anything new. However, players are treated with an exaggerated take on a realistic sim.
Not quite and arcade racer and not truly a sim, TrackMania is somewhere in-between. Using realistic looking vehicles, players will not just be racing on an oval track, but will have you racing through loop-de-loops, massive curves, jumps, and twists. This style of play is actually quite a refreshing way to enjoy a racer. It is kind of like mixing the speed and coolness of F-Zero with the realistic approach of Gran Turismo.
The main single player mode pits players against ghost AI drivers on a quest to beat their fastest times. Once this mode has been exhausted, the player can participate in a number of different challenges with the goal being to reach the finish line without falling off the track. Finally, we have the editor mode. Here, players can craft their own tracks and share with friends…locally. The complete lack of WiFi mode is the game’s biggest flaw.
TrackMania controls very well, even when putting tracks together in the editor mode. The buttery smooth 60 fps game engine is quite a feat for a DS title and really needs to be seen to be believed. Moreover, the game’s track editor has a surprisingly high amount of depth and detail. Although there is a bit a learning curve, the controls use a wise mixture of face buttons and stylus control. Even more impressive is that the player has the ability to transport into a vehicle at any time without going through any awkward loading screens. Overall, the game’s engine has been programmed very, very well. TrackMania has to be one of the most visually striking games on DS.
As detailed as this game is, there are still some flaws. First, this game is not your typical racer as the player basically will always face off against ghosts. This means that you can never ram your opponents off the edge or damage their vehicle with a side swipe. Racing ghosts probably makes you a cleaner driver, but not having the ability to compete against unique AI takes away something from the overall experience. Secondly, there are times when unexpected clipping and hiccupy hit detection will occur, causing your fastest times to be thrown off by several seconds. Finally, the lack of an online mode really causes this game to crash. With such a smooth engine and fantastic level editor, not taking this game online is a true sin and really makes the game feel incomplete.
TrackMania is a great addition to the DS’s racing library and should hopefully set the tone for games to come. The lack on WiFi support is the biggest drawback, but the cool level editor and silky smooth 60 fps game engine is really something that any fan of racing games should experience. This game has history on the PC, but this DS version is great proof that games can be ported over to less powerful systems and still contain a high level of polish and presentation. If you don’t mind not having the ability to share your work with the rest of the world, you should definitely check this game out.