TrackMania Nations ESWC Reader Review
A few years back a free thing arrived on the internet. It was called Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory. Essentially the package was the multiplayer remnants of a discarded expansion pack, released for free. The game sucked me in and for months, I couldn't get enough of it. The game had me more hooked than any retail game I had ever played. I thought to myself, "how can anything top this?"
Prior to TMN, my only experience of the Trackmania series was a demo of the original game. It was fun but really not my kind of game. So when I downloaded this freebie, I wasn't expecting much. I certainaly wasn't expecting to find a game that surpassed the (in my eyes) mighty RTCW:ET. And yet, I did.
What makes TMN great is how deliciously simple the entire product is. There really isn't a whole lot to it, especially offline. The offline portion is the game at it's least impressive - all you have available to you is the ability to practice any track you like, and the ability to edit car skins and create tracks. Fun for a while I must admit, but nothing amazing.
Instead, what makes TMN great is the wonderful online modes, and the excellent community that accompanies it. Every server you connect to is full of friendly people - players of TMN have a kind of respect for each other that I have never seen in an online game before. Imagine an online game with a community that is friendly, without any trash-talking game-wrecking fools. That game is TMN.
Online play consists of three main game modes - Time Trial, Rounds and Team. Time Trial is rather self explanatory - players have around 5 minutes to record the fastest time they can. The player who get around quickest, wins. Next up is Rounds mode, a gametype that at it's best is tense, exciting and a whole lot of fun. Usually played on long, difficult tracks, Rounds is more or less a straight race to the finish line. If you fall of the track, you're out - no restarting like in time trial. There are no collisions between rival racers, as that would cause the game to become destruction derby. Those who finish get points - the first to reach a certain limit wins.
Just like Counter-Strike, TMN has a delicious rythm to it. Race, crash or finish, race, crash or finish... it's so simple yet so effective.
None of this would matter however, if the handling wasn't up to much. Thankfully the cars have an excellent control system that is easy to get to grips with, but you'll still need a lot of skill to make it round the tracks without falling a few hundred feet from the top of a particularly difficult loop the loop.
To add to all this, the track editor ensures the game will last a long time before it gets old. New tracks take seconds to download - every time you play, you tend to come across another track you haven't seen before.
Trackmania Nations is Fun, Challenging and Exciting. And it's better than RTCW:ET.