Review: TrackMania Turbo (PS4) - A minute to learn, years to master

Trackmania Turbo is a game that lives up to the promise of its name. High-octane thrills and inevitable spills flesh out a challenge-oriented racer that one moment will have you drifting around u-corners, then will put your eyes to the nose of the car as you pull loops the next. It bounces between a challenge game to get the best medal and a true party racer to hit the highest speed and beat the other online competitors. Ultimately the hundreds of tracks, customization options, and medals to unlock might prove daunting to some but delivers a game that defines itself accurately as an arcade racer.

Ubisoft brings out Trackmania Turbo amidst what could be considered a division among racing games; simulation vs. Arcade. With titles like Need for Speed, Forza Horizon, and Assetto Corsa straddling the lines between the two, with the latter opting for a pure simulation angle, Trackmania Turbo is the most arcade style of the bunch. It comes to the far left of all the racers I've personally seen this year, and offers fun in the way of madness and speed.

Players are greeted at the main menu with fairly basic choices: Campaign, Online Racing, Track Builder, Multiplayer, and the Garage to really dive into the customization options. Right away you'll essentially be stuck with national flags as paint jobs, but after getting a few gold medals, many more options open up.

The campaign serves as the main challenge mode and progression mechanism for the game, allowing players to go through literally hundreds of tracks in order to try to beat the gold medal times, and unlock more tracks, and customization options for the cars and drivers. Tracks start out fairly innocuous, being set in a desert-like environment called Canyon Grand Drift, and are pretty straight forward tracks that teach the player a few mechanics like drifting and the basic concept of not holding the throttle the entire time. Moving on, the courses get much more interesting, and start to pipe in new mechanics. Players can expect more varied landscapes in Valley Down & Dirty, Lagoon Rollercoaster, as well as International Stadium. Each of these tracks not only change aesthetics, but also the car you're attempting to control but probably failing at. Canyon has a stock-inspired car, Valley gets a beetle-like rally car, Lagoon has a Dakkar-style rally buggy, and the International Stadium, set in a metro city gets an F1-style racer.

As the aesthetics change so do the physics and mechanics. Moving up through the levels serves as a rewarding progression first in seeing what the surroundings look like and second what wrench the game will throw in the gears. For instance, Lagoon brings out the rollercoaster like track features and proves as a fast and furious, sometimes forced first person ride through the tracks. International Stadium brings out panels that will kill your engine and others that kick it back on. Complete with turbo sections and great set decoration that hints to the racer when to drift or when a chicane is ahead, the entire experience of a race is fun from beginning to end. Couple this with quick races, ranging from about 20 seconds to 2 minutes in multilap affairs, it's an easy game to jump in and out of. Helpful to the experience of earning better medals and becoming a better racer is the ability to instantly restart. As things don't just go bad in Trackmania Turbo, they tend to go absolutely haywire in a split second.

Trackbuilder is a real joy of Trackmania Turbo, serving as the real longevity play from Ubisoft and counting on the creativity of the users to prolong the life of the game, which is a smart move. The track builder itself is varied in complexity based on your comfort level. Giving the creator the option to pick beginner, normal, or advanced allows for freedom and learning in the process of creating tracks. It even gives a randomizer that allows the game to figure out it's own configuration with mixed results. Adding loops, corkscrews, jumps and more allows players to create some insanity for buddies and strangers alike.

Ubisoft played the creation smart as well, ensuring that the track must be validated to completion through an actual race, a la Mario Maker. While there weren't many tracks created before the writing of this review, the tools in place and the snappy response seems as though it will provide some true reason to stick with the mode.

As if that weren't enough, Trackmania Turbo features a mode called Double Driver, where two drivers control the same vehicle through sheer communication. The mode adds in the perfect amount of confusion and necessary communication to make each race an exercise in patience and saying what you need to say, in as little words as possible. If you've got two controllers for your console and a buddy to give it a try, it deserves at least a quick look.

If you want to drill down the actual mechanics and physics within Trackmania Turbo, you'll find a game that is truly easy to pick up and get the gist of within a few minutes, but will then likely take tens of hours to before you can actually call yourself a pro . With buttons assigned for accelerate, brake, restart from checkpoint and restart from beginning, you should be able to gather what kind of experience you'll have. There will be restarts in the pursuit of the gold, and hitting a jump wrong won't allow you to recover in mid-air. Instead, you'll find yourself lining up your jumps and lines through corners like a real driver , even if you're suspended upside down on the track due to recent advances in anti-gravity in the world of Trackmania Turbo.


- Great sense of speed

- Mechanics are solid, physics feel right, and the rules of the world are laid out - explicitly

- Great environments, even though only 4, they're varied and each unique

- If you goof up, it might not be your fault, but you'll know why it happened

- Races quick enough to jump in and knock a few out


- Can feel a bit like a mobile game at times due to the nature of medals

- Unlocking cosmetic items requires gold medals, which might be hard to come by initially

The Bottom Line

Trackmania Turbo is a thrill ride, offering up some high-speed action that feels great from beginning to end. Complaints are minimal, and even though the cosmetic items are slow to earn unless you're a natural, it still feels good when they are unlocked. The sense of speed, simple to learn yet hard to master controls, and the consistent mechanics make the game truly come together as a great arcade racer with some surprisingly consistent, almost simulation-grade mechanics like cornering and drifting.

Ubisoft provided with a PS4 code of TrackMania Turbo for the purposes of this review.

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