Review – Trackmania

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of pulling off a perfect run on a good track. One where there’s no margin for error. Where every corner needs to be taken at the exact right angle at the correct speed. One where the slightest mistake on the wrong terrain can send you spinning out of control. It won’t be on the first try for the majority of the tracks in Trackmania, but practice makes perfect is the name of the game here. While I’m unsure how long the novelty will last, while it does it’s a fantastic thrill ride of a gameplay experience.

The most important thing to understand is Trackmania’s subscription model. The base game is free to play, and I feel this is actually enough for most people. You get access to a whole bunch of tracks, with no limits to progression. However, free users don’t have full access to the track creator. So anyone with a creative drive in addition to a traditional one will have to spring for Standard Access. On top of that, there’s Club Access, which is for those who wish to create and run a Club or Tournament. It’s worth noting that this is all included with Uplay+, so subbing to that service is another option. While I would have prefered a one-off purchase, the lack of any other microtransactions in addition to its post-launch support makes it worthwhile in my humble opinion. Plus, the Starter plan is still more than enough for those who just want to race.

As far as multi-tier subs go, this one is pretty simple. Racing is Starter, creator is Standard, and full community tools is Club.

Now the game. There’s two parts to Trackmania. The actual racing portion, focused on time trials across a large number of tracks, with more to come on a monthly basis. Then there’s track creation, using quite a robust creator tool. Both are done well, and for the right person, they will come together for an incredibly solid experience. Personally, I’m not the creator type, so most of my interest is in the racing. Still, the creator tool is really detailed, and even a quick perusal showed just how much you can do with it. Its breadth reminds me of Super Mario Makerand I have no doubt people will be doing just as insane things in here as they keep doing in Nintendo’s game.

Straight runs were made for punching the gas and letting loose….and then failing to make the turn at the end and flying off the track.

The driving is done just as well, and it’s one of the most entertaining racers I’ve played in a while. It feels so smooth to play, and the feeling of speed is exhilarating without taking away your feeling of control. Every time I screwed up and ended up spinning like a top, I always understood why. For a game focused on repeating tracks until you’ve perfected them, nailing that feeling is paramount. I always understood how and why things happened, and what I needed to do to improve my performance.

In short bursts, I found the gameplay loop intoxicating. The best competition is myself after all, and Trackmania fuels that fire like nothing else. Even then though, after a while, things started to feel same-y. Once there’s even more tracks on the table, though, with even crazier and more complex designs I’m sure that will be much less of an issue.

Sadly, the game only switches to first-person when the track would impede the camera. I’m sure it would be a motion sickness frenzy, but first-person Trackmania sounds like an appealing VR experience.

Trackmania is one of those games that’s just fun with a capital F. It doesn’t redefine the genre or bring anything new to the table, but is a highly polished example of it. Other than a janky menu UI, there’s nothing it does overtly wrong. Some may be turned off by the subscription model, but with no microtransactions and Ubisoft’s typical support coming over the next few months, I feel it’s still more than worth it. Even then, the free version is more then enough to experience what the game has to offer. There’s no reason not to try it out, any racing fan should feel free to give it a try. For those who want to give the creator a proper spin, a free trial of Uplay+ is more than enough to see if that’s worth subscribing for too. It’s a fun game that’s free with no micro-transactions, what else is there to say?

Graphics: 9.0

The game looks and runs beautifully.

Gameplay: 8.0

Driving is simple and feels fantastic, while the track builder is quite robust.

Sound: 6.5

The soundtrack is forgettable background music, though the sound effects are crisp.

Fun Factor: 7.0

The game can be borderline addicting at the start, locking you in an endless competition against yourself. After a while though, I felt like I’d experienced all the game had rather quickly.

Final Verdict: 7.5

Trackmania is available now on PC.

Reviewed on PC.

A copy of Trackmania was provided by the publisher.