“TrackMania² Canyon” is one of many games in the “TrackMania” series, this particular one being the first and allowing players to experience the thrill of racing in a canyon-esque setting. I’ve had my eye on it for a while, mainly due to the fact that I hadn’t touched a true racing game in a very long time. Having played and enjoyed “Gas Guzzlers: Combat Carnage”, I was eager to see how this particular racing game stacked up and what new innovations I’d see in my travels. I’ll say this much…the trailer boasted jumps and drops that left me slack-jawed. Before I begin comparing automobile insurance rates online, I’d like to thank Edouard Beauchemin from Nadeo for providing me with a free review copy.
Players will have the ability to adjust game settings before launching the game, and it’s recommended that you do since a lot of those settings won’t be available to change in-game. Hitting “configure” at the ManiaPlanet launcher allows you to choose a screen resolution, toggle fullscreen mode, change your performance quality, assign a network speed, choose between single and multiple profiles, and even enable a parental lock. The last option really took me aback…as a parent myself, I’m glad to see this particular feature available. Hitting the advanced button lets you do much more…change geometry details, water reflection details, motion blur toggles, adjust audio quality, change network and peer-to-peer options…there’s way too many to get into, but it’s safe to say that players will appreciate the amount of options available to them.
Once you’re in-game, you’ll be presented with a control panel of sorts after registering a free account. Rather than being presented with your standard menu, you’ll be allowed to access various ManiaPlanet games by adding them to your dashboard. The interface takes some getting used to at first, but I appreciate that I’m able to play any ManiaPlanet game that I own from here. After clicking on the “TrackMania² Canyon” window, I was presented with the usual options: solo play, multiplayer, competitions, local play, editors, and profile. News can be accessed from here and you’ll even be able to write messages and see which of your buddies is online by utilizing the bar along the top.
If you decide to drive solo, you’ll be able to choose between five different difficulties, each with their own set of maps that you’ll need to earn medals on to unlock more maps. What impressed me the most was the rankings system…the system actually compared my rank with that of Pennsylvania, the United States, North America, and even the world. What’s more, the system saves these races and allows you to race the ghost of ANY player. If you’ve played a particular map already, you’ll even be allowed to race yourself…that is, the ghost of yourself recorded from a previous race. It’s a unique way to compare yourself among all of the different players out there. Doing well earns you medals automatically (bronze, silver, and gold) and you’ll need to do so in order to play some of the locked maps.
Local play allows players to choose between split screen and hot seat modes. You can also setup a local network, which is perfect for places like college dorms and people who have access to larger LANs. Multiplayer takes the racing online against others from all over the world, though you can specify the state and continent if you wish. After choosing a game from the lobby, you’ll be thrust into the action and will be quickly racing against others in whatever mode the game’s creator set. Players won’t run into each other (at least in the games I played), so if you run into a wall or wreck, it’s your own darn fault.
The racing controls are very simple. Unlike racing games that feature weapons and pickups, you’ll simply be using the arrow keys (or what have you) to get to the finish line. There are no machine guns or rocket launchers to slow down someone in front of you. All you’ll have is your reflexes and your eyes to guide you to that top spot. There are various keys that allow you to show/hide ghosts/opponents and change the camera, but nothing overly complex.
One thing I would like to see is some sort of garage that lets you edit different car models. In “TrackMania² Canyon”, there is no system that allows you to unlock more cars or better car parts to make you faster. While you’ll be able to choose your color/model in the profile menu, I didn’t see any advantage of using one over the other and I couldn’t find a way to customize them further beyond a custom paint job. Not having anything to shoot for to make you “better/stronger” might discourage some players over the long haul, however those who MUST be the best racer/top dog will find replayability and endless competitive play. The map editor, on the other hand, will allow players to make some incredible tracks. Whether you want a soothing, straight stretch of track or a crazy, never-ending wreckfest that will make you cringe every ten seconds, the map editor will aim to please.
Overall, “TrackMania² Canyon” is a solid racing experience that is a heck of a lot of fun. It’s the kind of game you can turn on, see which of your friends beat your previous high scores, and have at it for hours until you come out on top again. It offers a lot of different game settings and technical options, but lacks detailed car customization. The ability to create your own tracks improves the replayability tenfold, and allowing up to one hundred cars in one game makes for some crazy multiplayer races. At $19.99 (as of 3/1/13), it’s a good buy and totally worth it if you’re heavy into competitive racing.
Final Verdict: 8/10
You can learn more about and purchase “TrackMania² Canyon” by visiting the following websites:
You can check out video play sessions here: