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TrackMania² Stadium

“TrackMania² Canyon” was a blast to play, especially on the levels that involved loops and jumps.  Even though I tended to flip upside down and skid off the road into deep, menacing crevices, I found myself coming back for more abuse regardless of what my insurance agent said.  “TrackMania² Stadium” is the second game in the TrackMania series, this time allowing players the ability to test their reflexes on stadium tracks inspired by the “TrackMania Nations Forever” game.  Before we take a look at our newest member of the TrackMania collection, I’d like to thank Edouard Beauchemin from Nadeo for providing me with a free review copy.

TrackMania² Stadium

TrackMania² Stadium (PC)

Before the game boots up, you’ll be able to customize your game options from the ManiaPlanet launcher.  It’s worth noting that I had to click on the game in Steam and run it from there to get the launcher, as the desktop shortcut took me straight to the game.  I was surprised to see that the settings I customized for “TrackMania² Canyon” carried over, meaning that I didn’t have to adjust a thing.  For the benefit of those new to the “TrackMania” series, you’ll be able to configure a boatload of different technical options from here.  You’ll be able to adjust screen resolution, full screen toggles, performance quality, parental locks, network speed, audio qualities, network & peer-to-peer options, and some gameplay elements.

New players to the series will need to register, which is easy to do and free to boot.  After the registration process, you’ll be taken to a dashboard allowing you to organize all of your games from the “Mania” series.  You can add games you’ve purchased here into their own window, allowing you to play these games with the click of a mouse.  You’ll also have the ability to send messages and add friends to your buddy list.  It’s like an in-game Steam/Impulse/Origin platform for all things “Mania” but simplified.  You can adjust some game settings from here as well, but nothing as extensive as the what you were able to do in the launcher.

TrackMania Stadium

Looks familiar, but no less intuitive.

The main menu inside the “TrackMania² Stadium” game bears a striking resemblance to “TrackMania² Canyon”, except that the background is green instead of a light grayish blue.  Players will be able to participate in single player, multiplayer, and local play matches.  There’s also an editor’s menu that lets you create new tracks, load a saved creation, edit a replay, and perform a custom paint job.  You’ll also have access to a news ticker as well as links to various social medias like the forums.  Like “TrackMania² Canyon”, I found this interface to be pretty darn slick, though it does take some getting used to.

Solo driving is set up the same way as in “TrackMania² Canyon” in that you’ll be able to choose a difficulty, choose opponents (if any), and jump right into the action.  The stats system still serves to impress me as I can view my rank and times on any of the tracks and compare them to anyone in my state, country, continent, or even the world.  You can race the ghost of anyone on the stats list, including yourself.  It’s a great environment for friends (or complete strangers) to compete, all without the distraction of other drivers in multiplayer modes.  If you do well on these maps, you’ll earn medals.  Earn enough medals, and you’ll be able to unlock new maps in which to mess around.

TrackMania² Stadium

You can admire your expert driving (or spectacular failures) via the instant replay feature.

If you’re a social butterfly, “TrackMania² Stadium” has you covered.  Like in “TrackMania² Canyon” (I sound like a broken record), you can play locally or take your wheels to the internet.  Players who decide to play locally will be able to do so via hot seat and split screen modes, as well as connect via a LAN.  Multiplayer matches can be created or joined via the lobby interface, which lists out all of the available games.  There are different modes available, allowing players to race directly and indirectly without the fear of wrecking into each other.  It’s similar to single player mode, but you’ll be able to race alongside others in real-time.

F1 cars take the front seat this time around and I’m pleased to see that there are ten pages worth of designs to choose from in your profile menu.  The environments themselves are a lot different and more “professional.” “TrackMania² Canyon” had more of an off-road feeling, especially when I found myself careening off a cliff because I was going too fast on a turn.  In this case, the environments are a bit more modern and sleek.  Instead of canyons and rock formations in the background, you’ll see things like flags, skyscrapers, and etc.  It was a welcome change from what I was used to seeing.  The tracks were colorful and creative, some lasting less than thirty seconds and others about two minutes.  I’m pleased that races don’t generally take that long, especially since I find myself starting over any time I wreck.  It’s a concept that you perfectionists out there will understand.

TrackMania² Stadium

“TrackMania² Stadium” is much more colorful than “Canyon.”

Overall, “TrackMania² Stadium” is indeed a worthy addition to the “TrackMania” series.  It’s extremely fun to play, even when I find myself cringing after wrecking horribly.  It still lacks detailed car customization as the game doesn’t allow you to tweak car parts and the like, but for $9.99, it’s definitely a good deal.  I’m glad to see that the developers kept with the old adage, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Those who enjoyed “TrackMania² Canyon” will certainly have fun with this game too, though I must admit, I liked “Canyon” a smidge better.

Final Verdict: 8/10

You can learn more about and purchase “TrackMania² Stadium” by visiting the following websites:

http://www.nadeo.com/

http://www.maniaplanet.com/

http://store.steampowered.com/app/232910/

You can view video play sessions here:

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