April 30, 2008 Leave a comment
When I played first UT most people around played CS – whatever version it was. That was the first time I started hearing “steam” regularly – and often accompanied with some harsh words. It’s like eight months ago when I’ve read in Czech computer games magazine about Valve’s Orange Box for 50 bucks. I was positive about Steam (so many people already uses it) and after I’ve got into it I have to say I don’t regret. So far Steam works very well for me and I’m satisfied. Once in a while it annoys me with some news – well, it’s not really annoying because I don’t mind to be informed about new stuff. And that was how I’ve learned about Trackmania Nations Forever.
“Game for free? Why not?” And so I’ve downloaded it two weeks ago. I didn’t realize that I would sleep less because of this unweighted decision. But don’t worry – it’s not that bad like with Travian web-game. 🙂 Trackmania is nice and simple racing game – but with more than simple graphics. If you remember some old games, probably Stunt might come to your mind. Or maybe good old Stunt Car Racer (in my case Pete Cook’s ZX Spectrum version). But Stunt on PC was first where I saw that you can create your own crazy track and play it. Trackmania has it all – you can drive and race on crazy tracks (65 if I’m not mislead), you can build your own tracks, you can save replies of your best rides and you can also play it on-line. I never tried it on-line though, so I rather skip this part.
But even off-line it’s great and addictive. Thing is that it has extremely simple controls – just arrow keys. On many tracks you’ll never even use down arrow (as a brake of course). There are some checkpoints on the track that assures that you can’t exploit some nasty shortcuts. When you fall off the track – in case it’s somewhere higher than the ground – you can use Enter to respawn on the last checkpoint. That said – you’ll probably rather use Backspace to restart the track altogether. That’s because while there is no one standing in your way on the track you still have some opponent. There are AI drivers that represent bronze, silver and gold medal for every track – and of course – you want to beat them. I said they are not standing in your way – they are more like shadows – although they appear solid you can drive over them and you don’t collide with them in any way. Sometimes they can block your vision if they are right after you and you use 3rd person camera (which is likely) – this is especially annoying during long jumps. But these are only rare occasions. There is one more shadow – this represents your best time on that track. Very nice feature.
Players are mostly crazy about beating those medal opponents – that’s why you probably use that Backspace key a lot. Don’t worry – everybody does so. There are some ugly tracks with long jumps at the end and I bet you’ll be mad about them. Long jumps – when you need to touch down on the track – are most critical. And it’s not that easy to make them perfectly every time – sometimes in very high speeds it’s more random although some skill (or some practice) can surely help with this. If you’re very good and very fast you can achieve one more medal on every track – so called author’s medal. And after that you can compare your times with other players – this is chart for track A04 for instance. (Am I still on top? :-))
Some tracks are very original (and frustrating too ;-)) and if you like racing games you definitely should try this one. You’ll drive on hard surface, dirt, grass and more – and you’ll have to adjust your style on them (but don’t expect hard-core simulation). You’ll meet various obstacles (pillars, holes) or special parts on the track (turbo or free wheeling). You’ll learn that it’s not so effective to accelerate on the roadside or that it’s very risky to adjust your direction just before the jump. Although the model seems realistic enough later you can learn that there is some air-control possible with the acceleration key – try to jump and hold the key and then try the same jump and release it, you’ll see.
Although frustrating sometimes this game is pure fun and what surprised me the most even my wife likes it. Not to play, just to watch, but still better than if she dragged me out of computer, right? 🙂 And it’s free! I don’t know how it can be delivered, but if you have Steam, there is really no problem to download it. It will annoy you with offer to upgrade to Trackmania Unlimited Forever after you exit the game but that’s really not a big deal. I like it. It’s simple, fun, yet with nice graphics and you might like it just like I do. Have fun!