Trackmania Turbo is the thrilling arcade racer this generation has been missing, but it's also a damn frustrating game at points.
To unlock all of Trackmania Turbo's campaign events, split between four zones and four different cars, you've got to be bloody good at driving virtual cars. Most of these events are point-to-point time trials, your vehicle hurtling around the track in order to make the exit in a time fast enough to earn a bronze, silver or gold medal (or a hidden one I'm not even going to pretend I'll ever get close to achieving). I've got a handful of gold medals, but most are silvers. Trackmania is a hard game.
Each car has a very distinct handling model, and I certainly enjoy some more than others. My favourite is the heavy, drift-friendly beast used to tackle the Canyon courses. Feeling very much like a classic '90s arcade racer, the powersliding is excellent and rekindles memories of Daytona (with a touch of Ridge Racer). I'm less keen on the twitch-happy buggies used for the Down and Dirty Valley courses, which always seem on the edge of careering out of control, but the cars used for the Lagoon Rollercoaster and International Stadium are more to my liking (read as: I can drive them better).
Track designs are deliberately tough, and perhaps a touch unfair. Obstacles stand in the middle of the course, jumps send you flying out of bounds if you dare enter them at a non-optimal angle, and clipping a rock can result in the kind of spinning an Olympic diver would struggle to control. Thankfully you can instantly restart an event, Trials style: something you'll be doing over and over again.
There's a lot of content locked away in the campaign, most of which requires a certain number of silver or gold medals in order to access. I'm not sure I'll ever be good enough to unlock it all, such is the difficulty Trackmania relishes in torturing you with, so I'm thankful you can see all the courses inside the (local) fastest-time 3-credits-a-go Arcade mode. Courses can be learnt, of course, and nothing ever appears randomly to throw you off, but this is most definitely a game for people who get a kick out of trial and error improvements.
Outside of the Campaign and Arcade action, a whole heap of multiplayer modes exist, throwing up to 100 players together on a track (as well as ghost cars shooting around all over the place) as you all try to get the fastest times. It's great fun, and there are loads of options to play with when setting up a lobby. I personally prefer to chip away at my fastest times without the spectacle of cars leaping about, but the online modes make for a nice break.
More engaging is the game's selection of standard and oddball local multiplayer modes. Four-player split-screen play is offered for the usual head-to-head stuff, but there's also a bizarre two-player co-op mode in which the duo control a single car, having to combine their efforts to steer the vehicle around the track. Another mode (hidden on the multiplayer menu) is single-screen multiplayer that harks back to Micro Machines. If someone falls off the viewable area, they're out. Fun stuff.
Building things in video games has never been a major plus point for me. The idea always sounds appealing, but the reality is usually something that takes away from the time I have to actually play games. Trackmania Turbo's Track Builder, while full of options to make some really cool stuff, is not for me. I'm happy it's here, allowing me to experience the best the community of gamers put out there, but (on consoles it least) it feels tedious and relatively unnecessary given the amount of pre-built tracks on offer. Auto-generating courses is good for a few minutes, but I'm unlikely to dabble more than that.
Trackmania Turbo isn't a showpiece title in the same vein as DriveClub but the bright colours, crisp image quality and incredible sense of speed lend it an arcadey appearance that is impossible not to enjoy. On the Rollercoaster-themed courses the whole thing can be rather dazzling, with the camera auto-switching to Bumper Cam as you defy gravity thanks to magnetised road surfaces. There's an elegant beauty to a car sliding around a corner at insane speed, and Trackmania Turbo has this in abundance.
I can already see that competing against friends to fastest times is going to be a bit of an addiction, again like Trials, and for only £25 I can't see many reasons not to give Trackmania Turbo a whirl.
Version Tested: PS4