Review

TrackMania Sunrise

Reviewed by Ortwin Regel, Posted on 2005-05-11

1046 Views

Developer: Nadeo Publisher: Enlight
Release Date: May 6, 2005 Also On: None

Why do you play racing games? To experience a realistic simulation of driving? To drive dozens of rounds on the same track trying to stay on the racing line as much as possible just like in a real race? Well, I play racing games to experience some insane speed and crazy stunts that would be life-threatening, at least, and maybe even impossible if tried in real life. Stunts, an awesome racing game by Distinctive Software, released in 1990, was designed for exactly that purpose. Now, some 15 years later, it has finally got the ‘sequel’ it deserves with TrackMania Sunrise.

Driving is not the only important thing in TrackMania Sunrise. Building tracks is just as important. An easy-to-use track editor comes with the game. Tracks are made from fixed parts like curves or loops. Making a track is a little like designing a rollercoaster in Rollercoaster Tycoon. Of course a track editor is always only an optional part of the game. You don't have to use it.

Wait, this is different in Trackmania! The game has a puzzle mode. That means that you have to build or complete the track with a fixed number of parts before you drive it. The goal remains getting from start to finish in the shortest time, of course, so you have to combine intelligent track design with skilled driving. Often the most obvious track design is not the best.

The puzzle mode is the heart of the game but there are others too. One is the straight forward racing mode. You are given a track and you have to complete it in the shortest possible time. More interesting is the platform mode. Time does not matter here. What matters is the number of tries you need to complete the track. If you fall from the platform, fall into the water or land on your roof you can start again at the last checkpoint but you have only 11 tries for a bronze medal, 4 for a silver one or 1 for a gold medal. Depending on the medals you get other tracks are unlocked. The last game mode to be unlocked is the crazy mode. This mode really is crazy; you race against 12 opponents on the same short track again and again with the goal being to defeat them as often as possible.

Trackmania lets you drive against opponents and symbolize the gold, silver and bronze medal times or your personal best time. Another significant difference from other racing games is that there are only three cars to drive: an insanely fast, Ferrari-style car, a small city car and the car with the worst handling ever. There are only three environments in the game (island, bay and coast...very descriptive names) and each car is tied to one environment. The landscape and parts the tracks in this environment are made of have been designed to fit the handling of the car you drive in it. The crazy fast Ferrari car gets lots of loops, corkscrews and wide curves while the car with the worst handling ever gets curves with rails so that you don't fall off so much.

Let us take a look at the presentation next: it's awesome. The graphics are really stunning. This is a game that would not have needed great graphics but it has them and they look really good. There is shiny bump mapping everywhere. Sound is okay and there is some great music that really enhances the game's atmosphere. A cool feature is the media tracker. It lets the creator of a track determine what camera angle is used on what part of the track (and you can also make intros with it). For example, if you go into a looping, the camera will switch to bumper view so you can better see where you are going. The media tracker also makes Micro Machines style tracks and other interesting things possible. It is definitely a great invention.

TrackMania takes quite a while to beat. You can play the game lots of hours until you have every gold medal. What really creates great replay value, though, is the downloadable content. There are hundreds of tracks already online made by players around the world and many of them are worth playing. The best place to get them is http://sunrise.tm-exchange.com/. While not an official website, it is an important part of the game. There you can also show off your records and award tracks that you like. You can also download new looks for the three cars in the game. One of the first things I did was replace the Ferrari-style car with a real Ferrari model. There are already lots of cars to choose from and more are made all the time. You can get them at the French website: http://www.trackmania-carpark.com/.

Is TrackMania worth getting? Of course it is! If you don't expect a realistic driving simulation, but instead hours and hours of crazy fun, then this is definitely your game. Try the demo to see if you like this new way to play racing games, but I am sure you will. Don’t take my word for it though, download the demo at: http://www.enlight.com/sunrise/, then click ‘Downloads – Demo’.

Graphics: 9
Sound: 9
Gameplay: 9
Creativity: 9
Replay Value/Game Length: 10
Final: 9.2
Written by Ortwin Review Guide

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Reviewed by Ortwin Regel

1046 Views