Hands On With TrackMania 2
On May 18th, Ubisoft hosted their pre-E3 judges day event in Santa Monica, California. Though GameFronters weren’t among the judges, we were on hand to get some time in with several of Ubisoft’s upcoming slate of games, and with E3 now upon us, we’re able to report on what we saw. One particular standout is TrackMania 2.
It’s weird that Ubisoft subsidiary Nadeo’s upcoming entry in the TrackMania series is ‘TrackMania 2′, considering that since the release of the original TrackMania in 2003 there have been a total of 5 subsequent games. Well, it would be weird if this standard operating procedure for Ubisoft as a whole. (Seriously, when the hell is there going to be an actual Assassin’s Creed 3?) So, maybe instead of ‘weird’, we’ll just agree that it’s typical and let it go. A few weeks ago GameFront had the pleasure of attending Ubisoft’s pre E3 showcase, featuring most of their upcoming slate of games, and we had the chance to devote some quality time to TRackMania 2. While far from complete, what we saw indicates a
Improved Track Editor
If you’ve had any experience with previous TrackMania games, you know one of their major selling points is the robust level editor. TrackMania 2 continues that tradition with a track editor that even in the limited form we experienced promises a hell of a lot of fun. TrackMania 2 is set in a desert/western environment similar to the region spanning Wyoming, Arizona, Utah, Nevada and southeastern California, which makes for a considerable number of challenging options. We were able to add ramps, terrain, turns and breaches, quite a lot of variety considering the limited demo. The dev who presented it to us promised a far more versatile customization experience than anything previously offered in the series – sure, it’s corporate boilerplate but we were suitably impressed enough that we took it as sincere.
But the track editor’s impressive versatility isn’t the biggest selling point. Nadeo/Ubisoft are also planning a first person shooter – we believe this game will be ShootMania, though at the time the dev. couldn’t confirm the title – and that shooter features a level editor based on the same tech as TrackMania 2. The plan is for the editors to be compatible, meaning that a level you design in TrackMania 2 for racing can be imported into the shooter and used as a combat arena. Exciting stuff to be sure, though at the time of our hands on, the exact final form this compatibility will take had not been fully settled. Even so, this is a spectacular idea and we look forward to seeing how it develops.
They were also able to confirm that modding will be fully supported, and that means full access to the code as well as modules for modders who aren’t that experienced with coding. While, as with level editing compatibility, the final form won’t be known for some time, it confirms that TrackMania 2 is going to feature ambitious customization, and we can’t wait to see more.
The other aspect we were able to experience was the actual racing/driving, and we can report that it was spectacular. The cars handle like a dream, and we don’t say this lightly. While you can’t say the cars turn on a dime, they do pretty much what you want, when you want. Better still, they’re actually affected by the terrain you drive over, which makes for some interesting strategic decisions mid-race. Handbrake turns are ridiculously responsive and you can almost feel the inertia when drifting from one side of the track to another.
The only complaint we had is the limited number of cars we had to choose from. They promise a ‘large’ number of muscle cars and assorted racing vehicles, and we have no doubt te final game will deliver, but we were only able to access 3 of them, and they functioned identically. We weren’t able to get a total number of cars or makes and models, but they did confirm cars won’t be customizable. However, taking the fact that modding will be fully supported, including the ability to import cars modders made for previous versions of TrackMania into TrackMania 2, it’s not that big of a problem.
Though we only saw a smidgen of what TrackMania 2 has to offer, what little we saw was, frankly, awesome. We spent about 30 minutes – basically until we were informed we needed to make room – playing, and we can’t wait to do it again. We’ll be getting more time at E3 and likely will have more praise, and guaranteed we will be gushing to y’all.