Preview: TrackMania 2: CanyonPreview: TrackMania 2: Canyon
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Preview: TrackMania 2: Canyon

TrackMania 2 Canyon, the sequel to the absolutely bonkers racer, Trackmania. Having missed the original Trackmania, I wasn’t too sure what to expect when I started up Trackmania 2: Canyon. From the outside it looks like another standard racer but it’s so much more than that.

I was lucky enough to be given access to the multiplayer beta that is currently ongoing. After installing the game and setting up an account I was greeted by a series of servers and race types. I just picked the top one as I wanted to get into the game as soon as possible.

Trackmania 1 Preview: TrackMania 2: Canyon

The game looks fantastic, it’s received a huge graphical upgrade over the first game. The cars look sharp and detailed as do the tracks themselves. Being mainly a console gamer I was happy to learn that my Xbox 360 controller worked out of the box with no set-up or controller mapping to do.

So there I am, on the start line, there’s already fifty-odd cars racing around the circuit and they’re flying past me as I’m getting ready to go – fortunately you can’t hit other cars on the track, you drive straight through them. Then it’s my turn to go, I floor it off the line, turn a corner, hit a jump and fall straight into a ditch. That was my first experience of Trackmania.

The online multiplayer pivots on user created content. The game features a massive track designer, you can easily place blocks, tracks, scenery and other bits and bobs in order to create the craziest track possible. It’s very simple to create tracks, the game will do all the tricky stuff for you, allowing you to concentrate on the design. There’s also an advanced option where the track making professionals can loiter to make even more completed tracks, with even more tricky jumps, loops, wall climbs and so on.

Trackmania 2 Preview: TrackMania 2: Canyon

If you fancy a bit more customisation then you can also create a custom car. You pick a base model then choose the paint colour, wheel colour and decals to make your own snazzy racer, this is all cosmetic and doesn’t affect the gameplay at all. You can also crack the ‘shininess’ up to max to make a car Xzibit would be proud of. It’s important to note that your car won’t stay nice and shiny for long, the game has a full damage model but this is only cosmetic and won’t stop you from flying around corners and over jumps.

As I said, the game looks great and it ran perfectly on my PC, even on max settings. The controls are very arcadey, there’s only a few buttons you need to worry about, acceleration, brake steer and the all important reset button. Whilst you can’t fly around corners with the accelerator on the floor, tapping the brake will send you into a drift and with a bit of practice you’ll be flying through the tracks in no time.

The only thing that will hold you back will be staying on the track. As the tracks are fan-made you can expect that they will be pretty crazy. You’ll come across massive jumps, loops, wall climbs and whatever else the community can come up with. You’ll fall off the track, a lot, but that’s part of the fun of Trackmania. I fell off the track more times than I can count but with a quick press of the reset button you’ll be back on the track, ready to tackle the section you just failed on.

Trackmania 3 Preview: TrackMania 2: Canyon

After you’ve set up your track and your car you can set up your own server. Here you can choose which tracks you want to use, how many players and what gametype to play – or you can create your own. Of course, you don’t have to set up your own server, there’s already a massive selection to choose from if you just want to get into the game. The gametypes I played all seem to be time based, whoever gets round the track the quickest wins.

Games like this all depend on the community, if they don’t support it then it won’t last long but that doesn’t seem to be the case here. Even in the beta there’s hundreds of people playing and tons of servers and custom tracks. If you can get a group of friends together then this could be a game you’re playing for years to come.

The game is part of the Maniaplanet network who are also currently working on Shootermania and Questmania. These are similar to Trackmania except they are FPS and RPG based games instead of a racer. If Trackmania is anything to by then these are definitely worth looking out for in the future.

Trackmania is released on 14/09/11. If you pre-order now then you’ll be given access to the Multiplayer Beta so you can try it out for yourself. Pre-order from here.