“Great editors and decent racing awaits you with United Forever.”
As a loyal Trackmania player for several years now, I feel that it is only right that I review Trackmania United Forever. United Forever is essentially all Trackmania games combined into one and tweaked slightly. Trackmania Nations, Original, and Sunrise are all rolled into one to provide a a very impressive amount of variety for the player.
The draw of the Trackmania games has always been creation. While Trackmania’s creation tools aren’t on the same level as Little Big Planet or ModNation Racers, it’s still very enjoyable. Players can paint their cars and design their own race tracks based on several themes provided. More experienced users will be able to import their own cars into the game or create mods for tracks, almost creating new environments for track building.
The car painter is interesting, as it lets you alter the colour scheme of your car as well as place decals and stickers anywhere you see fit. Those who are familiar with the game’s file formats can easily add in their own materials for use in the car painter, allowing you to design an infinite number of liveries for whichever vehicle you choose. The sky is essentially the limits with this editor.
The larger and more popular editor is the track designer. While a little more limited, it is by far the more enjoyable of the two. The track designer gives you blocks to build your tracks with that you can form straights, checkpoints, chicanes, and death defying jumps and loops with, and you are free to lump these blocks together to form a race track in the respectable amount of space you are given to work with. Though the pieces you are given to work with are somewhat limited and sometimes lacking in variety, your creativity will usually find ways to make up for this.
Themes available in the track builder are bay, coast, desert, island, rally, snow, and stadium. All behave very differently from one another and offer different challenges. Insane speeds can be reached in the arcade inspired bay, island, and stadium environments while many players will find the coast environment to control almost like a demanding sim racer in which timing every tap of the brake is vital. It’s great that the environments are so varied in Trackmania, and players who enjoy all sorts of racing games will have fun with at least one of the themes. The Need for Speed fan in me loves blasting through the cityscape setting of the bay environment while the Gran Turismo enthusiast enjoys the slower, more difficult driving approach to the coast environment. Even the rally environment, despite being far too twitchy and fast, is pretty entertaining. Most players will be familiar with the stadium environment which was popularized by Trackmania Nations.
Gameplay is difficult to judge since it is essentially what you decide to make it. You never have to make a specific style of race track and are free to make them as calm or as wild as you want. I will say that everything you are allowed to do in United Forever plays well and is fun. There aren’t many downsides to the gameplay as long as you set out to do something that you feel you should enjoy, which is usually always what happens with me when I sit down to play.
There isn’t much in terms of sounds. Whatever environment you’re playing in determines what your vehicle sounds like since it assumes that you will be using the default vehicle assigned to the environment. For example, the snow environment uses large racing trucks, so even if you set your vehicle model to a little buggy, it will still make truck noises and behave like a one as well. Music isn’t too bad in Trackmania. It’s fairly generic sounding and you can tell that it’s there just to kill the moments of silence and make racing feel a little more exciting, so in truth it does get the job done despite being unremarkable.
Trackmania as a racing game isn’t stellar by any means. If you want AI, you won’t find it here. You can race against saved ghosts and online opponents, but both are basically “images” or whatever they are based off of. There is no collision detection with other vehicles, meaning you can take whatever racing line you want without worry of hitting someone. Because of this, when you play online it feels more like you are playing with ghosts from other people instead of actually racing them, even though that is what you are really doing.
There’s not really much else to say about the game. It’s a mediocre racing game with great gameplay and lacking modes of play, but it has tremendously fun editors that most people should have fun with. Try out Trackmania Nations and see if you like it since it is free, and if you enjoy that then set down the cash for United Forever as you will be multiplying your gameplay options by six.