Over the weekend I played Ubisoft's open beta for Trackmania Turbo for Xbox One, and as the title suggests I was underwhelmed. This is my first Trackmania game in the long series, so I know little to nothing outside of what I've read about the core mechanics, but I feel as though I can confidently say this game is not worth the $40 it will run at retail.
Let's start with the main draw of the game, the track maker...
If you couldn't tell from the video above, I'm not someone who's creatively inclined when it comes to building levels. While other level creators like Super Mario Maker eased the accessibility of level creation and even made it fun, Trackmania felt like Physics homework. It wasn't fun, it wasn't easy, and most of the things I wanted to do were blocked by the terrain when all I wanted was flat land.
I did play "some" good creative levels in the community levels, but they were few and far between and farrrr more complex than what I accomplished in 3 minutes. While the level creation didn't seem too hard for others, if Ubisoft is relying on a small group of dedicated players to consistently make great levels for us average joes this games community is going to die off quick. For the main draw of the game...this mechanic needs some work, which it likely won't get given the games window for release.
So how does the rest of the game play? I tried several times to get online and never had any success so I can't speak to that. This left me with campaign, which is essentially a series of time trials between loading screens. The video doesn't lie. My first track I spent 30 seconds in a loading screen to do a 40 second time trial. 30 seconds for a track that had one big jump into a finish line. The waiting is even longer for more impressive levels, that even if they are in race format don't exceed 2 minutes in length. Very disappointing overall.
Controls felt very stiff. I'll admit I'm not the best racing gamer, but sometimes there was literally no way to complete a level in a timely fashion without colliding into walls. There's also several instances where due to the sandbox nature of the level building I fell off the map and could openly drive the terrain. It wasn't fun, it was annoying...especially when it happened on the campaign levels! Those are supposed to be the ones with superior design!
Lets hit on the final sin that left the worst taste in my mouth...the customization. The game boasts that you can customize your own vehicle to have your own personal flair on your car! What that really means is that you can unlock around 40-50 predetermined color sets with the option of about 25 (not included flags of nations) decals to put on your car. OH and if you're a Ubisoft member you get "special" access to exclusive colors that looked just about as good...or worse than the initial options.
Trackmania Turbo releases 3/24 on most platforms.