Trackmania 2 was officially announced at Festival du Jeu Vidéo 2010 in Paris. Developed by Nadeo for the PC, it is a full-fledged sequel to the popular online racing game TrackMania and its multiple expansions. It features an American desert style environment as the setting for high-speed multiplayer time trial races over insane, improbable, stunt filled tracks. Set the fastest time you can on user generated tracks while other peoples ghost cars try to beat you.
This is the first environment of 3 that are intended to be released for TM2, which itself just part of ManiaPlanet, whatever that turns out to be.
Trackmania 2 is a download-only game and is available only through its official website: http://www.trackmania.com/for the price of US$ 19.99. The game also relies on ManiaPlanet, a cross-game platform for all Nadeo games. A Nadeo rep stated that due to the heavy integration of Maniaplanet and Steam's current policy, the game won't be available on Valve's service at launch.
TM2 is all about getting through all the check points (in any order) and crossing the finish line in as little time as possible. The puzzle, stunts and platform modes of previous games in the series are gone here (though servers can still select stunt mode, no maps support it). You can race against other people but there is no contact, you’ll just pass straight through other drivers. Restarting is quick and painless, and slamming into walls will slow you down only temporarily.
Single player has you driving to beat predefined medal times on Nadeo designed courses racing against the medal ghosts or against other players' uploaded ghosts that you can download from the in game leader boards. To get yourself on the leader boards you need to set an official time which can only be done once every 5 minutes and costs a small amount of in game currency.
You can also play up to 4 players split screen.
By playing online you can join a server with up to 200 people (though ~80 is usually the most you’ll see) and watch them screw up and hit restart all around you in real time as they play. The usual time attack mode gives you 6 minutes to set your best time before moving on to the next track. Tracks are quickly downloaded from the server due to their block format and custom content (such as sign textures, music and custom car models) are streamed to you as you race. There are some variants to the format. Rounds has every player starting at the same time and the round ending a set time after the first person has crossed the finish or when everyone has finished/given up. Points are awarded based on position and the game ends when one person breaks the points limit. Laps is another game variant, it is for people who like NASCAR.
The tracks are full of stunts, loops, turbos and even wall-driving stretches. Tracks in TM are made by sticking together pre-made blocks, this makes the track editor very accessible and tens of thousands of user made tracks exist. File sizes are small and when you play online tracks will be uploaded to your computer automatically. Fan made track sharing websites like http://tm.mania-exchange.com/are also a thing.
Most servers are player run and heavily modded. They all have their own track selection, plug-ins for keeping track of local records, track ratings ("karma" in TM lingo) and whatever else. Jeff Gerstmann is currently (April 2012) running the Giant Bomb Official Classic server that serves up hot/dumb tracks in both senses of the word.
Scores and Rankings
All leader boards are broken down by World|Country|Region|Local Area, as well as buddy list rankings. There are a lot of different leader boards and things so I’m gonna break this down real deliberate like.
In the single player you earn medals by beating the stock tracks faster than the required times.
There is a leader board for the number of medals you have.
In single player you can set official times once every 5 minutes, your best official time is compared to other peoples best official times and you are awarded Skill Points (SP) based on the number of people you are faster than. The amount of SP you get increases exponentially as you get higher up the leader boards.
There are leader boards for the fastest times on each track and another leader board for the amount of SP people have.
In multiplayer Ladder Points (LP) are awarded at the end of each session, before the map changes. The number of ladder points you earn depends on the total ladder points of the people you beat. You earn nothing for beating people who are much lower ranked than you and a bunch if they have a lot of ladder points.
There is a leader board based on the amount of LP players have.
Note that it's impossible to earn above 60k LP on most servers, higher skill level servers must run Rounds game mode and limit the number of players to 12 to prevent abuse.
Individual servers may have leader boards that record your best time on each track and may also be plugged into a service that records the best times posted by people on any of the servers that use this service.
The final leader board is perhaps the dumbest, in any game, ever. In ManiaLotto you can spend your in game currency on tickets to win points, win a random amount of points and move up the special leader board of people who have won the most points randomly.
Planets - The currency in ManiaPlanet
Planets are an in game currency that can be earned through play, transferred between players and spent in player owned shops accessed using the in-game browser.
- Buying skins, car models, maps and probably other stuff from player run shops
- Making Official Runs in single player
- Making a server you own “official”
- Buying download links to reinstall the game
- Selling stuff in your shop
- Winning medals in Official runs
- Having people play on your official server
- Not playing for a while
The Handling Model(s)
The handling model (that is: the maths behind why the car moves like it does) in Canyon has aspects of the previous games in it and is firmly in the arcade tradition of car handling, favouring simple and predictable physics over complex simulation. The car is firmly stuck to the ground at all speeds except for when the player passes over a sudden change in gradient or uses the brake while turning. When this happens the car begins drifting, essentially using a completely different handling model to when the car has grip.
While drifting the direction the car is travelling changes in the direction of the drift, gradually straightening up, even when the player is not pressing anything. If the player steers in the direction of the drift they will tighten the turning circle at the cost of losing more speed. To exit the drift they need only steer in the opposite direction till the car is going straight again.
This binary switch between two different handling models isn't new in TM:Canyon, most obviously it appeared in the Island and Coast environments featured in TM:United, though in these environments loss of grip happened if you tried to turn too sharply while going faster than a certain speed as well as if you tapped the break. And the Stadium environment (TM:Nations) featured optional drifting that was often the best way to get around corners. The difference in TM:Canyon is that the drifting is easy and always the best option when you can’t go round the corner at full speed.
The game features at least one more handling model - this one takes over when you’re on a wall ride or doing a loop. The game keeps you moving in a completely straight line as you travel diagonally up the wall suggesting you have a lot of down force pushing you against it, but the car is slow to respond changes in steering and generally behaves very different to when you’re on flat ground, but not like you might expect.
Nadeo are historically pretty good about updating their stuff so any of this could turn up later, but a couple of things did not make it into the first release of TM2:Canyon that were promised (or at least heavily rumoured due to poor translations). Namely they are a co-op campaign and the ability to edit track pieces.
- OS: Windows XP / Vista / 7
- Processor: 1.5GHz Pentium / AMD Athlon 64
- RAM: 1 GB
- Graphics card: 256 MB, Pixel Shader 2.0 / Intel HD 2000 / Nvidia ION / AMD HD 6310
- Hard Drive: 1.5 Gb