Hey again, this is a special treat for you all. You see, this game is free :) If this stuff sounds even a little bit fun, you're not losing much by heading over to www.trackmania.com to grab it, or if you have Steam installed, just click here to install it directly.
Trackmania Nations was released for free in 2006. Trackmania is a hugely customizable racing game that mixes stunt car racing with stuff like loops and trick jumps in sometimes wild tracks with very competitite online time trials, which has kept this game of interest even until today.
Trackmania Nations delivers the thrill of perfecting your lap times and those track records down to the millisecond. The driving is completely arcadelike with you controlling a F1 car (more cars if you upgrade to Trackmania Nations Forever, for a price), and its just you against the clock. In singleplayer and multiplayer both there are other drivers, but while you see them on the track as you drive, there is no collision detection at all.
The game offers single player trials that have you fighting the clock to overcome increasingly tricky tracks will test your abilities to even make it through a round, once you get a bit further into it. There's nothing special to this game mode at all, its just you, the track,and the clock. The fun lies in the complexity of the tracks and that unforgiving timer that just forces you to try again until you can beat the tracks in time for the Gold.
Multiplayer is where the game shines, even in the free Trackmania Nations version. As soon as you hop online you are introduced to tracks each crazier than the last, thanks to an already established game community who have taken the track designs to heights you wouldn't believe (literally). Depending on what servers you join you may find the tracks too hard to navigate even, but most servers tend to rotate tracks that are more or less understandeable.
Keeping the whole online thing going is an online ranking mode and those with a strong competitive mindset will get a kick out of perfecting the tracks and trying to crush the track records.
Presentation wise the interface is fairly clean, although navigating leaderboards and servers can be a little confusing at first. Graphically there is nothing too fancy schmancy going on, this is after all a 5 year old game. Still, despite not looking awfully advanced it hasn't aged badly either, and for a game like this that requires millisecond precision I'd rather prefer 60+ frames per second than eyecandy.
Overall this game while old now is still going strong with very alive competitive online play. I have not tried the upgraded Trackmania United Forever version myself but it adds a number of new cars but more importantly several new track designer enviroments other than the "stadium" set included in Nations. For a free game, its definitely something I'd recommend checking out.
Final verdict: 7 / 10
+ Thrilling competitive play online
- Single player while okay for practicing loses interest fairly quickly
- Slightly aged graphics and presentation