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Quick Look: TrackMania Nations Forever

I spent yesterday home sick from work, and had still not yet picked up a copy of Gran Turismo Prologue. This could have made for a dull day indeed. The I remembered, a much less hyped, or heralded, or realistic racer was available to sate my need for speed.

TrackMania Nations Forever was available for download, free of charge for your windows PC. If you are unfamiliar with the TrackMania series, I suggest you take a look below:

As you can probably already gather, this game is not about realism. It's not about car damage physics. It's not about having an opportunity to 'drive' cars that you or I will never be able to afford in real life.

What it is about, is simple unadulterated fun. (Remember when games were all about the fun?)

So after a relatively painless download and install procedure (which is even less painless the faster your connection - I'm stuck with 1.5Mbps DSL), I fired it up.

If you have played any of the previous TM games before, you'll have little problem jumping right in. My last time playing was with the original TM Nations a few years ago, and it was like the proverbial bicycle riding - once you learn, you never forget. Create an online account, log in, and choose single player or online. If you're new to the game I'd at least try a few of the singleplayer maps just to get a feel for how TM 'works'. Once you get the hang of control, which can be handled via Keyboard, or joystick/gamepad, I highly recommend jumping into the online racing. There is a ranking system for TMNF's single and multiplayer modes, but I have to confess I haven't paid much attention to there intricacies.

Courses in TM basically boil down to 2 types: Point-to-Point, and circuits. The fun of the game really comes into play in that Reality is not a consideration. These are the racetracks you fantasized about building with your old Hotwheels cars. Insane Loops, ramps, and obstacle courses that happily ignore realistic physics and safety standards. Your mission is simple complete the course in the quickest possible time, while making sure to pass all checkpoints on the course. The game also ships with a course editor, so you can try your hand at tormenting your fellow racers if you are so inclined. When playing online, you'll find that most servers a running custom courses which definitely helps to keep the game fresh.

The part that you will either love or hate is how multiplayer is handled. Essentially, a track is loaded, and a time limit for that round is set. Your goal is to clock your best time before time expires. With some tracks you'll have the opportunity to take multiple tries, on others, you'll be lucky to finish the course completely. You can view other racers on the course, but they don't actually have any effect on you. You are all essentially racing against the clock. While the notion of being able to drive right through one of your competitors without will no doubt bother some, it does offer up several advantages when considering online play:
1. Lag is irrelevant. It can make for some odd visuals with how competitor cars are seen on the track, but otherwise your net connection won't lose you a race.
2. It's pretty difficult to be a griefer when you can't smash other people off the road just to be a dick.
Races are generally only a few minutes long, and the variety of courses I encountered on just a handful of servers in a few hours of play was quite good.

TMNF is certainly not going to supplant the Gran Turismos of the world, but if you like your racing a little - actually A LOT more arcade-like, or just want a change of pace from the norm, you could do a lot worse than to grab TMNF - the price is right. You can get it from the TrackMania Website
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About Zer0 H0urone of us since 9:42 PM on 02.11.2008

About Me...

I'm closer to 40 than I am to 30 (a lot closer), and reside currently in Phoenix, AZ, where daylight savings time is but a figment of the imagination. I grew up and lived my first 30 years in Pittsburgh, PA, and I still consider it my "Home Town" even though the place looks less and less familiar every time I go back for a visit. I have degrees in Video Production (never used it), and Multimedia Technology (used it in an offhanded kind of way), and usually make a living dealing with computers and the people who use them.

About Me and the things I'm into...

I'm into video games, natch, and I'll expand upon that in the next section. I'm into Pinball as well, and finally achieved a long time goal of owning my own table - a 1995 Bally Attack From Mars. I love music - GOOD MUSIC, which I have discovered exists in almost every conceivable genre. I'll throw down some favorites in a bit as well. I used to be a vacuum for pop culture, but I've just sort of soured on a lot of it lately, so I'm a lot more spotty bast the mid-late 90's.

About Me and Video Games...

Been playing them since the days of discreet logic games (That means Space War, Pong and similar ancient arcade and home systems to you youngins). My first home system was a dedicated Atari Stunt Cycle, and not too long after I received an Atari VCS, and later moved to gaming on a C-64, Apple ][e, and Amiga 500 before moving to a proper PC. So yeah, over 30 years of wasting my time with video games, and not a single regret thus far - except Unreal Tournament 2003 - that game blew.

About Stuff I Play...

Team Fortress 2
Flash Puzzle Games

Guitar Hero 3
Almost every demo they put up on the PS store

Carnival Games (seriously. it was a gift, but I do play it)
A smattering of VC games

About the tunes I listen to...

I spent my undergrad years in college working at the University radio station, where I had stints as Music Programming Director, and Station Manager. As such, I am an unrepentant music snob. That doesn't mean I don't listen to some crappy music, it just means I'm more likely to admit it's crappy than you are. I'm pretty open to most genres, but 'pop' music in almost any form (be it the traditional top 40 variety, or what sadly passes for country or R&B these days), is mostly annoying. Progressive Rock / Metal, Old School Hip-Hop, and Hard Bop Jazz, would probably be my top three. Lately I've become obsessed with Mashups, or Bastard Pop, as it is also commonly known, where DJ's take 2 or more songs from multiple artists and remix them into entirely new works. You really haven't lived until you hear Pink's "Get This Party Started" vocal laid over Black Sabbath's "Supernaut". And that's just the proverbial tip of the iceberg...