TrackMania 2: Canyon Preview (PC)

Before ModNation Racers and LittleBigPlanet, there was TrackMania. It was simple, addictive, and it came with a ton of tools to allow people to create and share their own tracks. eight years and 9 million players later, developer Nadeo are preparing to roll out TrackMania2: Canyon, and at a recent Ubisoft showcase we were able to get some hands on time and put the game through its paces.

Look at how Canyon-y everything is...
It's interesting that Nadeo don't see this as a 'proper' sequel, with TrackMania "squared" simply being an improvement as opposed to an evolution on the original formula. You'd could argue that actual sequels have done less for a franchise than Canyon has, but to be honest it doesn't matter what they call it - so far it's looking like the content and infrastructure is going to be there to make it well worth the money.

The improvements being brought to Canyon mainly revolve around three main areas. Graphically: the game has been seriously improved. The environments look gorgeous, the detail is fantastic, and the overall quality is improved. As the name suggests, the theme of this game is 'Canyons', and Nadeo have put a lot of work in making it feel like you're racing in the scars of the world. Not quite to the same standard as current AAA PC titles, however everything has been optimised in this game, so you should at least get a highly defined and smooth experience.

Creation has probably received the most love. There are now reportedly 237 different blocks in the game for you to use in creating tracks, and the tools for creation have been enhanced. You can also now create your own custom game modes, although no news on what the exact parameters will be at the moment. You can also create scripts and triggers for in game events, and there are even tools to package any and all of these customisations together into 'content packs' that you can then share online.
Careful, starting again is a bitch
The final area deals with the online portion of the game. Nadeo are finally starting to roll out their ManiaPlanet online framework, which will span all of their planned titles. ManiaPlanet provides full online functionality, and allows players to create their own online events with a considerable degree of customisation, such as music track lists, votes, leaderboards , dedicated servers, and a whole host of other options. Sadly we couldn't explore this portion properly today, as due to the nature of the event all of the gameplay was localised.

In terms of pure gameplay, little has changed. It's still the basic controls for accelerations, braking, movement and reset, although the cars have been designed to 'feel' more real, more powerful, and there's even damage for cars now. Damage doesn't affect the speed or the handling of the car however, it's purely for aesthetics. The 'Time Attack' set-up is still the main aim, and is as addictive as ever. How can I shave off those last few seconds in order to beat my opponent? How can I attack that corner more smoothly? Why do I always end up landing on my roof? Who the hell put that there!?

The most exciting thing about this game however doesn't really have anything to do with the game itself, but the franchise. Being the first 'Mania' game, TrackMania is almost being used as a prototype for the entire Mania franchise. Now that ManiaPlanet is out, expect to see more movement on projects like ShootMania and QuestMania, and expect Canyon to be a prototype for many Mania concepts. We're told there will be post-release support, although in what form is a little unclear right now. Nadeo's main philosophy is to only provide features or experiences that players can't already give themselves, and with such a heightened degree of control now available, it almost seems as if there's little left extra to add.
And for the first time ever - Night Time

The fact that this isn't being treated as a true sequel will help the fact that it really isn't a true sequel-although whether that will affect the price is anyone's guess. Still TrackMania has always been about putting control in the hands of the player, and Canyon is going to have an unprecedented level of customization and networking. What changes there are are also more than welcome, and this is really is shaping up to be one cracking game. ManiaPlanet and TrackMania "Squared" are opening the doors for Nadeo's Master Mania Plan, and we can't wait to see the shape of things to come. Keep an eye on this one folks, it'll be worth it. TrackMania2: Canyon is due out on PC in September 2011, with a closed beta due to start soon.

Top Game Moment: Finding the perfect route for the best time. There's nothing quite like it.


By steven101x1 (SI Member) on Jul 31, 2011
Not a true sequel = $15 game :D
By Caedes (SI Veteran Newbie) on Aug 25, 2011
My younger brother is addicted to this game, I never understood why ...
By starch (SI Newbie) on Sep 02, 2011
Ohh, Night time.