Trackmania was one of the surprise packages of 2004. A game from a little known developer managed to gain a massive following and thus an expansion pack was created. Well now a full blown sequel is on the way in Sunrise, a game which keeps the core intact but upgrades the graphics and gives players a lot more items to play around with. We recently went hands on with a preview build of the game and came away impressed. Its high paced action, quick reload times and overall unique style really is a refreshing racer for the PC.
Sunrise will feature three game modes to play around with and one technical mode. The game modes include; challenge, puzzle, and platform. The challenge mode is pretty much replicated from the original game. You have a track in front of you and must complete that track in a time limit to win either a gold, silver or bronze. Depending on what you win determines the number of 'coppas' you get, which are used to create new content for the game. The great thing about this game mode is it is so quick. It's not a race in that there is now circuit, it's more like a small rally stage with some jumps and loops to try and catch you out. However the best part is the reset button which puts you back on the starting line instantly after a mishap, it is this that makes you keep playing with a 'just one more try' mentality flowing through the mind.
The other two game modes are some of the most unique modes to make a racing game ever. As Florent explained in our interview about the game, the platform game mode can be compared to Mario and Crash Bandicoot and he's not wrong. That's right, the Daytona Car may have been in Virtua Fighter, but Mario now has competition in the form of a car. This is some of the most insane gameplay you will ever see in a racing game and had us literally glued to the seat trying over and over to complete some truly ridiculous challenges such as jumping from one ramp to another, side by side at speeds eclipsing Formula 1. However the concept seems to work extremely well and Florent and his team at Nadeo has created one of the best game concepts for quite some time.
Puzzle is also an interesting mode. The game places you in the editor and gives you a set number of pieces to create a track with. Not only is this mode interesting but also acts somewhat as a tutorial for the editor which is not hard to use. The editor is easy to use and at any time you can jump in and race it without a hint of load time other then the race countdown. The developers have also placed a strong emphasis on community, building in a file manager into the GUI to manage tracks and displaying name of track and developer to give people who go to the effort a bit of fame.
Visually the game is looking extremely impressive despite the lack of licensed cars and damage. We only got to see a few makes of car in the preview build, two fast cars and a 4WD style car but were impressed by all. The physics of the game make it incredibly fast to play and the sense of speed is on par with Burnout 3. It is a game that you put the pedal to the metal and fly, without braking much, but it's more complex than that. Many jumps have to be judged correctly, otherwise you can overshoot the platform or miss the road altogether. The game already has a fantastic soundtrack which will no doubt be a boost upon release.
Trackmania Sunrise continues where Power Up left off but adds a few more features such as racing at night, at sunrise, sunset and of course in the day. There is also a lot more detail to the game including the ability to customise your cars in terms of paintjobs. With the new game modes and online play, Sunrise is set to be a beautiful sight on store shelves come April 8th.