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TrackMania 2 Canyon Review

TrackMania 2 Canyon pack shot
Official Site:http://www.trackmania.com/
Release Date:September 14th, 2011 (UK)
Reviewer:Andrew Hemphill (Bandit)
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Name an addictive game. If you said 'World of Warcraft', you'd be right - but it's far from the only one. Take Trackmania 2: Canyon, for example. Ostensibly a racing game, is actually incredibly addictive, and dangerous if you're trying to be anywhere on time.

Building upon the venerable roots of the series, TM2 offers another plentiful helping of time trial madness, tasking the player with running the gauntlet down a huge number of gravity-defying, thrill-a-minute tracks, always chasing that elusive half-second that divides you from your friends. And although you're not directly racing said friend (which is a shame, admittedly) the constant challenge presented by the persistent leader-board and constantly evolving track selection will keep hardened racers going for hours.

Focusing mainly on a series of tracks built deep in heartland America (hence 'Canyon'), the game tasks the player with getting from A to B as fast as possible, either alone or competing against the 'ghosts' of players come before.

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While there is no physical car to race, chasing down that ghost can become an obsession. The tracks themselves, as befits the name of the game, are the true stars of the show. While they're all built on the same sort of theme - wide vistas, sprawling canyons and steep drops - they're as varied as they come.

Featuring the sort of gravity-defying madness one might expect to see in a chase movie, Trackmania's circuits will have you hurling your car through ridiculous loops, stupidly long drifts and too many jumps to count.

It's a good thing, then, that when you inevitably mess up - and send your car hurtling to the bottom of a canyon - tapping the Enter key will put you back on the start line instantly. It's also dangerously addictive.

Just watch how sneakily the hours trickle by as you gradually get addicted to the high-octane action. It's maddening. It doesn't help that most of the tracks take less than 40 seconds to complete - it's like powerdisking a box set of 24 - you have to play another one.

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The game comes with a wide selection of tracks to try your luck on, and many, many more are available for download, produced by the huge Trackmania community. Of course, if you want to build some tracks of your own, TM2 includes a robust and powerful construction tool, filled to the brim with stupidly long curves and corkscrews.

This system, however, is pretty spotty at times, and difficult to use at first. There's very little tuition involved, so the learning curve is pretty steep, and the sandbox play-set takes quite some getting used to.

However, if track-building isn't your thing, Trackmania's community is what really brings the game to life. This community allows you the chance to try yourself against some of the best names in arrow-key car racing on the internet, making friends as you go. All this is controlled through the game's in-box communications system, which is a little like Facebook for Trackmania fans. From a central hub you can chat, make friends and race against your peers. It's a clever device that works really well, adding considerable length to the game.

Outside of this interface, which is a pretty crowded affair, TM2 offers some pretty good visuals, with very little lag or texture pop-in. While the game runs well on low graphical settings, whack it up to 11 and you're in for a pretty wild ride.

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Outside of this interface, which is a pretty crowded affair, TM2 offers some pretty good visuals, with very little lag or texture pop-in. While the game runs well on low graphical settings, whack it up to 11 and you're in for a pretty wild ride.

The cars (or rather 'car' - singular) is not massively important, and though the game features a pretty neat customisation section, which allows you to import your own pictures and plaster them on your wheel trims, the racing is what it's all about.

The controls are simple and effective, and utilising the arrow buttons for steering and throttle makes things incredibly simple - a good half-hour of racing will get you used to TM2's speed and intensity. I personally favoured a control pad for my racing, as I just worked better with that control set, especially on some of the fiendish 'black' tracks, which kept me hitting Enter for a fair old while. Sound-wise, the game is pretty solid. While there's a few trance anthems included in the box, the game allows you to replace those with your own music, which is a nice touch.

The cars all sound good and meaty too, and watching the graphics engine model your wreck as it ploughs off that stupidly high drop to the sound of revving engines and screeching metal is always pretty thrilling - and you hit Enter.... and you start again.


All in all, Trackmania 2: Canyon, is as an addictive, time trial-based racer as you can get. Offering a huge number of tracks in the box, and many more being designed by the community - and maybe yourself - there's a lot to love here. Just try not to let time run away with you as you hit Enter... and try again.

The bottom line
8.0 / 10

Good stuff

  • Addictive, intense gameplay
  • Good graphics and sound
  • Ridiculous, varied maps

Not so good stuff

  • Difficult map builder
  • No in-game opponents to challenge
  • Bit repetitive

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