TrackMania Nations Forever (TMF) is a freeware racing game that distinguishes itself by way of its impossible stunt driving. It can be played both single player and online, and was designed to be widely accessible. This game runs on the Microsoft Windows platform.
A fast paced game, TMF has players racing through some of the most complex tracks I’ve ever seen.
It has attracted a truly international following. But fans of racing games have little tolerance for lackluster titles, and can drop one just as fast as they picked it up.
In a genre of fierce competition, can TMF make the grade, or does it owe its popularity to its lack of price?.
We’ll start with some notes on this one, below:
- Controls: with simple directional controls, it’s very easy to get into the action. The arrow buttons are all you’ll need to use; up accelerates, left and right turn, and back brakes. A game of simple controls and arcade physics, the challenge of TMF comes from its insane track layouts. Starting off simple and friendly, the game quickly becomes more complex. More advanced tracks have loops, banks, off road sections, and jumps that would make even Evil Knievel balk. Pulling many of these stunts off is rewarding itself.
- Game modes: TMF offers both single and multiplayer modes. A particular quirk of the game design is that it is impossible to collide with other players; every car but yours is a ghost car (strange as it sounds, it means two cars can drive right through each other; visually they appear solid, but they are not physically there – see screenshot to the right). In multiplayer this can be somewhat off-putting, although strangely it probably is a good design decision. In single player mode you have to unlock more advanced tracks by winning on easier ones, while all tracks are available in multiplayer.
- The Graphics: TMF is graphically a nice looking game. Not one to over do the details, it offers little in the way of particle effects, vehicle damage, or lighting. But racing is not about bells and whistles, it’s about speed. In a game where taking a turn just 5 mph too fast means a one way trip off the race track, TMF’s graphics do a excellent job of making the extreme racing feel plausible. Cars look nice, and the ability to customize your paint job will appeal to some. Even more importantly, the stunts and flips look absurdly cool.
- Sound effects: are nothing special, largely on par with other recent racers. Directional audio plays a important role, and hearing an opponent gaining on you is the kind of tension genre fans appreciate. Your engine idles as your sail through the air, and when you miss a landing the resulting sound really is a bit painful. As arcade sound, its more about fun than realism. The music is good, with synthesized songs derived from a variety of musical influences. Some gamers appreciate (and abuse) the ability to customize the sound of their car’s horn.
- In-game editor: is available that allows users to create their own tracks. You can download user created tracks in the forum and other places.
The verdict: with easy, no email confirmation, push button registration, and rapid multiplayer matching, very little stands between you and the game. That’s a good thing, since TMF is a great deal of fun. Winning matches is a shout out load kind of event, and pulling a stunt off delivers a rush. Even those who typically avoid racing games will enjoy TMF, if just for the air time. Frustrating moments do pop up, with some tracks seemingly the creations of unhinged madmen. But the over all picture here is that TMF is a hugely enjoyable game.
There’s a lot to master here, and replayability abounds. It’s easy to get into TMF, and a huge number of others have come before you (more than 3 million). In multiplayer arena’s you’ll be racing against legions of other online racers. Gamers who like collection games and stat tracking should dig the medal system, the game keeps tabs on your track-to-track performance (gold, silver, and bronze).
TMF is highly recommend. What it lacks in graphical sheen, it more than makes up for in accessibility, and simple fun. As a freeware game, it exceeded my expectations. Anyone who thinks zooming around Dr. Seuss inspired tracks at odometer shattering speeds sounds like fun should check this piece of freeware out.
Compatibility: Windows 2000/XP/XP-x64/Vista. Requires a 16 MB DirectX 9.0c or better compatible graphics card.
Go to the game page to download the latest version (approx 504 megs).