Time to get loopy in your coupe.
Note: This review is based on the PlayStation VR version of Trackmania Turbo VR. It is also available for both HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.
Trackmania Turbo VR is, in one word, intense. The larger-than-life tracks, winding wallrides, and magnet corkscrews are taken to the next level when your face is stuck right behind your car.
Never before has Trackmania been officially released for VR, and I'm sure many fans of the series always dreamed of what it would look like. Well, it's here...sort of. This free add-on to Trackmania Turbo brings some of the best parts of the standard game to VR while leaving others behind.
No, the entire Trackmania Turbo game is not playable in VR other than in cinema mode. Instead, you get a special section accessible through the main menu that has a limited amount of content. This review will focus on Trackmania Turbo VR and whether or not it's worth buying the entire game if you're looking to get your hands on the VR part only.
Which side of the track are you on?
When it comes to racing games, you usually see fans divided. There are those who absolutely adore hardcore simulations where you can adjust every last nut and bolt on your car, and there are those who love the thrill of a car that seems to stick to the track as you go flying around corners.
The Trackmania series has always been about bite-sized races where the latter rules apply. Tricks and acceleration really matter, while delicate handling and braking can be almost completely ignored. There's no doubt about it — this is an arcade racer.
The Trackmania Turbo VR campaign sends you on a time-trial quest where it's you against the track. In total, there are four locations — Grand Drift Canyon, Down and Dirty Valley, Rollercoaster Lagoon, and International Stadium — with 10 tracks each. Of those 40 tracks, 32 must be unlocked by winning medals.
At the start of each new race, you're shown the time required to grab bronze, silver, and gold medals. You can choose a medal to race for, in which a ghost car representing where your car should be to win the medal will also be present on the track. Don't worry — if you beat the gold-medal time on a bronze-medal run, you'll still be awarded the gold. There's also an option to race with no ghost car if you'd rather not know how ahead or behind the time you are.
At the end of each race, you're shown three levels of rankings based on your performance: World, Country, and State (in my case, Province). It's pretty great seeing how you stack up against other people who live near you, and it is motivation to do just a bit better the next time around.
Unlocking the last two tracks in each location requires you to have won the gold medal on all other tracks, so it can take awhile to actually race on every available track. Despite this, in about three hours I had unlocked and won gold on all but one track.
Take it to the arcade
Jumping into the arcade mode gives you three coins in your pocket you can use to record the best time possible. You pick a track previously unlocked in campaign mode, you run through it three times, and you input your initials to go up on the scoreboard.
This is where things get good. You now hand the PSVR headset over to the next player and they repeat the process. It's basically like having an arcade in your living room, and it's a ton of fun when you have a group of people in the same room. In my opinion, the local leaderboard is a great way to get your friends involved in VR and is a feature that is sorely lacking from many VR titles.
Your main foe is the track
We couldn't mention Trackmania without talking about the tracks. This selection has the usual zany stuff you find in Trackmania games, including magnet sections where you'll find yourself upside-down, brake sections where you have to rely on your previous momentum to remain in the race, and all kinds of loops, corkscrews, and airtime ramps that are oh-so-good in VR.
There are also a few offroad tracks where handling is a bit more important, but overall Trackmania Turbo VR remains true to its arcade-racer roots.
Room for improvement
When it comes to the camera, you'll either find yourself just behind and above your car or right at the nose. The switch only happens during some sections of track, and you have no choice in the matter. Cockpit view would have been nice, or at least the option to choose between third-person and nose view when you're flying down an especially intricate track.
One of the best parts of Trackmania games is the ability to create and share your own tracks with the community. While this aspect was originally going to be included in the VR version, it was scrapped somewhere along the line. Here's hoping it makes an appearance at some point in Trackmania Turbo VR's lifespan.
The single bug I found in my playthrough was one that caused my view to stay centered on wherever I was looking when I crossed the finish line. In the track selection menu everything was fine, but as soon as it got down to racing, the car wouldn be way over to my left. Resetting my view with the normal method did nothing, and I had to actually restart the HMD to get my view back to the center. This was not the drift problem some PSVR users experience, but was something to do with the actual game.
If you think you'll enjoy Trackmania Turbo on its own without VR — remember you can play in cinema mode in your headset which is almost as fun — this is a game well-worth your money. If you're looking to get a racing game built from the start specifically for VR, you'll be happier with something other than this $40 title.
Yes, there are 40 tracks to master, but they likely won't take you more than a few hours to unlock and complete. Arcade mode does add some replayability and has the awesome local leaderboard, but it will take Ubisoft implementing custom track-building and sharing into the VR section to turn this into a real gem.