Tuesday, April 24

TrackMania: Sunrise-Ghost Cars

TrackMania was released for the PC in Winter of 2003. The sequel, TrackMania: Sunrise was released May 2005. Now a free expansion pack is available, dubbed eXtreme. All were developed by Nadeo. A future TrackMania title is also in development, this one called United. Named so because of its unifying online features. But for now lets talk about Sunrise and eXtreme. First though, watch this TrackMania: Sunrise eXtreme trailer, featuring the awesome song Final Countdown by Europe.
Go Speed Racer! Go!

Now that you've seen the awesomeness that is TrackMania, lets talk about its design. The game is multiplayer, you may have noticed. You also may have noticed that all cars are ghosts. There is absolutely no collision detection for any car, meaning you can't hit, run into, or bump other racers. Think about that for a moment and make note of your opinion. Lets us read a quote from a review, shall we, from GamersHell:
The biggest flaws with Trackmania Sunrise are, like its strengths, in its gameplay. Not being able to bump into other racers during a match is highly irritating, and with some of the insane tracks you'll come across during your playing experience this borders on criminal: These tracks were MADE for insane multi-car pileups and arrogant mid-air bump offs, but you'll never see either in this game. A gigantic opportunity lost, and easily the biggest flaw in the entire game. Racing is not, and will never be a solo affair, and putting the other racers in as non-interactive ghosts is pointless – Why even add them at all? Just race against a list of times, which is essentially what you are doing anyway.
Do you agree with this statement? Hit detection would give TrackMania a slightly more Burnout flair. But I actually disagree with this concept, and therefore like the direction Nadeo has taken. Trackmania is a fast paced game, and, there were at least 16 racers on that track in the trailer, all bunched together. What sort of chaos would ensue from collision? And, to what degree would collision effect a car? Would it bounce far, or only nudge it? But for TrackMania specifically, there is one big reason I'm fond of ghost cars. That is the focus on skilled driving and course maneuvering. The tracks in TrackMania, are, well, manical. The whole point is to drive way to fast on unrealistic roads, taking insane curves and flying off of jumps and loops. Car collision would halt this flow of speed. Furthermore, racing online is a test and challenge of course competance and racing skill compared directly against other players. I also disagree that TrackMania's online is the same as time trials. The sense of racing against real people in real-time commands nerves that a ghost replay cannot offer. Put simply, it is fun to race other people, comparing moment by moment who is winning, always worrying about the next curve, knowing you have to take the turn just right. Plus, there are always bragging rights post-the checkered flag.
I have a soft spot for tail-light streaks
Sources
IGN.com for Information and Pictures
Download the TrackMania: Sunrise demo at the official Nadeo Site
( really, its awesome).

Loop

How do you feel about the lack of collision detection in Sunrise?
How do you think other racing games you've played would play differently with ghost cars as opposed to hit detection?

2 comments:

  1. well... i played TMN and now TMNF and i feel like the stadium environment wouldn't be possible with collision detection. Yes, it's is time trial, but when you are racing against the world's top 5 you feel you have to improve, you have to do something!

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