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Trackmania United Forever

Recently managed to get a hold on this game, so I thought I'd try it out. Judging by covers and other medial elements it seemed pretty good, but I've played a lot of crappy racing games recently, so I wasn't too overly exited about it. I pop up the game window and WHAM it runs over me like a raging bull, like a terrifying tyhoon, ripping old one hundred year old oak treas clean out of the ground and shredding people to pieces, traps me in an empty vortex where no time exists for 49 minutes (was only planning to spend five while taking a break from other more important activities). Needless to say so, I think I found a new favorite game! :D

The amount of tracks you can play is stunning, and there's a fair share of cars too, which you can paint according to your liking or switch built-in themes on. Tracks are divided up into different game modes. There's puzzle, stunt, platform & racing, and I think the different modes pretty much explain themselves. In each mode there are a number of flags ranging from white to some other color (maybe red), a total of at least five for each mode. With each flag comes a new set of tracks, all nicely divided up into different themes (winter, desert, etc). The amount of tracks vary between game modes, but if we take racing as an example, there are maybe ten themes with four tracks each, under one flag. So all-together, that should be at least 200 tracks just in racing mode!! Quick note, racing mode has the most tracks, but still, that's an amazing amount of tracks! And as if that wasn't enough, the game is divided up into three separate worlds, so that's 200x3 ... just for racing. On each track you can gain either a bronze, a silver or a gold medal. Bronze is easy to get, Silver is easy to get as long as you don't crash, Gold is a symbol of a perfect run - no crashes - no wasted corners - no *insertqualificationofchoicehere*. A new track within the current theme is unlocked each time you earn bronze, and it's easy to earn, so the achievement system works great, and even if you play track after track aiming at only bronze the game will guarantee you at least a few days of great gaming.

But why end it there? The main feature of the game is online. You can race against other people on the standard tracks, you can download user-made tracks, you can make your own tracks easily with the built-in editor and upload them too! If you can't get online, you can play over a LAN with a bunch of friends, or locally using the same computer (a feature I miss in most racing games for PC). The interface is smooth, controls are easy, handling is realistic enough, and fun, a good balance, the graphics are good in a friendly three-dimensional manner and the game runs fast even with the crappy video/graphic cards I have. It's the perfect example of a game made compatible with virtually all systems, with virtually all the features a game within it's genre would need. If you're looking for brutal Flatout style racing or blazing fast Need For Speed mode, this is not what you are looking for. It's more like.... Mario Cart, but without the weapons, it's just a fun well-made time-waster in racing format, for any amount of players using any amount of computers. I'll leave it alone until the weekend, but when the weekend arrives, woo, time to get Gold on everything... and invite some buddies over to playday.

Btw, the tracks are relatively short, but the surrounding environment is vast, and you can drive all over it outside the racetrack if you feel the urge to... not that it's much fun. If you drive long enough, you'll eventually reach the end, and it looks something like this:

All Goes Black

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