The racing game equivalent of Super Mario Maker returns with a free-to-play remake that has a controversial subscription plan.
There can be no bigger red flag for a video game than finding out it’s free. Beyond promotions meant to entice you to use one shop or another, finding out a game is free from the start is a guarantee that there’s some kind of nefarious hidden catch. If it’s a mobile game it’s no doubt microtransactions but if it’s an ostensibly ordinary PC or console game it’s often something more complicated, like battle passes or, as is the case for Trackmania, subscriptions.
The Trackmania series has been around for getting on close to two decades and yet we’re willing to bet that most people have still never heard of it. There hasn’t been a new entry since 2016’s unfairly ignored Trackmania Turbo but now long-time developer Nadeo is back with a reboot of the whole franchise, and it’s still the best racer you’ve never played. It’s just there’s more caveats than there used to be.
Although at face value it may look like a generic 90s style arcade racer Trackmania is actually a lot weirder than that. A cross between Stunt Car Racer and Roller Coaster Tycoon is how we used to describe it, since there’s also a strong customisation and construction element to the series. Although Mario Maker on wheels is probably the best contemporary comparison, including the fact that the community-made levels are one of the biggest draws and the level design makes no logical sense.