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This review is for the Nintendo DS game, Trackmania, developed by Firebrand Games and published by Focus Home Interactive. As the title suggests, the Trackmania is a racing game.
When you start up this game, you will see that there are a large range of options. There are three different ways in which you can play the game, using the race mode, platform mode or the puzzle mode. The race mode is the standard mode, where you have to race against others, or yourself from previous times, to try and get the best time that you can. The platform mode allows you to race, but make sure that you don't fall off the track! Finally, the puzzle mode involves construction of the track whilst you're driving, it's a new concept, but is fun to play.
There are a large range of other options available to players, such as lots of tracks to choose from, and a range of three vehicles, and three different settings, rally, desert and stadium. For a DS game, a lot of time and effort has been made into making the game feel different, but yet interesting to play.
Controlling the game is easy, using the d-pad and navigational controls, and there is minimal use of the stylus and the touch screen. However, as a control format, this works well, it's easy to pick up and play this game, and everything controls as you would expect. The only frustration that you might have is with the collision detection, but even this isn just a minor gripe.
If you do get tired of the over hundred tracks that come with the game, you are also able to build your own. This kind of feature is often placed into games, but doesn't really work too well, but this is an exception, it's a really good extra feature which adds lots of playability to the game.
The game engine uses 3D to race, and this is very impressive given the limitations of the Nintendo DS. The game remains fluid, and feels good to play, and a lot of effort must have been made in making the game both look good and play smoothly. There is also great attention to detail, the tracks are interesting to look at, and this is well above what I'm used to seeing on the DS. The sound is also very good condition, both in terms of the background soundtrack and the sound effects in the game. The sound and graphics in this game definitely both add to the atmosphere.
The multi player element of the game is generally good, you can either play one at a time on the same console, or link up the game to three other players to race against each other. Unfortunately there is no functionality which allows you to play on-line against other players, which would have been a really good feature for this game.
The game retails for 29.99 pounds, but is currently available at Amazon for 14.75 pounds. At the time of writing, second hand copies are no cheaper than new copies, but it's worth a look on sites such as eBay and Amazon to see if you can pick up a cheap copy of this game. The game is rated as 3+, so is suitable for children of nearly all ages.
In summary, this is limited compared to the PC version, but the developers have certainly done all that they can to try to utilise the DS. The game runs in 3D smoothly and impressively, and the game has lots of options and features. There are some limitations, such as slightly poor collision detection and no way of playing the game on-line, but overall, definitely worth a look.