16 April 2008

TrackMania Forever!!!

Quiet ride down a country road at night - TrackMania United Forever
TrackMania United Forever - Quiet Ride Down a Country Road at Night

Many people dread April 15th (at least if they live in the United States and they owe the Government taxes...) but not me.

No way, April 15th 2008 (April 16th in France) was one of the best days in video-gaming history for me.

That's right... TrackMania United Forever (TMUF) and TrackMania Nations Forever (TNF) were released today; the latter being the free version.

Nadeo, the game's creator, took the United engine for the Stadium environment and put it into TMNF. Basically, Nations Forever is like taking Stadium straight out of United and put in a standalone game. What makes this great is that owners of TMUF (which contains an additional 6 environments spanning the entire TrackMania series) can connect to TMNF servers without having Nations Forever installed (prior to this release, one had to install both TrackMania United (TMU) and TrackMania Nations (TMN) to play both.)

That's the first really exciting piece of goodness I discovered when I updated my game to TrackMania United Forever... but wait, there's more!!!

Some of my favorite additions:
  • Easier Player/Server search functionality

  • The TrackMania Original (TMO) environments have all had major graphics engine revamps done to them and they're incredibly beautiful. I'll post pics when I get some time.

  • We can now change video settings in-game; which we've been dying for!

  • Rumor is there are two new block types: a blue block in Stadium that makes it easier to carve a turn; and a "rainbow turbo" that is timed to be 100% power for 1 second, then amp up to 150% for 1 second, then 200% for 1 second, then cycle back to 100%, etc. I haven't seen these yet, but am looking forward to them. An "Engine Killer" block was added to TMU and it added a whole new dynamic to the gameplay; so I look forward to these two new blocks.

  • Tracks seem to load faster (though that might be due to the new hardware some too...)

  • All environments seem to play smoother and look prettier (even the ones that didn't get the face-lift seem to have better lighting, etc.)

I'm sure this is just the tip of the iceberg; as I only got to play for a couple of hours tonight.

I will say this: Nadeo has put a TON of time and effort into enhancing this game and it shines like the sun. I can't believe they made it a free upgrade. I'd pay for it... in fact, I'm considering making a donation to the cause anyway; the enhancements are more than worth it.

I can't wait to see what else lies ahead as we play TrackMania Forever... you know where you'll find me late Friday Night! (Dang I need to get some time to update that site... holy old...)

Rumor was that the people in the USA that bought TrackMania United from Steam wouldn't be able to get the Forever update yet... but I pointed the update installer at my "Program Files\TrackMania United" folder and it worked fine... then when trying to launch TrackMania United from Steam after I played TMUF from the manual update, Steam decided to update the game automatically in its install folder... I just hope it didn't overwrite my car skins and gamepad configuration :)

See you at the races...

(By the way, if you're interested in getting into the world of TrackMania; contact me first... TMUF has a feature where I can invite friends to get the game... and if you get it from the invite using the same email for your account, I can be your sponsor. I'm not sure what that means, but I'd like to find out... so let me know.)