Review: Trackmania 2 Valley brings more realistic gameplay to the Mania family
Trackmania 2 has already solidified itself as an easily-accessible-yet-tough-to-master racing game from the folks over at Nadeo. Falling under the umbrella of Mania titles, Trackmania 2 Valley provides a slightly more realistic take on the crazy racer that came before it. And trust me, that is a very good thing.
It's important to note that, despite calling it a more realistic racer, it's still filled with crazy tracks and highways hundreds of feet above ground, and you can still get some massive air through crazy jumps. Where Valley differs itself from its predecessors is its setting, as well as its car handling. Trading in your Stadium stunt car for a more versatile Rally car, you'll be able to take tighter turns thanks to the much tighter controls.
If you've played Trackmania 2 Stadium, you pretty much know what to expect in Valley, since the game is designed largely the same. In fact, you can check out my Stadium review right here. You still have a plethora of single-player timed challenges and online leaderboards, as well as the fantastic multiplayer suite, which can go as far as having 100 players on one track at a time.
Valley's environments shift from massive stadiums to grand highways and a lush countryside. It looks even prettier than its predecessor thanks to some really impressive environmental detail. Aside from the tight handling on the tarmac, you have dirt to contend with, since it completely changes up your handling, and those corners you were attempting to take at high speed now require some careful breaking in order to prevent spinning out.
The heart of Valley, like other Mania games, is competition. Even when you're not directly racing against others, you can always find ways to improve your overall time, shaving off milliseconds at a time. It's designed in a way that constantly encourages you to strive for a better time.
Like Stadium, Valley has a full suite of editing capabilities, which means you can whip up your crazy track designs and share them with others online. Steam Workshop is also incorporated into Valley, though it is important to point out that finding the content there proved to be a little troublesome for me. In fact, I had to ask other players to fill me in on where the heck to find them. (Go to the Local Game menu. There, I just saved you about an hour's worth of headache.) You're also able to capture, edit and show off your record times with the in-game video studio, which is actually quite intuitive to use.
While Valley does come with an increased price tag of$19.99, the improved graphics and handling system, not to mention the entirely new setting, make it worth that. It's still rather clunky and wrapped in an interface that doesn't necessarily look that great, but the addictive and competitive gameplay makes up for it.