Trackmania 2 Stadium is a casual arcade racing game,like the Trackmania 1 series before it,it has a massive online following of players and modders,online leaderboards for country and region and an unlimited amount of tracks to race on,Trackmania 2 series is more of an updated version of the original game with a new graphics and sound engine,a more streamlined interface geared towards simplified ingame downloadable content and trying to combine the other expansions of the trackmania series together.
The old Trackmania games could be purchased as several different themes,sunshine,nations,united and forever,these were separate games with the same racing only set in different locals and racing car types,like F1 rally,exotic.There are also a few other versions on the game that combined everything together as one purchase called united nations.The original is old,it's pricing structure and layout was a mess but the game was very good in it's own right however it would never be recommended over the Trackmania 2 series these days.
Trackmania 2,so for the new updated game,it has now been split into three games,Stadium,Canyon and Valley -F1-STOCK-RALLY each of these games have their own locale and racing style,each of these games are superb in their own way and now these three games are tied together with the new menu system.The gameplay is very arcade,these games use for example the rally theme in a very loose sense to make up the look and sound of the game but overall,all three games are of the Trackmania style of gameplay,a gameplay all on it's own.
Gameplay consists of racing without racing !,you racing on the games tracks or the user created tracks that can resemble something from FZero or Micromachines or Hotwheels,you race simply for the race record and you race against your own and everyone else's ghost car,when you play online you are also racing against online players ghost cars,they are playing in real time but you can't crash into them as there is no collision,if there were collision then the game would simply not work as you can be racing along side as many as 400 other players at the same time of any given track !
This is a very casual pick up and play,have fun and turn off again game but it's also a very skillful game,also a very exciting game that looks and sounds great to boot,it doesn't matter what version of the game you buy,stadium canyon and valley all offer the same level of skill and fun.
So I would recommend everyone play this game,it's the PC racing game that everyone should own a copy of,I will break down the differences of each of the three games in preference as my opinion below.
Trackmania Stadium -You can't go wrong with stadium as it's the base game,the original and the best
Trackmania Canyon -The weakest of the three but it's really really fun,as good as the others but just not the best
Trackmania Valley - the best looking of the three as it's engine was tweaked as the locale has more going on,more detail
I would always recommend Stadium as the starting game,it's the cheapest of the three and the core game is there,the other two are just as good but I would say Stadium is the best of the three,with stadium you do not even need to ever play the other two games,the other two are for those who can't get enough of the Trackmania series and it's also good to change
out every now and then for something s bit different to race on.
The game like soo many others are not without problems,many bugs have already been sorted but I found the Trackmania series in particular to have some very backwards design ideas/flaws,for the most part this game and it's expansions will run 60fps+ on the very high graphical settings,some settings still slow it down like motionblur but thankfully you can turn all details from off,low,med,high,the vsync options are not very well explained as there are six options for vsync as well as triple buffering and first time users won't know the correct/best setup,I will say now that you should use vsync,also use every third frame (not constant frame) and also use triple buffer and this should give you a proper 60fps,water shader detail for medium pc's should be med or low,and motion blur would be recommended as off,there are many other options in the start up menu and you should take the time in setting these up,resolution is very important in this game,i found that lower resolutions are fine but you really miss the graphical details so I would recommend you aim for 1080,full frame rate with vsync options and then turn up other details to see what you can get away with.
Other problems with the game are the lack of support,this game is made by a French company and the forums and users are mostly EU users,there's not as many users from the uk and usa on the forums,that doesn't mean there are not many users from uk and usa playing the game,just means we try to avoid the unhelpful forums as I found I didn't get anywhere when asking for help.
The game's layout,the way the game works can be quite strange as well,you earn points for scoring high,these points are called Planets ? your planets are displayed in the top bar when you are in the main menu,these Planets are then used to buy online user created content,you earn a little planets each day that you play as well,another thing that seems backward to me is the apparent new menu system that combines everything together (it doesn't actually work) after all the time this game has been out it still is broken but since an update a month ago it is now working outside of steam but the steam version is still unworking,this means that if you own two or more of the trackmania games,you need to exit out the game and start then other one up from steam ( not a big deal really)
Overall this game is amazing,be prepared to spend some time on the game,take your time and mess about in the menus and try to get used to the way the Trackmania system works,playing the game for the first time gave me the feeling of (wtf have I just bought ?) it took me a while to understand the games charm,I was expecting far too much from the game and when I couldn't really GET the concept of the game along with the many problems I faced in trying to find out what Planets are and why my planets would disappear without buying content or sometimes I would buy content and lose my planets but not receive my item,I found it very hard in finding the answers on google or the mania forums,little things like this can really put you off a strange game and concept like this one,but give it a go and you will find it hard not to fall in love with this game,it's a classic.