2008/05/05 08:01:49

your video game is bad and you should feel bad

So a little racing game called Trackmania Nations Forever was released on Steam back in April. I downloaded it, (it's free) and promptly forgot about it until I looked in my games tab and saw it again, and, on a whim, decided to play.

Shortly thereafter I discovered that Trackmania Nations Forever is free in much the same that the bubonic plague is free, and punches to the face can be obtained at no cost.

To prevent any possible miscommunication, I am telling you right now that Trackmania Nations Forever is a bad game. It is not so bad it's good, it is so bad it's horrible. Saying that this game should be burned is an insult to fire. I'm going to be mocking Trackmania Nations Forever a lot more in the upcoming pages, but I wanted to get the point of the post across as soon as possible.

Trackmania Nations Forever, (no, I am not going to abbriviate the name of the game. The developers were evil (or stupid) enough to saddle it with a idiotically long name, and I'm evil (but not stupid) enough to continue to inflict it upon you) appropriately enough, looks like a good game. The graphics are excellent, the controls are crisp and responsive and the in-game music is surprisingly good. But this is just a thin veneer of quality designed to obscure the black, evil heart of the game from the player.

Now, when I said "racing game" up there, you probably thought of a game where you race other cars in a track, and after a number of laps, whoever leads the pack when crossing the finish line gets first place, the person right behind him gets second place, and so on. But no, that's way too much like a good game for Trackmania Nations Forever.

No, in Trackmania Nations Forever, the default, and as far as I can tell, only gameplay mode is "Time Attack", where whoever gets the fastest time in a single lap heat gets the first place. After that single lap, the course is reset, and you do it again, and again, and again. By the way, there's no collision damage, cars can just ghost through each other, and "respawning" to the last checkpoint is instant and doesn't incur a time penalty.

This results in the most egregious Do It Again, Stupid gameplay I have ever seen in a racing game. Since there's no collision damage, the only way to be punished for poor driving is be knocked off the course, which happens a lot. A whole lot.

See that jump? Better line it up perfectly, or else you land outside of the course and have to respawn. But don't line it up too perfectly, because then you'll fall through a hole in the middle of the fucking track and have to respawn. And don't take the jump too slow, or else you'll smack into the edge of the landing ramp and have to respawn. But don't take the jump too fast or else you miss the track entirely after it takes a sharp turn right after the landing ramp. And have to respawn.

Mess up in any of a hundred ways? Do It Again, Stupid!

I played in a kind of haze of confusion, and eventually, rage; as I screwed up in tiny, almost imperceptible ways and had to respawn over and over again. "This game looks like someone spent money on it! How can the gameplay be so stupendously horrible? This has to be some sort of user-made third-party course, the real courses can't possibly be this terrible." This I screamed to the uncaring heavens, and, incidentally, the chat channel.

<bbot> Are all of the maps as bad as this?
<gc-mcwellian> no
<gc-mcwellian> some are worse

And that's by no means the end of Trackmania Nations Forever's crimes. When creating an account you have to select your nationality, accomplished by going through a list of nations eight at a time, with a sizable delay after hitting the "next page" button as it apparently requests the page from a server. Once you do, that, you get to select your state the same way.

This is so the game can locate you on the appropriate leaderboards, which are sorted by player rating, which presumably uses the Elo ranking system. Now, this is just fine, but Elo ranking is for directly competitive games like Chess, where a large difference in player skill results in a dramatically different game. A grandmaster can obliterate a newbie in a couple of moves, etc. But you can't even interact with the other players in Trackmania Nations Forever! This has the effect of making the ranking system being used purely for ranking, rather than for game-balancing (since there's nothing to balance) or server matchmaking.

Just finding a server is a chore. It is the year 2008, a mere ten years after Half Life came out; why, then, am I unable to even sort servers by ping? Or just by game mode? Why are you making me page through hundreds of servers, without being able to filter them at all? How do you fail at even the most trivial task, something accomplished over and over, without flaw, by every other multiplayer game for the last ten fucking years?

Trackmania Nations Forever is a shitty, shitty game. Its gameplay is fundamentally broken, the UI is a joke, the server browser is a hate machine designed to inflict pain on anyone who touches it, and even the name is poorly designed and fails at the simple task of conveying what the game is about. There is no aspect of this game that is without flaw, no detail not perverted to the task of assaulting the mind of the player. I deleted the game after playing it for twenty minutes, and now I wish it were installed again so I could delete it again, delete it twice, delete it three times, reformat the hard drive, and crush its platters with the sheer force of my hatred. Trackmania Nations Forever is the ultimate argument against the existence of a loving God, for if He existed, surely this blight upon existence would be unmade entirely, its component atoms wiped from the universe, and its creators damned to Hell.

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