The original TrackMania Nations was released in 2006 for the Electronic Sports World Cup, and quickly became a favourite with racing fans around the world.
With great graphics, a smooth, realistic game engine, free online play and perhaps one of the most intuitive editors ever made, TrackMania Nations was always going to be a hit, and within a week of its release it had been downloaded over a million times.
Those of you who have followed the TrackMania franchise will be aware that Nations was really a platform to promote TrackMania Sunrise, a more complex racing title along the same lines, and eventually both titles merged to make TrackMania United, which certainly wasn't free. Confused yet?
French developers Nadeo always indicated that a sequel to Nations would follow, so enter TrackMania Nations Forever. It's a 500MB download that installs itself like an expansion pack to the original TrackMania Nations, but there appears to be no shared content between the two titles; TrackMania Nations Forever looks completely different.
The release of this title has allowed those who bought TrackMania United to occupy the same online games as those who downloaded the free TrackMania Nations, however to do so, owners of TrackMania United must download a different, 900MB file called - you guessed it - TrackMania United Forever. It's fair to say this is all a bit ridiculous and really couldn't be more confusing if Nadeo actually tried, but if you're prepared to look past all that, you'll discover an amazingly addictive title bursting with adrenalin-packed competition.
There's really nothing to the game. You use your four arrow keys to accelerate, brake and turn, and if you want to get all fancy you can even use the horn (the sound of which can be customised in TrackMania Nations Forever). However, this is where the simplicity ends. In order to guide your car around a track, you must travel at break-neck speed through a series of jumps, loops, drops, barriers - even water traps - and reach the end in the shortest possible time.
Your competition, should you choose to play online, occupy the same track at the same time, however they are "ghosts" and you cannot hit them or affect their progress along the track at any point. This might sound simple enough, and sometimes it actually is, particularly at the beginning of the single-player track list, but once you jump online you'll discover there are some phenomenally difficult tracks out there.
The original TrackMania Nations was a fantastic game, and a great LAN title as well, but it was restricted to a single environment - the Stadium. With the release of TrackMania Nations Forever, the Stadium has been revamped, and is now called - yep - the Forever Stadium. Basically, Nadeo has thrown in all the environments of previous versions, so you'll have to get used to water traps, new turbo panels, new assorted blocks, and a huge amount of customisable content that dedicated track designers will absolutely love. There's even an off-road segment, and tracks can now be designed around different times of the day, which affects the lighting.