ManiaTeam, the latest addition to TM United, sure brings something fresh to the game! Forget about individuality (or wait, don’t do that! – we’ll get to that in a while), now it’s the team effort that matters!
For those not in the knowing, for example all you Nations players, ManiaTeam functions in the way that you play in teams, and you earn team medals and points by completing tracks in groups. It’s no longer enough that one person beats the Author Time or gets the gold medal. Several people have to do it – at the same time!
At a first glance, this is brilliant! Teamwork, relying on other people to do good, etc. It’s all a lot of fun, and adds a new social dimension to things. However, the system does have its flaws. It’s not *really* about team work, and sometimes it feels a bit luck-based. One round half the players might drive really well and the other half don’t. Next round it might be the other way around. It’s hard getting the best medals, especially if you’re a big team. In, say, a team of five or more, one person is bound to fail at getting that perfect time.
Medals can be earned in parts though – 25%, 50%, 75% and 100% – depending on how many players in the team actually achieve a specific medal, and naturally the better the team does as a whole the more points you get. And points increase drastically when more players are playing, so the increased challenge is compensated for.
Here we have another technical issue: to get the good points, you *have* to be a lot of players. On our TMX team (which you can read more about here), we were once 10 players racing simultaneously. A perfect race there earns the team quite a lot of points, and the teams who currently held the highest scores stood without a chance, probably not because they were worse drivers, but because they were fewer players. Unfair? Maybe.
But technicalities aside, like I already hinted ManiaTeam is also a lot of fun due to the very same fact that you’re dependent on the others. It thus gets very social, and driving is no longer about quietly making a good time (well, partly it is, you still need to focus). There’s always a lot of talk going on, and having one player “ruin” that otherwise perfect round is all a good laugh – it is, after all, just a game.
At the same time, in my experience players do tend to start focusing harder once enough tries have been made and people want to get moving to the next track. It’s a balance, and I guess each team is different from the other when it comes to how serious things are taken.
On this point, I guess ManiaTeam can be compared to clans and regular TM teams. Players get together in groups and race together for fun or against other teams. In ManiaTeam, it’s all about the points – the better the medals and the more players racing at the same time, the more points you get. And the ultimate goal, of course, is to beat other teams’ “personal best” in regards of points on any given track.
To get back to the point about individuality, this is something that still exists. Because you are still racing separate cars, obviously, and this makes it unavoidable to compete against your fellow teammates. I personally find it rather helpful to try to be “better” than the others, while still keeping the team spirit alive. A little internal challenging only helps the team grow stronger.
To sum up, what ManiaTeam brings is a good, fresh and very much fun way of playing TrackMania. What it also brings, however, is a system based on not only skills but numbers as well, which can be unfair in many ways. But whether or not you care about being the best, you’re bound to have fun playing in teams rather than as a lone wolf – the more the merrier – and that’s what ManiaTeams is all about!
Or what do you think?