For me, Trackmania is the closest thing to the video game version of playing with Hot Wheels around the house. Building tracks feels like when we tried to get the orange tracks down the stairs, through the living room, under the couch, and into the kitchen. I'm convinced, when I would grab my favorite car and it would race across the coffee table and jump for the couch, Trackmania is what I was picturing in my head.
If you are going to get a version, Trackmania United Forever is the way to go. However, as of this writing, Trackmania 2 has not been released but is just around the corner. Look for it at E3 2011.
TrackMania is a series of racing games for Windows, Nintendo DS and Wii. It was developed by the French team Nadeo for the PC. Instead of following the usual trend of choosing a set car and track for playing in the game, the TrackMania games allow the player to create their own tracks using a "Block" process in the spirit of the 1985 game Racing Destruction Set and the 1990 Brøderbund release, Stunts.
In contrast with most other racing games, the TrackMania series lets the player race a track as many times as they want, until time runs out. They can choose to respawn at any time possible, due to landing upside down, going off the track or because the start did not go optimally. Although in multiplayer games multiple cars race on the same track, they cannot actually collide or otherwise influence each other.
On June 30, 2006, TrackMania United was announced. The game is basically all TrackMania games built into one game that includes all the environments from the earlier games, and, later, future installments of the series. TrackMania United features a peer-to-peer system so players can more easily share custom content, and a unified ranking system. The engine has been updated to include a pre-lighting accelerated system, which is used in the most recent, Stadium environment. The new system allows for more realistic shadows on high end systems. The Stadium environment has double the amount of blocks featured in the free version, including for instance dirt paths, water, and indoor sections.
Trackmania United Forever is an updated version of Trackmania United. It has seven environments and an all-new mediatracker. It was published by Focus Home Interactive and developed by Nadeo. It has a similar layout to Trackmania Nations Forever. It features four main modes: race, stunt, platform, and puzzle as well as all of the tracks from Trackmania Nations Forever.