What I loved
- Unique gameplay elements
- Demolition mode and Screamrider mode
- Wanting to beat your (and your friend’s) highest score…
Not so much
- Repetitive cutscenes
- The monotonous (robotic) narrator
Screamride (or ScreamRide if you prefer) is a unique console game in the current era, but if you’re hoping for RollerCoaster Tycoon, you might just be disappointed.
Screamride is about excess. Go faster, break more, build higher and then watch the derailment. At least, that’s how it presents itself at first, but scratch a little more, and you will find that when needed, you still have to make sure the coaster does what it should do – complete a thrill ride around your (or someone else’s) track without the aforementioned loss of coaster.
Build, demolish, scream… ad(d) nausea(m)
Screamride offers two gameplay options out of the box – a ‘Career’ and a ‘Sandbox’ mode. The ‘Career’ mode is then made up of three possible ‘careers’: ‘Screamrider’, ‘Demolition Expert’ and ‘Engineering’. While you can choose to play any of the modes in any order (or not play one at all), the more you progress through each career, the more content you open for the ‘Sandbox’ mode. Each mode in career offers six levels with at least three sub-levels and a number of challenges per level to complete. The more challenges you complete the higher your security level, which is what you require to access the higher levels of each career – but be prepared for a slightly infuriating difficulty spike.
Each career choice offers a unique – and sometimes frustrating – experience for players. The ‘Screamrider’ career is best described as a time trial. You need to race your coaster (under your control) through loops, twists, ‘two-wheel’ sections, turbo tracks, jumps and more frighteningly physics defying tracks in the fastest time and with as many challenges met as possible.
‘Demolition Expert’ is pretty much what it says on the tin, but completely unexpected for what many would approach thinking was a rollercoaster building game. Get your (a little hyperactive) character strapped into a (exploding/rubber/other) cabin (or exploding/gliding/other coaster) and try to cause as much destruction as possible without looking like an anarchist enjoying it all a little too much.
The mode most would have bought the game for (and the dominating option in ‘Sandbox’) is ‘Engineering’. Your job in the career is to complete tracks to satisfy the challenges, and is essentially the overlong tutorial for the ‘Sandbox’ mode (which you can jump straight into but as mentioned, career opens more items).
I found myself more entertained by the two non-construction modes than actually building the rollercoasters. The competitive side of me was drawn to going faster and scoring higher than my friends, while the construction felt more like a chore. This was due to the oddity of the camera jumping behind buildings in career mode (something that wasn’t as obvious in the sandbox) and the finicky challenges you needed to meet. There are only so many times you can see your love and joy (or lazy ‘Meccano’ style construction) miss a challenge by one meter.
However, in ‘Sandbox’ you can ride your own design and even upload it for others to rate (or point and laugh at), as well as download other community designed tracks. Already, the creative community out here have come up with some amazingly imaginative designs which are a thrill to ride and completely mindboggling to make.
The number of track pieces available in the game is immense and there is plenty of opportunity to even alter how they work using banking, turbo, breaking and other tricks. The issue (again) is that the game itself appears a little unsure if it wants you to be wildly over the top or be sensible and design tracks that are within the realm of physics. There doesn’t appear to be much in the way of penalties for losing riders (except in one or two ‘Career’ levels) due to excessive (and violent) g-forces and nauseating downward spirals, and even then you’re being scored in ‘screams’, so we’d assume someone facing their death is more likely to scream than someone cruising along a flat piece of track.
You look so… oh, a shiny object
The game is set in the future, and we can only assume 2050 is a future filled with robots doing everything the clearly foolish human race can’t do. We (humans – and zombies for that matter) do sound better than the narrator’s robotic voice, even if we’re only screaming. And don’t get me started on the soundtrack… No. I didn’t like it. And it was repetitive.
The future may also be the excuse for what I personally found to be a bland pallet of colours used for the shiny generic background buildings. That being said, you’re there for the ride, the coasters and the tracks and those are colourful and do come alive – even at high speed while you feel (especially in first person) like the test dummy humans of 2050 will be. I did however find myself wanting to slap the other humans around – I mean how, in the face of impending doom, can they look so damn excited… and then I remembered. It’s only a game, and sometimes they’re meant to be mindless, escapist fun. And Screamride does just that.
If you’re looking for something a little different for console currently, you won’t go wrong with Screamride. I just think that once you’ve put the initial playtime in, you’re unlikely to be drawn back to play it for extended periods.
In the meanwhile, I’m just off to listen to the screams and watch a derailment or two…
Read about our ratings here.