Review: ScreamRide – Built to Thrill
I have a confession to make: I hate rollercoasters. The idea of being loosely secured into an uncomfortable seat inside of wobbly cart on an old track only relying on some teen who watched a three hour training video to save my life in case something goes wrong is NOT my idea of a good time.
I’m way more open into playing a game about rollercoasters, however, and ScreamRide lets you enjoy the thrill of riding these deathtraps without actually putting yourself at any risk.
The title puts us in a future where humans have been bored with everything and do whatever they can in order to feel alive. So how do these boring people have to do in order to find a reason to live?
Well, they head to the Screamworks, a set of man-made islands that houses the world’s most insane rides where fun is measured in Screams, Nausea and Intensity.
ScreamRide is broken down into three different game types: Scream Rider, Demolitions Expert and Engineer. The campaign puts you in the shoes of these thrillseekers on tracks become more elaborate and life-threatening.
Being a Screamrider puts you in the seat of one of these twisting high-speed death machines and The objective here is to make good time while staying on the track. You can lean, boost and brake your way through embankments, jumps and some pretty stomach-churning turns.
The real test, though, comes with knowing when to apply the brake and stabilize your cabin. Timing plays a big role when trying to stick landings or actively dodge blockers on the track.
The biggest problem with the ScreamRider courses is that you end playing this mode rather passively in the early stages. A lot of the gameplay involves sitting back and just making sure your cabin doesn’t tilt over by hitting the left joystick.
Past Series Three is when you actually feel like you’ve got true control, such as navigating through obstacles and when super hair-pin turns require your full attention.
Demolitions Expert was by far my favorite mode, mostly because the concept is pretty simple. You knock down structures by launching wrecking balls that have people inside them; each stage has a limited number of throws that require some creativity on your end. You can switch between a number of different cabins each with own unique ways of bringing down the house.
Personally, the after-touch cabins with the extra thrusters have been a life saver for me since they have an unparalleled level of control. I was able to hit a hard to reach explosive barrel on a structure that looked like a giant robot and was struck with glee as I watch it collapse on its rear end.
The destruction puzzles provide a great challenge when solved as they should have been, though I found simply aiming at the base of most buildings did the trick most of the time.
The later levels introduce shielded towers with very small weak points (think thermal exhaust port on the Death Star) where just brute force will not work. Hitting it at the right angle at the right speed is what you’ll toy around with in order to get the perfect toss.
The physics combines with the destruction cameras give some really dramatic shots of your handy work. I spent the majority of my time trying to get as many points possible by trying to nail all the side objectives, like soaring through hoops or taken down multiples buildings with one toss.
Engineer missions can have two different objectives: Build to Thrill and Build to Destroy. Build to Thrill means you have to complete an unfinished course by adding parts and tracks that will be fun and intense for the riders inside.
The fun is measure with the S.I.N system for Scream, Intensity and Nausea. You want high Screams and Intensity with minimal nausea in order to keep the riders happy and the score high. You always want to make sure your ride is safe since people getting thrown off mid-spiral, though hilarious, will dock you some serious points.
Build to Destroy is more about using the track to build up speed and launching the riders into a building with the hopes of destroying it. This is different from the Demolitions mode since you are firing folks from an incomplete track instead from a tosser you can aim and guide.
The trick here is figuring out where you can let the cart build up speed with the proper angle to send them flying. It’s a interesting departure from the other modes since you’ll be stuck more in the planning phases than the execution.
The user interface for all the modes is pretty intuitive, which comes as no surprise considering that the team behind Zoo Tycoon and Rollercoaster Tycoon have always made their games with competent controller support. Creating tracks in the Sandbox or altering courses while playing as an Engineer is pretty simple even though finessing some track pieces can be a pain.
ScreamRide’s most overlooked feature is the ability to create and share tracks via Xbox Live. Here you go into the Sandbox and create the most elaborate (or weird) amusement rides with pieces you’ve unlocked while playing through the campaign.
You can create giant monstrosities like the wicked coaster in the video below with the tools provided (with some practice of course). Trying to rotate and tilt additional tracks was a little confusing at first and tested my patience when I was trying to a make a course in the shape of a middle-finger (classy, I know).
The community will determine the longevity of this game. You can breeze through the six different areas and 50 plus missions in about six-seven hours, but you can really lose yourself once you start diving into the the community’s offerings. Hopefully fans can populate the servers with plenty of ridiculous looking stages.
What I enjoyed the most about this title is how easy is it to restart a stage with the touch of a single button. Playing Demolitions or Engineer will require players to perform a lot of trial and error so having the stage quickly reset was a more than welcome feature. The learning curve isn’t steep but still manages to remain challenging.
ScreamRide delivers an interesting and exciting mix of high-speed thrills with some fun destruction puzzle elements thrown in for good measure. What we really need to keep an eye out for, however, is how the community will shape up after launch.
As long as there are wild courses to conquer and plenty of buildings shaped like human anatomy to destroy I’m totally okay with that.