Screamride is a unique title and not a genre you find a lot on consoles. It is essentially a spiritual successor to Frontier’s popular RollerCoaster Tycoon series. There are four big modes in Screamride for you to enjoy with three of them being in the “career” section and then the fourth being in a sandbox. Going through the career you’ll get to experience the small amount of story in the game being either a Screamrider, a Demolition Expert or an Engineer. The sandbox is where you can create your own coasters, rides and scenery to go along with it. In addition to that there is the level center where you can upload your own creations as well as download coasters other gamers have developed. I have always enjoyed this type of thing in games as it means there will be virtually endless content as long as the community remains active.
Screamride is set in the near-future where people have gotten bored and are tired of everyday activities and hobbies and as such they are looking for more extreme hobbies to pass the time. With this being the case there is a corporation that wants to capitalize on this. The company is Screamworks and it is your job to build, ride and demolish things in an attempt to develop new rides that can be delivered to the general public. This is a game where you need to understand the science of terror and the limits of destruction. Where you want to push the envelope when you are developing your dream coaster but you have to build something that won’t get people ejected from their seat in the middle of the ride (unless that happens to be the objective). The person you’ll hear speaking throughout the game will remind you of Glados from the Portal series as will her propensity to mock you if you screw you up and even sometimes when you are successful. I found it to be pretty humorous as I really the aforementioned Portal series but I definitely think Glados was done better.
When you are going through the career mode you will notice that there are six locations to visit and go through. There are a variety of locations such as the Populous Labs, Beldurraren Laku and the Fortress. Each location has its own unique charm and might add its own twist on things, such as Beldurraren Laku being in the belly of a semi-active volcano which adds an extra level of danger. As one would expect you start with the first series and once you have earned enough commendations you will be able to move on to series two and then series three and, well, you get the point. Each series has a number of objectives to accomplish and criteria that you need to meet to earn those commendations as well as gain a higher security clearance, which will unlock more items for you to use in sandbox mode.
The first area you’ll see is the “screamrider” levels. This is where you race on a roller coaster track that has already been built. It has standard racing controls such as the “RT” button being used to accelerate and the “LT” button being used to brake. You also use the left analog stick to make your riders lean which will hopefully result in you staying on the track and not flying off into a building you were just passing. It might sound pretty simple but as you get further into the game the challenges will ramp up. In addition to the required criteria for passing a level there are also bonus objectives. Some bonuses include a time bonus where you will want to complete the track as quick as possible which can be easier said than done when you have a number of obstacles on the track that you need to avoid or the two wheel bonus which you get for getting your cart up and riding on two wheels for a period of time. In addition to that there are sections that have boosters that will cause you to go really fast as well as specialty tracks like a corkscrew or a giant loop that will eject everyone from their seat if you aren’t careful. It is a pretty fun mode and helps to get you in the right mindset for the game.
The next option in the career mode is the Demolotion Expert. This is the mode where your goal is to cause as much destruction as you possibly can. You get to try and take down entire buildings by launching the cabin you are in into a building, a blimp that just happens to be flying by or anything else in your immediate environment. The way this works is there is a giant mechanical arm that holds your cabin. You can control how much power is behind the throw with the “RT” and “LT” buttons. You aim with the left trigger and then hold down the “A” button to get ready to throw. Once you do things happen in slow motion to try and help you line up your shot and then once you are satisfied simply let go of the “A” button and your cabin gets tossed in the air towards your target. While in the air do you have some aftertouch and can somewhat glide yourself in mid air to try and better hit your target. As you progress in the game you will come across a number of different cabins from a normal cabin that is shaped like a ball, a fragmentation cabin that can be separated into three pieces for more destruction, a sticky bomb cabin that can be detonated at any time after launch and more. The key in this mode is to try and figure out where the structural weakness of a building is so that you can take it down in one shot. There are often explosives laying around the environment too so if you misfire and hit the top of a building you might still be able to take it down if you trigger enough explosives. There are also coasters that will be just like the ones you found in Screamride but they will be launched towards buildings to try and cause some big damage. This is where you’ll have a rocket coaster, exploding coaster and a gliding coaster that can deploy wings.
The third and final area of the career mode is the Engineer. This mode is split into two different styles. In this mode you will be presented with different scenarios where you will have to find the answer. There is the “build to destroy” portion where your objective is to build a coaster that will cause the most amount of damage to the environment. One of the ways this is achieved is setting up a coaster in such a way that it can launch you into the air and into a building which will hopefully take down the building and everything else in the immediate vicinity. Then there is the “Build to Thrill” where you are even a pre-built coaster that isn’t finished. You have to figure out how to finish it with a set number of pieces and within the confines that are given to you. You will have to meet certain criteria here to move on although one of the cool aspects here is there isn’t simply one correct answer. You can essentially do what you want as long as you work within the framework of what is given to you. This is also where you can get a small glimpse into some of the tools you will use in sandbox mode. You’ll have access to the “Coaster Technology palette” which will give you the option to build specialty tracks that will twist and turn your car as it races on the tracks. When designing these tracks you’ll want to keep in mind that you can earn special bonuses as well such as a drop bonus for going down a really steep track, a duck bonus where you have track pieces that pass under something (and your riders have to duck) and things of that nature. You will also have boosters and brakes available to you so you can give your cart some extra speed for a steep climb or if you want to slow it down before a really sharp turn. There are six series to go through with a number of different levels within the series which should keep completionists busy for quite a while.
Finally there is the sandbox mode where you can create your ultimate roller coaster. As I mentioned up above you will gain more pieces for this mode by meeting certain criteria in the career mode and getting your security clearance as high as you can so it would definitely be in your best interest to spend some time in the career mode. Within this sandbox mode you can create the coaster of your dreams but you can also build the surrounding environment as well. You can build islands and go as simple as square blocks or as complicated as city streets. You will also be able to use some scenery to make things look even better and they give you a decent amount to work with. You can place as many structures as you want but there can only be 4,000 pieces per structure and 50,000 pieces total. There are also some big structures that are pre-built that are available to you as well. There is a good amount of content here that I could go on and on about but all you really need to know is that these editing tools are the same ones the developers used to create the levels you see in the career mode so you should be able to build some pretty cool stuff.
Screamride is available on both Xbox 360 and Xbox One, however, the Level Center is exclusive to the Xbox One version. This is where you upload your creations and download levels the community has made. You can share your own content and rate what you think of others. There is even an achievement for having your creation downloaded 30 times. As you can imagine there will probably be a lot of content that is uploaded as more people buy the game and so you might need to use some of the filtering options. There is the view filter where you can easily find content created by your friends, yourself or things you have identified as being a favorite. Then there is the sort order such as being able to see content by the most recent, top rated and things of that nature. There are other things you can search by too such as level type and whatever tags have been added to each level such as if a roller coaster has been labeled as “twisty” or something along those lines.
In my opinion there is a good amount of content here that should keep you busy for a while. In terms of performance Screamride ran pretty well 98% of the time. The only time I noticed some framerate drops was when there were a lot of explosions on the screen and a bunch of buildings and other items were falling at the same time. It didn’t happen every time or anything and it certainly doesn’t hamper the actual gameplay but I felt I did have to mention it. Overall I am pretty happy with what Frontier has given us. It is a breath of fresh air as we don’t usually see too many of these types of games on console. If you are still unsure as to whether Screamride is for you then there is a demo on both Xbox 360 and Xbox One for you to check out for yourself.
Originally posted on Gaming Target