I Must Be Getting Old. I Just Don't understand what today's kids are talking about. I can't wear modern clothes. I spell mutha with an 'o' and an 'er'. And I just don't get this new 'music' (as I write I'm listening to an Andy Williams cd). So is it really any wonder I feel so alienated when playing a game whose biggest pull for others seems to be the fact that every session is accompanied by a thumping rave/house/hippity-hop theme? (That's hip-hop you old fogey - Ed.)
Scorcher, the latest race game to have a one-word title that begins with 'Sc', looks set to be a big winner with the kids. It's fast, frantic, slightly violent, and is set in a post-industrial 'cybery' world (well, it's dark a lot anyway), and has the aforementioned music blasting away from every speaker. No doubt many of you are jumping up and down now, shouting, "Cool" (or "Kewl" as you probably spell it), and well you should. It does look very, ahem, kewl indeed. But what is it like exactly?
Funny you should ask
The racing takes place on giant energy-coated sphere type things. You sit atop a ball, the energy field covers you both and then off you zoom into one of four twisting, turning racetracks. Because of the energy field, which sort of repels everything you touch, and the spheroid nature of your machine, the moment you touch anything - ranging from an inconveniently placed barrel to a very conveniently placed wall - you suddenly start bouncing off pinball-style all over the bloody shop.
Now add to that some tracks that take the term 'twisty' and redefine it to mean 'bloody twisty with walls everywhere' and the chances of you managing to get through a single lap without adding the word 'careening' to the lips of any commentators watching your progress are slimmer than Slimmy the Slim Slimmer, champion Slimmer of the National Slimmer's Association, on a 200-calorie a day diet.
What do you mean, padding?
All of this wouldn't be too daunting a challenge if it weren't for the other racers on the track. When you start each race you'll usually see them in front of you (whichever of the traditional viewpoints you decide to use), but the moment the lights turn green and the race is on, you'll usually only see them as they lap you once again. Either that or you'll manage to keep up with them but then discover that you've somehow got to get past them without touching anyone or anything and turning the whole shebang into a production of 'Look Ma, The Balls Are Bouncing Wildly'.
Finally, throw in a few gaps in the track, a couple of ramp-assisted jumps, some barrels, boxes, crates and barriers, the odd tunnel and a couple of crazy stunt sections (such as loop-de-loops) and you're in for a right old time of it.
So is there anything to offer some respite from all these heady challenges? Well fortunately, yes. First of all your trusty craft is equipped with a handy thrust option which allows you to temporarily boost your speed to that of a rabbit in heat. Secondly you have a 'jumping' facility that allows you to soar high into the sky, thus avoiding troubling things like holes in the road and mines and the track. These both have limited power levels though, and have to be constantly boosted by way of picking up (or rather smashing into) the relevant power-ups dotted about the place. Of course, everyone else is also after them...
High and dry
Aside from the problems you'll have to negotiate within the game, Scorcher looks and sounds a treat. As I mentioned at the start it has a fully customisable musical score, containing everything the techno-lover could ever need in a tune (well, I use the term 'tune', but if I'm honest, to me it just sounds like someone hitting a Bontempi organ randomly with a ball-peen hammer. Whatever happened to Johnny Mathis?). Graphically it's all in swanky svga (with some lo-res options for those of us with less-endowed machines) and moves along at a fair old rate.
And that's about it. Scorcher is fast, hip, trendy and young - and it makes me feel about seventy. So it'd better hope that I'm not the one that gets to review it next month or else I might be mean to it just out of spite. But then I'm like that.
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
There's nothing especially remarkable about Scavenger's futuristic racing game, but that's not to say that there's nothing to recommend it.
The idea of racing a huge atlasphere around a roller-coaster ride of a track with more dips, tight turns and twists than the whole of Pan's People is a novel slant that hasn't been seen before, and the visuals alone make it a worthwhile experience.
Scorcher is a very good-looking game, although the altlasphere things take a little getting used to (they sometimes don't go where you expect - but then who knows what one of these things handles like apart from Wolf, Lightning, Saracen and Co?). You get a good sensation of speed as they bounce around the track, especially through the high-banked corners.
Scavenger have done their best to make the six tracks as varied as possible by dropping in some interesting obstacles, but ultimately it's all just a too samey and this is where Scorcher falls down. The lack of a multi-player mode and the fact that it's so damn hard to stay on the track (the checkpoint times are on the mean side, so you'll be forced to use the practice mode if you want to get anywhere) doesn't help matters, but at least it keeps you at it.
For a quick speed hit, it's ideal, but when you play it for any length of time it starts to lose its appeal, for all its graphical splendour and speed.