The other night i was oirr with, a few friends getting very, very drunk. Eventually the bartender of time shook the cocktail mixer of inevitability and poured out the last orders of fate. And as sure as nighl follows late evening, we were smartly turfed out and told to go home.
Naturally the conversation (such as it was) got around to who'd be driving. Since none of us were in any Fit state we took a cab. But ifr if, one of us had foolishly sat behind the wheel and edged out into the busy traffic, the experience might very well have been not entirely dissimilar to my first bash with Virgin's new answer to the darling of the super-consoles - Ridge Racer.
You crashed, didn't you?
And how! As soon as the lights turned green I was screaming off round the track (the PR guy was right), into the back of a Ferrari F40 and off the side of a wall that spun my car up into the air and back on to the ground. Luckily this was only an unfinished demo, so the car suffered no damage and I was off again. But it was still pretty hairy stuff.
Basically, Screamer is fast. Very fast. On a 66m hz at any rate, which is being touted as the minimum recommended speed for this wonder from Spain. If you want to race fast cars, buy a fast machine. If you want to stick with your 486SX 33MHZ, then you'll just have to wait for the forthcoming Fiat Uno Simulator from Pathetisoft. So you won't be able to drive everything from F40S to Porsche 911s to Lamborghini Diablos over five specially created tracks and one bonus secret track (which I know how to get to but I'm not letting on). And it means you won't be able to drive them linked over a network to 15 other players. It's just a shame you can't have a gun strapped to the bonnet.
We don't all have networks, you know
Too true. We often forget that as a magazine we are blessed with more pcs than a riot in Bradford and, as such, have access to the elite world of Multi Player Fun. Still, remember Ridge Racer in the arcades? Remember how great it was at first? Remember, then, when Daytona appeared in those four-to-six player linked cabinets? Did anyone remember Ridge Racer after that? Yeah, right. The future is in null modem cables my friends and Screamer is making sure it's wired for sound.
I'm a ninja PC
Then you're very lucky, but you're probably still not ninja enough to run Screamer in its full glory, that of hi-res mode. Most of these piccies are from the low-res version (this is the one that needs the 66mhz as minimum). Now, prepare to faint as I tell you that there are two higher modes of visual representation (mid - and hi-res). The hi-res version I was shown was still very unfinished and had a lot of optimising to get through, but even so, despite the jerkiness, it still looked impressive. If Virgin can get it running smoothly, pc race fans are in for a real treat.
And there's more...
The game is full of spicy little graphical touches as well as meaty big ones, Trucks whizz over bridges as you pass under them, a giant screen scoreboard for the fans has images of the race flashing up as you go past - even the normally faceless crowd looks as if it's made up of real people. The feeling of speed is very good, which is good news as one of the problems I usually have with driving simulation games is that they never really conjure up a true sense of real speed. Screamer seems to do so, and then some. (I think you might have mentioned this already: Ed.)
Spain's finest export?
Oh, did I mention earlier on that Screamer hailed from Spain? So I did. Yes, it's from Spain. Not France. Spain. Can we hold that against it? You know, all Johnny Foreigners are alike and all that? No, don't be daft. What about all that business with the fish? That was Canada's fight really. Nope, we can't hold the fact that they're from Europe against them. What you might want to hold against them, though, is that this is the same bunch that brought us Iron Assault (which scored a paltry 57% in Issue 25). Don't, though. It wouldn't be fair to Screamer which, as I may have indicated, looks like being much better.
Well, that's as much as We'Ve seen of the game so far, so there's not a lot left for me to say. Screamer has everything you'd expect from an arcade racer: realistic car handling, fast moving but detailed graphics, speed, exhilaration and so on. It's not a simulator like NASCAR or FIGP, but that shouldn't start you thinking of things like Crazy Cars and Outrun. A closer comparison would be Bullfrog's Hi-Octane, but it's more friendly (you can find out what we made of Hi-Octane). The game has all the usual features, such as a replay mode that uses lots of differently positioned cameras, plus there's an option to play from one of three different viewpoints. It's fully compatible with just about any combination of joysticks, pedals and steering wheels. Purchasers of the cd-rom version will have the added bonus of a thumping fully digital techno soundtrack to listen.
Which makes pretty nice icing on what looks set to be a very delicious cake. Screamer is scheduled for a September launch, by which time it will have to take on the Bullfrog monster, but the real challenge will be whether it will persuade people to put a pc on their shopping list in place of a Saturn or PlayStation. Plus, hopefully by the time of release, a processor chip will have been invented that is capable of displaying the hi-res mode at a decent speed. Then again, probably not.
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP