Saturday, 7 March 2015


Growing up I loved Theme Park, the classic theme park sim from Bullfrog Productions. I first played it on the Mega Drive back in 1995. It was a pretty lazy port, which was only made worse by the chunky and bloated Mega Drive controller that was essentially trying to replicate the intricate movements of a PC mouse. The Playstation port wasn't much better either, but I found myself getting stuck into that between long bouts of Final Fantasy VII. I've never been one for management sim games, but Theme Park stuck with me over the years as that balance between simple fun and business management. From putting too much sugar in the drinks to get the kids hyper, making an endless roller-coaster so people who ride it puke all over the place to trying to offer reasonable prices for rides, Theme Park walked the serious/silly line perfectly. Though I enjoyed making roller-coasters in Theme Park, I never played the Roller-coaster Tycoon series, a franchise that looked like the grown-up, serious and realistic version of Theme Park. This latest release peeked my interest as it's a spiritual successor to Roll-coaster Tycoon but approaches gameplay in a way that makes Theme Park look like serious business.

Developed by Frontier Developments and out now exclusively for Xbox One and Xbox 360 comes ScreamRide, Theme Parks younger, crazier and dumber brother. Going into ScreamRide and assuming it's some kind of in-depth business management sim is a massive mistake. From the feedback I've seen across the internet, some of the more negative reactions to it went into ScreamRide looking for Roller-coaster Tycoon and Theme Park. This is not Roller-coaster Tycoon or Theme Park. This is not some kind of management sim either. Instead, ScreamRide is is reminiscent of both games but scaled back in terms of business management and beefed up in terms of spectacle and visuals. ScreamRide falls in line with some of Microsoft's Kinect based games, and ultimately focuses on cheap fun, silly visuals and having a laugh. However, unlike 90% of Kinect games ScreamRide isn't shit.

There are 50 levels in ScreamRide, with some being rather small while others are large and expansive. Throughout these 50 levels you can play four different modes- ScreamRider, Engineer, Demolition Expert and sandbox mode. ScreamRider places you on a roller-coaster yourself, with your ultimate goal being trying to prevent any riders from falling out of the cart. It's trickier than it sounds though, as with high speed roller-coasters comes the ability to go too fast, fall right off the side of the track or, even worse, launch the cart directly into a building. Still though, failing this mode can be quite fun as the destructible environments in ScreamRide are alarmingly well done, with buildings falling to pieces in countless chunks and roll-coasters buckling under pressure, all the while the roller-coasters riders are caught in the maelstrom of steel and concrete. Engineer mode lets you create your very own roller-coasters, and though this mode is indeed a little more unnerving than the rest on offer here, the game does challenge you as you create your ride in terms of working around obstacles and penalising you for crashes. 

Then there's Demolition Expert mode which, compared to Engineer mode, is entirely based around destruction and chaos. In this mode you must flatten every structure and building in the level only using roll-coaster carts. There's nothing quite like firing a cart full of people into a building, only for it to slowly yet beautifully fall to pieces dynamically. But it's not all just mindless action though, as you'll get more points for creating a domino effect when levelling buildings, and this takes a good deal of skill to pull off... as well as a well aimed shot with a cart packed full of people. If pulled off correctly it's satisfying, awesome to behold and genuinely f*cking hilarious.

Topping it all of is sandbox mode which, as you can probably guess, essentially combines all the other three modes together. From creating the landmass that will house your roll-coaster, creating said roller-coaster, riding it, saving it and sharing it with friends and then destroying it just for kicks, there are enough tools in sandbox mode to keep you busy for quite awhile. Instead of building a theme park, setting up drink stands, adding restaurants, slowly creating a roller-coaster and then methodically setting the prices and letting consumers in the doors, ScreamRide is all about going fast, blowing the shit out of buildings and hurling roller-coaster riders into walls. It's simple and pretty generic at heart, but it's been awhile since I played a game that made me laugh this much. Viewing it as my own personal roller-coaster sandbox to dick around with, it didn't take too long to enjoy everything ScreamRide has to offer, but I think I'll be sticking with it for awhile whenever I want something fun, easy going and balls-to-the-wall crazy.

ScreamRide lets me hurl people through buildings for fun, so it gets a 4/5.


Denis Murphy

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