Screamer is the second product developed by Graffiti, an Italian developer whose work for Iron Assault, their first release, hasn't been much of a great success. I was therefore quite speechless to see the same developer coming up with such a product only a few months later. Screamer to Iron Assault is what Doom was for Wolfenstein!
Of course, it is important to mention that Screamer is no longer a simulation where huge mechs are fighting together as in Iron Assault, but a racing car simulation running at a lightning speed. Even on a 486 machine, the game play is surprisingly fast and will make your heart pound twice the normal rate!
You have the choice of different game modes: normal, championship or special. The normal mode lets you select the track on which you want to race and the number of laps to complete. You will have six different cars of various performances depending on maximum speed, grip and acceleration, and each model comes in two versions: manual and automatic. You might be disappointed however by the presence of only three tracks but don't worry, more of them will become available further in the game when you prove your driving skills. The first three tracks are Palm Town, Lake Valley and Lindburg. The Palm Town track lays its course across a city with skyscrapers and underground highways. Lake Valley is a beautiful track in the mountains in which you will see waterfalls, chalets, tunnels and distant peeks covered with snow. Finally, the Lindburg is a track located probably in an European city because of the building architecture along the tracks. Even if you don't have much time to look at the scenery while driving, you still can appreciate it. One of the things I noticed first was the sky. It is the first time ever that I can say it looks like the real thing. The textures used in the game are very close to the reality and even the buildings look real. The SVGA mode is even better but you must have 12 Mb in your PC and a fast Pentium to fully enjoy this mode. The only other thing that annoyed me at first was the way some parts of the scenery were displayed. Instead of popping up like in racing games on consoles, the elements were progressively painted on the screen. The effect is quite strange in the beginning, but after some time you get use to it.
Like I said earlier, there are other tracks in Screamer. If you want to drive on these tracks, you must select the Championship mode. You will start out in the Rookie league where you will successively race on six tracks that contain the first three tracks of the game. The fourth track (Palm Town Night) is another track in Palm Town set during the night while the fifth track (Sun Beach Hill) stretches along the coast and runs across a harbour. The last one, located in the desert, crosses a town similar to Las Vegas. For each course, you receive a number of points (9 points when you place first, 7 points when second and 5 points when third) if you manage to reach the top three positions. If you fail to be in the first three places, you will fail but you can always resume the championship and retry the track where you failed. There is a minimal amount to reach to qualify and progress to the next league. After the Rookie league are the Amateur, and Pro Bullet leagues. The Bullet league is a bit special as you have to place first in all the courses. It's a tough challenge but is worth it.
The Special modes (Time Attack, Cone Carnage and Slalom) are more to test your driving skills than a real competition. In Time Attack, you will try to break the fastest lap times and race against a ghost car that actually represents the fastest lap record holder. The Cone Carnage is a mode where you must drive into as many cones as you can to gain additional time. If you miss too many of them, you won't have enough time to reach the next checkpoint! The slalom is quite similar to a skiing course except that you must drive your car between pairs of cones to gain time.
You will find many options in Screamer. You can change the level of details from low to high (which of course influences game speed), difficulty (Rookie, Normal and Pro), and the number of laps (3, 5, 10, 25). You can also turn off the speech and music if you don't like them.
However, the most interesting option is evidently the network support for up to eight players. Like other network games, you will find human opponents more cunning that their computer equivalent and you will have twice the fun competing with your friends.
From all the racing games available, Screamer is without any doubt, the fastest game. Its incredible game play might even let you think your PC turned into a console so much the action is pace and furious. However, don't expect to find the same fine tuned controls in Screamer than those in Nascar or F1 Grand Prix. Game play, graphics and speed prevailed here over simulation realism!
Screamer is a traditional arcade racing game. You can drive lots of different top cars, like a Corvette or a Porsche 911. The game has very different tracks, all well-designed with attention to detail and locale. Additionally, all tracks are available in backwards mode. If you think you're the best of the best, you can take on the Bullet car for the ultimate championship race.
The graphics engine was very good for its time, providing extremely fast texture-mapped graphics on a 486.
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