If you were to take the basic components of Rollercoaster Tycoon, BoomBlox, and Mario Kart roll those into one downloadable title and layer it with a bunch of dark Portal-esque humour, you'd get what ScreamRide is trying for. I say trying because it feels a little clunky putting all those things together in one game and the longevity of the package will be based entirely around its community.
+Destruction Mode is a lot of fun, just straight up.
+The tools for creation are vast and easy enough to use.
+Playing as the rollercoaster-rider is a lot more fun than I would have guessed.
-Xbox 360 version doesn't have community content.
-The longevity of the game is entirely community dependant.
-If people don't make new rides you'll run out of stuff to do quickly.
ScreamRide serves as the latest in a series of Microsoft Studio attempts at games that focus on community. Plenty of games have released under the banner, primarily for promotion of Xbox Live's Marketplace and in most cases the Games with Gold feature. Sometimes this has given us some fantastic games and other times it's become nothing more than a failed experiment.
The problem with reviewing the game prior to its launch, or even at launch for that matter, is
that the true strength (or weakness) of this game will be in how it is received by the community. You see the core of the game is in its creation tools, like Rollercoaster Tycoon you're provided a wide range of options with which to create your own theme park attraction. The difference being that in ScreamRide you also ride the rollercoaster and there's a challenge element involved with how quickly you can complete each 'course'. When you're in the rollercoaster cart you have the ability to speed up, slow down, boost and lean left/right to keep the coaster on track (derailing will end your run).
At first it seemed like a gimmick of a feature to add in, riding your own rollercoaster, but after a couple of runs I found it was the second most enjoyable part of the game (falling short of the destruction mode).
There legitimately is some skill to keeping the cart on the track; especially if you're aiming for a top time (moving too fast around corners is a quick way to end your run). I've found that pushing the cart to the extreme limits of g-forces without knocking it off the rail is a fine balance that feels pretty damn good when you get it right. The way a game feels for me is a big part of any game. You really need to lock down that everything feels right when you do it right.
To that end, I will say that the starting boost you can get (think Mario Kart) is off. There doesn't seem to be a proper rhythm to it (like in other cart games) and I never quite got used to when to hit that button (then the light turns green).
ScreamRide breaks into three basic gameplay modes: Destruction, Creation, and Riding. Ifyou're playing through the "story mode" of the game these break into three separate tracks. You can progress along each independently, or flip back and forth as you please. The difference from other building games being that in the story mode for ScreamRide there is an objective to be completely; generally something along the lines of "fill this segment of missing track with X number of pieces and try and get a high "Scream Rating."
Riding is, as mentioned, a very "Kart"-like experience. You boost, you accelerate, you lean (instead of having full turning controls), you boost, and you do your damnedest to stay on the track.
Destruction is my favourite, by far. It feels something like BoomBlox where the objective is to destroy, but with the humours twist of causing destruction via the theme park rides themselves. Chiefly there is a sling-shot type ride that whips two riders around at high speed (inside of a plexiglass sphere) then launches them into the air.
There's various types of spheres you'll unlock as you progress, including cabins with additional aftertouch (the ability to manipulate the cockpit in-flight), or the ability to separate it into three distinct pieces and "shotgun" blast structures.
It's simple, it's fun, and best of all it is addictive.
The only thing I would have loved to see Microsoft Studios push for in this section is some multiplayer content. Even if it was BoomBlox style in that each person takes turns, it would be a whole lot of fun to compete with your friends to see who can create the most destruction.
As a package ScreamRide feels complete but somewhat disjointed. There feels like there should be something more connecting the three pieces, specifically when it comes to Destruction. The building free mode is joined with the riding mode in that whatever you build you can then ride/time-trial. Destruction uses a completely different system though and feels like a separate experience with nothing more than the artwork to tie it in with the rest of the game.
Again, only time will tell if this game is going to be a success or not because the community is going to be such a big part of this game. There's the potential there for people to build some mind-bending structures for us to then ride through via the unique carting-experience, but if the community doesn't rally behind this title it'll fall into obscurity within a month and never be heard of again.
Review based on a Xbox One version of the game, supplied by the Publisher.