Thrills was probably the name of this game until Microsoft realized that you can’t actually copyright that, so they decided to call it Screamride. The premise behind this game is building and surviving the most insane roller coasters that have ever existed. It boasts diverse elements that make up the career and sandbox modes, which aim for an incredibly high standard and come really close to the mark.

The story behind this theme park adventure game is from the perspective of test subjects, who have signed up to have their limits tested on intricate and often dangerous roller coasters. There are three career modes to choose from as either a test subject or a scientist: Screamrider gives players a third person experience of riding these behemoths, Demolition is all about smashing the surrounding environment in order to earn points and Engineer lets players learn how to build and fix roller coasters from an entire pallet of models.

The most raw fun to be had in this game comes from the Screamrider mode, essentially a more natural version of Guitar Hero, except in a theme park. Players press the right buttons at the right time to gain turbo, jump ramps and lean onto two wheels, all to score the most points possible and get the highest rating in each level. While the first few levels can get a little repetitive with no replay value, the same is not true for later tracks, as they get harder and harder with a variety of objects to avoid, jump and of course, destroy.

This mode feels a lot like the gameplay that was first pioneered in games like RollerCoaster Tycoon 3, where you could ride the rides you created in first person. You’ll notice a running theme in Screamride of “copying” formulas that made other games work, but this is the one area where it actually improves the experience. As you twist and turn on each track, the loops and drops will constantly remind you of roller coasters you’ve ridden in the past, and help give you a rush of adrenaline that makes the game feel exciting.

Demolition mode, is where things get a little strange. This mode acts as an Angry Birds clone built by Microsoft and with more detailed backgrounds. Here, players gain points by using gravity and momentum to swing a giant metal ball into the surrounding urban landscape of skyscrapers, gaining points by causing as much destruction as possible. While the mode tries to show just how fun destroying buildings can be, it ultimately falls short due to its own physics engine, which really keeps players from fully enjoying the environment.

One of the game’s main shortcomings is that it was clearly built for the Xbox 360, and was scaled upwards for the Xbox One. The scenic backdrops from all over the world look pristine, but anything your actually interacting with looks tragically cartoonish, including the characters that seemed to be forced into every situation. This becomes incredibly prominent when you play Demolition mode; as the buildings are falling down around you, they break apart into pieces that look like they came directly out of one of the Lego games.

Though it leans towards lesser graphics, the game is given a real time to shine in its last mode, called Engineer. While all of the story missions are essentially glorified tutorials for the games shining jewel, Sandbox mode, they feel the most necessary in order to have fun. If you’ve played Guitar Hero or Angry Birds, you’ll do fine in Screamrider and Demolition modes respectively, but Engineer mode teaches you the nuts and bolts of how to make a great roller coaster. What’s really interesting is how this mode not only introduces you to what tracks you have and how to use them, but shows you how to fix mistakes in tracks that you feel just aren’t working out. Overall, this campaign is the truly defining feature that shows you how much fun you can have.


The only real draw backs to a game like this are the unoriginal gameplay, animations and unfortunately the voice acting. Microsoft clearly understood that players love snarky robots that talk trash, but they didn’t really understand why and thus created a lifeless voice that couldn’t care less that it’s smarter than you and, dare I say it, actually wants you to succeed. The bastard. The last nail in the coffin of an otherwise fun game is the integration of camera angles through in game drones, placed all throughout the map. Though the idea is pretty sound, the application is extremely lacking and often leads the player to wonder why exactly the developers placed cameras in one area, when buildings are falling on the opposite side of the map.

With Screamride, Microsoft Studios is attempting to recapture lightning in a bottle. Between building the most intricate roller coasters, and achieving the craziest thrills, the game feels exactly like the original RollerCoaster Tycoon series, and while it may not ultimately reach the standard set so many years ago, in other ways it completely exceeds it. Screamride plays it fast and loose with its gameplay, and falls a bit short in its presentation, but thrill-seekers and builders alike will find many reason to enjoy this ride.

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