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Until today, there were only two titles worth mentioning for the PC if you were into arcade racing games, Fatal Racing (Whiplash in US) and Screamer. However, there is now a third one that in terms of graphics and speed, clearly wipes out all its competitors. Only a year after the first episode, Milestone previously known as Graffiti Studios, has done a wonderful job on the sequel which easily positions Screamer 2 at the top of the genre.
With its new 3D engine, Screamer 2 doesn't leave anything to envy from the likes of Ridge Racer or Sega Rally, especially when you play in SVGA with 65,000 colors. The scenery is gorgeous and features the most visually stunning scenery that I have ever seen in a racing game. If you thought Need for Speed had splendid landscapes, wait until you see those of Screamer 2. The scene of the Finnish track, for example, is nothing but amazing with snow covered trees, the road merely appearing from beneath the snow, and the snow effect itself is brilliantly rendered with pale blue-tinted colors just like in real life. Besides the vegetation and terrain's topology, there are many other details such as buildings, animals, and even spectators. The numerous buildings and edifices contained in Screamer 2 are remarkable by their realism and size ranging from small houses to skyscrapers, and it seems there are no two alike. Several are even animated such as windmills, a waterwheel, and a rotating donut sign over some kind of donut shop. The level of detail is undoubtedly surprising with trains circulating over bridges as the best proof.
If Screamer 2 is fun to play alone, it is even more exciting when competing with friends. The game offers several multi-player options that allow four players to race together on a LAN network, and two players through a serial link or on the same machine, this last option dividing the screen into two horizontal windows. Either you choose a single-player or a multi-player game, you will have two game modes, arcade and championship, a third one (time attack) being available when you play alone. At the beginning, you will only have the choice of three tracks, with additional circuits appearing when you win championships. Four bonus cars (one for each team) will become available during the game should you be successful in the four different championships.
After a race, you can always watch your performance with the replay. There you will have six possible camera views from a full screen to a dashboard view, which basically are the same as those offered during the game except for the front view and the view from another car which are only accessible during replay. The fast-pace driving is punctuated with a techno-like soundtrack throughout the entire game, coming directly through from the CD. There are eight audio tracks included in Screamer 2, and you can pick the track you want to listen at any moment during the race. Sound effects such as cheering spectators or howling of wolves in Finland will also be heard during races, adding to the overall realism of the game.
Written by Frederick Claude
Click here for screen shots.
Click here for the demo.
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