Pages: 1 2 3
Review by: Bob Mandel
Published: January 20, 1999
Within the burgeoning field of arcade combat racing, there are two types of games: those where you may engage in weapons use but you can win and enjoy the race without them, and those where the pickup and use of these destructive tools is absolutely essential to success and pleasure from the game. Beam Software’s Dethkarz and Rayland’s Mad Trax are examples where weapons are available but not required (weapons availability can easily be turned off and on); and Psygnosis’ Rollcage and Iridon’s Excessive Speed are examples where weapons are absolutely vital to the play. Both kinds of games are enjoyable, but their tone differs markedly, with the first emphasizing more racing skill and the second focusing more on clever use of arms.
S.C.A.R.S., the just-released game distributed by the French Ubi Soft and developed by the British Vivid Image, is squarely in the second arcade combat racing category (even though the weapons can be disabled). The acronym stands for Super Computer Animal Racing Simulation, and each of the cars in the game not only looks like a predatory animal but also has similar strengths and weaknesses in its performance. These cars are specifically based on the lion, mammoth, rhinoceros, shark, mantis, scorpion, cobra, cheetah, and panther. To tell the truth, though, this creature-based car design seems to be largely a gimmick, as aside from affecting the performance of a car and its appearance there is no other impact on the gameplay.
The game takes place in 3000 AD, when 9 supercomputers rule the Earth because their intelligence “long ago surpassed their creators” (in sharp contrast, of course, to today’s predicament). Because these machines have even acquired human emotions and are feeling bored and apathetic (yeah, right), they decide to entertain themselves with racing competitions. To do so, they manufacture advanced cars that imitate the Earth’s most ferocious creatures (what is the mantis doing here?). You have the honor, as a clearly inferior human, to drive one of these awesome vehicles. Although I am used to outlandish, skimpy, or nonexistent plots in arcade action games, this one attains a new level of ridiculousness.
However, despite the lame story and gimmicky animals, this game really has some excellent features. The 9 quite diverse tracks are Aztec, Island, Ski, Rally, Canyon, Mountain, Water, Blade, and Pipe. On most of these tracks you can set the weather conditions, which affect lighting and grip: your choices are day, dusk, night, and rain, and you even have high-beam headlights available if you need them under these adverse conditions. You may also race in mirror mode if you wish. There are 4 championship competitions available — carbon, crystal, diamond, and zenith — that allow you to win cups and to access a tougher challenge mode of play. Time attack and custom cup modes allow you to practice racing, learning the curves of the tracks or the placement of the pick-ups so that you can perform at your best in the competitions.
Pages: 1 2 3