As computer games become more advanced, and consumers more sophisticated, the trend has been toward higher extended play value through immersive, painstakingly realistic simulation. These days, comprehensive statistics and piles of information to digest seem to be the only way to Get Your Money's Worth.
In response, the makers of this hot racing title simply say Let's race! Screamer shuns the pit stops, personnel moves, and car equipment upgrades that have become familiar to racing fans in favor of colorful, straightforward, hard-driving action. I, for one, am happy to see it. All you need to do is choose your car, choose your track, and hit the gas.
All this fun is not without its weak points. The graphics are good (despite the lack of apparent car damage and some polygon cutout in the tunnels), but the game slows noticeably in SVGA mode, where it looks best. In addition, the manual transmission cars perform noticeably better than the automatics, requiring you to master the more complicated driving style to succeed. Not a huge problem, but it's ironic considering that the game prides itself on its simplicity.
So where's the extended play value? It's in the variety of courses and it's in the four modes of play: the championship mode, the time trial mode, the cone mode (where hitting cones adds seconds to your time), and the slalom mode, where you have to drive between gates to add time. Each of these can be played on three difficulty levels.
But none of this is the point of this game. Screamer is for people who don't have five hours to spend analyzing which struts perform best in the snow on mountain terrain. They've got ten minutes, they're on the run, and they want a race. Whether it's against the computer or up to seven networked friends, a race is exactly what they're going to get.