Any loyal arcade racing fan will testify that some of the greatest thrills occur when your car breaks traction and the tail starts to come out from under you. It is these moments that tax a player's ability to the utmost - and separate the champions from the also-rans. The designers of Screamer 2 have decided to capitalize on this exhilaration by making a game where powerslides are the rule, not the exception. Unfortunately, the programmers at Milestone Studios seem to have forgotten the old maxim about "too much of a good thing."
Abandoning the "Ridge Racer" style gameplay of its predecessor, Milestone has replaced the 12 exotic road machines of the original with four customizable rally cars (although four additional cars are hidden within the game). While this reduction in the number of competitors is a bit of a letdown, the only real problem lies in the track design or, more specifically, the track surfaces. From the sand dunes of Egypt, to the rain-washed backroads of England, almost every track is covered with a slippery surface. To make matters worse, these cars even slide around on the few patches of dry asphalt found in the game. The end result is that the cars in Screamer 2 act more like hovercars than automobiles. While this unique twist is exhilarating for the first few hours, the novelty soon gives way to frustration as you helplessly bounce from wall to wall on the narrow, winding tracks.
Once you become accustomed to the loose controls, however, Screamer 2 can provide an enjoyable gaming experience. The action is fast and furious, and a hopping techno soundtrack certainly adds to the atmosphere. The opponent AI is surprisingly adept for a game of this type, and will give even seasoned drivers a run for their money. If you prefer a human opponent, the inclusion of split-screen head-to-head play is a welcome supplement to the traditional network options (although modem play is still not supported).
If there is one area where Screamer 2 excels, it is the graphics. From the rain forests of Colombia to the snowy peaks of Switzerland, Screamer 2 features some of the finest graphics ever seen in a video game. Not only are the cars and backgrounds beautifully rendered, but each of the six available courses literally comes "alive" with moving scenery. For example, helicopters buzz overhead, trolleys race along their tracks, and startled birds will take flight right in front of your windshield! While only the fastest machines on the market can handle the high resolution mode, the 320x200 mode serves up plenty of visual splendor. In conclusion, Screamer 2 is a good game marred only by sloppy control. Fortunately, the gorgeous graphics, incredible sound, and abundant multi-player options do compensate somewhat for the loose control scheme. At a pre-release MSRP of just $19.99, Screamer 2 is an outstanding value - quirks and all.