Racing games... somewhere, someone is always making another one. In the last month we've seen ten or more racing games and they've ranged from realistic to arcade, bad to good, fun to boring. After playing some of the finer examples, it somewhat influences your judgement of other games. S.C.A.R.S. from UbiSoft kind of falls into this category.
It's yet another arcade style game similar to Buggy, which I reviewed about a month ago. It's more along the lines of a futuristic racer, but it's softened down into a revamped clone of the classic Wacky Wheels. You have the choice of a few cars which are modeled after animals and insects. Each have their own handling characteristics and there are, of course, advanced cars that you'll be able to use once you get far enough to unlock them.
The game background itself is very similar to DethKarz. Drive fast, pick up powerups, and shoot at your opponents. It's not geared to be the extremely fast paced, more serious like DethKarz. This scales it down to the more sedated arcadish style that's suited for younger gamers. Granted, Wacky Wheels was fun for all ages, but it was definitely geared more toward ages 10-15 or so.
The environment for SCARS is bright and lively. It's very smooth and polished looking. The explosions and special effects are nicely done, but still pale when compared with arcade games like Plane Crazy or DethKarz. There's no damage modeling or any other more advanced effects I've enjoyed in other games. It's definitely got Buggy beat hands down although the games are very similar graphically. The menus in Buggy are terrible though. They're not pleasant to look at and under D3D they were sort of fuzzy. It is 3D only and uses D3D and 3Dfx (which wouldn't run for me). It does give quite a few graphics options from 320x200 to 1024x768 at 16 bpp or 32 bpp. Not many games do the 32 bpp yet so it's a nice option. (The Voodoo chipsets won't do 32 bpp either)
The sound is adequate. Nothing spectacular here. The engine noise is well done so that it's not annoying. You can hear multiple engines when other cars are near but no great 3D sound. The sound effects are nice enough to add a little bit to the environment.
It's a simple racer. You race circuits and get scored for how well you do. It will also give you bonus points for "damaging" other cars if you're the high scorer during a race. You will get a certain amount of points each time you use your weapons on your opponents so if you can rack up enough points you'll get an extra point to add on to your scoring. It has 4 circuit levels, which you'll have to beat the lower ones in order to unlock the higher ones. This will also unlock some better cars. You'll get some nifty weapons to use around the track by picking up powerups. Some of these are ranged weapons and some are traps for stopping the opponents. The races aren't extremely difficult, but then it's intended to be a fun racer. It reuses the tracks during each circuit, but it will change them to race at night. The night racing is probably the most fun since you can't see well outside of your headlights and that makes it a little more interesting. I'm a little miffed about one thing though. I found no way to change the buttons for a gamepad. It uses a four button scheme which puts the weapon button in a hard place to press on my 10 button gamepad. It would let you configure the keyboard, but I couldn't find anyway to change the gamepad.
Entertaining... maybe, but not for a real long time. I thought it was a little fun at first, but after playing Buggy and DethKarz, I just wasn't really in the mood for "another" racer. It may be okay if you have a friend over for it's split screen racing, but otherwise it's not the best way to waste time.
It's pretty much "just another racer." There's better out there. It doesn't have the graphics to withstand games like PowerSlide and DethKarz and it just doesn't have the entertainment level I got from the preminent arcade racer Wacky Wheels. I'd suggest getting something else to waste time with. This one might be better off in the bargain bin, because it's just not a standout.
Highs: Reasonably smooth graphics
Lows: Split screen is the only multi option, it's nothing special
SCARS is one of the new types of racing games out today which make racing a lot more enjoyable, normal racing is usually dull and just isn't very entertaining anymore. Dethkarz (also a racing game) is a little similar to this game. In SCARS you race on off-road tracks and each car has its own representative animal from which you can choose. Some of the animals I know you can choose from include the lion, the mammoth elephant, the rhino, the shark, and the praying mantis. You can get more animals such as the Cobra and Scorpion by winning races. Each car has attributes and each attribute is related to the animal it is associated with. For example, the elephant seems to have more weapon and crashing power because a real elephant is massive in size and has great strength.
There are nine tracks available in SCARS with only two being available at the beginning: Aztec and Island. The remaining tracks are playable once you win a specific amount of races. Some tracks seem to represent a type of geographical region while others seem to suggest a type of racing style. All nine of the track names are Aztec, Island, Ski, Rally, Canyon, Mountain, Water, Blade, and Pipe. You may choose from four types of conditions to use on the track: Clear Sunny Day, Afternoon, Severe Thunderstorm, and Nighttime. There are also three modes of racing to play Grand Prix, Challenge and Time Attack. When you choose Grand Prix you may choose a cup to try to win or you can create your own custom cup in which you may choose which tracks to race and what conditions to play in. Some of the cups that you can try and win include the Carbon, Crystal, Diamond and Zenith cups.
There are various weapons to pick up in SCARS such as Boomerangs, Magnets, Timebombs, Bullets, and a Shield. Weapons are picked up the same way as in Dethkarz: you just drive over them and you have them to use. One funny thing is when you pick up a timebomb and place it on another car then the other car has the ability to give it back to you so it becomes almost a game of hot potato. Additionally when you pick up items in SCARS you are able to charge up the specific item you picked up. You also could charge in Dethkarz but that was only with the primary weapon you had not the items you could pick up. A downside to the game is that its powerup weapons are 2D, I don't really think that was needed to be done because SCARS does not have a very complex environment and I believe this game could be run on a p100 with 3DFX.
Weapons basically do not require any aiming at all: they automatically hit the car that is closest to you. The only exception is the Bullets weapon that does have a crosshair come up when you pick it up. I felt that the inability to aim was a downside to the game. Even though I said that the environments aren't very complex, they still look good and the textures are nicely done. I cannot say the same for its special effects though. The special effects are not even comparable to Dethkarz' or basically any other good 3DFX game. They are very low quality and do not really use the power that 3DFX can offer. SCARS' rain effects are not well done either. Need for Speed 3 really showed great rain effects but SCARS seems to just have some fog and passable rain. The car models are pretty small, they look like ATV's (All Terrain Vehicles) and I guess they are supposed to since most of the tracks represent geographical locations with lots of different terrain.
Yet another downside is that the tracks are very linear and static. What I mean by that is, if you see a sign on the side path of the road and you don't quite make that turn then you just crash into nothingness and it bumps you back into the track rather than pushing the sign down. The sound to the game does not stand out much. SCARS mainly uses repetitive engine sounds and some notification sounds for the powerup items. I also did not hear raindrop sounds during the thunderstorm conditions. There is also NO multiplayer in this game, which is another downside. Most games today have multiplayer and should continue to have it supported in future games. The control to SCARS was fairly easy and you can also make your car jump in this game, not many racing games support this option so that is at least one good thing.
The races aren't that hard to beat because you don't have to do any aiming when you pick up weapons. Therefore, all you have to do is just shoot all the other cars and speed toward the finish line. Each track looks very different than the other tracks because they are set in different regions, which is a nice touch. This game is fairly fun to play and it would be fun to try to win those special tracks and cars and the special challenge mode. Also, after you finish the main game you can try the time attack mode. I found, however, that this game gets boring after a week's play because it's not up in the ranks of Dethkarz. Dethkarz is a similar game to this that does not have off-road tracks but has futuristic tracks. It also uses all of 3DFX's power and in my opinion it is a much better game. You might have fun playing SCARS for a few days but after that you will just lose interest with it.