by William Thompson
previewed on PC
GoldenEye... only different
I've been gaming for quite some time now and have played on most gaming systems at one time or another, and personally owned more than a few. One system that I did not own was the Nintendo64. I was rather lucky though, because a mate of mine did. I would often go over to his house and we'd play for hours. The one game that we couldn't get enough of was GoldenEye, now a gaming classic (which is more than I can say for the Pierce Brosnan movie). The split screen local multiplayer game was heaps of fun as we ran around shooting each other, trying to get bragging rights with the most kills. As we played, we often worked out where the other was by looking at their screen. Some would call it cheating, others would say it was tactical.
Screencheat plays out much like GoldenEye or games like Quake Arena in that you run around the location attempting to dispose of your opponent(s). The thing that sets Screencheat apart from those others, is that looking at other players position on the split-screen is encouraged. In fact, it is absolutely necessary because... all the players are invisible.
Yes, that's right, invisible
So, in order to make a kill, you are required to look at their screen to ascertain their position. It may seem difficult, but once you get the hang of looking at both where you're going and where your enemy is going, it becomes quite easy. And although the opposition players are invisible, there are often some telltale signs of where they are. Whenever someone discharges one of their weapons, their position becomes apparent by the vapour trail of the rifle shot, the smoke trail of the grenade launcher, the shell casings of the blunderbuss, or the flames of the candlestick.
Games can be played either via a split screen local multiplayer, or, for those without friends, online with up to four players. Both play identically. At present, the weapons mentioned above are the only ones available (during the early beta), but the developers have eight lined up for the finished product. Each weapon has both its advantages and disadvantages. The grenade launcher, for example, has a large blast area, but its shots are easier to see, giving away your position. Also, you can accidentally harm yourself if you run into the grenade zone. The rifle allows four quick accurate shots and leaves a minimal trail, making it a great weapon to keep you invisible. But it takes longer to reload than the other weapons.
There are only two maps at this point, and they are fairly small, but with two to four players in a game, they feel about right in scope. The Museum map is probably my favourite of the two, with its layered rooms, the quick getaway zones and the dinosaur display in the middle. The other is an outdoor area known as the Garden. It feels slightly larger than the Museum with its four colour areas that merge together at a central statue. Hedges, large plant pots and park benches are scattered throughout the area. There are three more maps in development, and I'm certainly looking forward to exploring them at a later stage.
There are six different game modes, of which only two are playable during the beta. I did, however, have the chance to play a third, which is probably my favourite. The two playable modes during the initial phase of the beta are Deathmatch and King of the Hill. Deathmatch is self explanatory, requiring gamers to be the first to score the allotted amount of kills. King of the Hill requires competitors to stand in the hill area for forty seconds, all the while being attacked by the other competitors. The third mode that I played, which is not yet playable in the beta, is Murder Mystery. It is a rather cool mode that plays out like a game of Cluedo (or Clue, depending on where you come from). In it, the game sets a particular task to each of the combatants. Each player is required to kill a certain opponent with a particular weapon in a particular room (or coloured zone). Completing all three sections of the task gives maximum points. Other points are awarded for partial completion and for killing other players as per the traditional Deathmatch.
Nostalgic two to four player fun
Visually, Screencheat matches the nostalgic feel of playing GoldenEye. But with the nature of the game it works remarkably well. The bright colours for each of the areas make it simpler to work out where other opponents are located. The controls are simple as well, with both the keyboard/mouse combination and gamepad controller supported. As primarily a PC gamer, I found the keyboard and mouse combination easier to use, but I trust players with a console flavour would prefer the gamepad controls. With its simple controls, simplistic visuals and fun gameplay, Screencheat is well worth getting into, even with the two maps and two modes during the initial beta. And, if you get in during the beta, it's free.
Best. Value. Ever.