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Scrap Metal Review
Review Score:

Pedal to the Metal, Then shout in rage!

When I interviewed Slick Entertainment and Metanet Studios back in 2008 (N+), I came away from our live video interview thinking, these guys are really cool. They have a lot of passion for their work and it was at the interview that Nick Waanders let the cat out of the bag that Slick Entertainment were working on a combat racer. The racer soon turned out to be Scrap Metal, a game that resembled the combat racers of old such as Badlands and Super Cars II. When the first screenshots arrived we smiled and naturally when you have a good impression of the people behind the product, you naturally want it to succeed. Funnily enough this game has been embroiled in a little controversy, mainly because David Jaffe didn’t bother to research this game in detail. Somehow Jaffe believed that Scrap Metal was ripping off Twisted Metal, did David Jaffe even look at a single screenshot? If anything this little industryspat highlighted Scrap Metal. Microsoft leapt forward and also gave the game a highlighted release for their Block Party month. Not a bad amount of exposure then. The publicity was so intense for the game that even Slick had to call in Flash Fire Communications to deal with the PR.

Tracks on offer are....

So what is all the fuss about? Well, other than Vigilante 8 your combat racers are somewhat sparce unless of course you can include Mad Tracks into the fray. Top down combat racing was non existent on the platform and Microsoft’s last console only saw one game remotely within a similar theme with Mashed: Total Destruction. The game features sixty single player missions, split screen multiplayer, online multiplayer and an insane amount of weaponary at your disposal. Within the single player component you can build up and play through a variety of arena’s, all uniquely themed and play through challenges and get gold stars with a multitude of twenty cars on offer. The important thing with top down racers is making sure the control scheme is correct and Slick Entertainment have given you two different options available, one of which makes no sense. The easy control method requires no acceleration, just a brake and directional movement. This proves difficult if you want to reverse, which you’ll be doing allot of. The supposidly complicated control scheme is that of every racing game on the Xbox 360. Right trigger accelerate, Left trigger break. Simples. Controls on the surface appear easy to get used to but throw in some wet weather and basic tyres and you could be slipping around the corners to your doom, nice for the ardent hardcore gamer, not so for the casual.

In terms of the gameplay I have to take issue with the camera, it was obviously something that Slick pondered in production because they decided to keep it zoomed in that left and right turns would be indicated on the floor by the terrain. Smart move? Not in the slightest, especially in the later levels where you can fall off the track onto another piece later in the lap, frustrating when you wrestled your way to the lead. The camera issue coupled with the quirky handling of some cars had me throwing my controller in rage at some points. To be precise I went from loving this game, to hating it and then loving it again when it got easier. Boss fights are possibly the most irritating of them all, they aren’t even entertaining. You have to kill some random character who has been nicely rendered in the overlays but for the life of you, you have no idea who he is or what he even sounds like which renders them with no personality, no empathy for or hatred against them. Where the boss fights are bullshit is in the process it takes to defeat them. You have a set number of laps to destroy their vehicle but they will often be faster than you and their cars will have better handling. Put this together with the fact that they can increase their health through driving into themed garages strings out the boss fights longer than they need to be. The two issues i’ve raised in this paragraph leaves a Dirty Sanchez on what otherwise is a very good game.

Look at those cars!

Graphically Smash Cars is presented nicely, in split screen multiplayer it’s not the sharpest draw and the anaglyth 3D mode only supporting anaglyth 3D was a little disappointing but it does support a range of colours, which the website doesn’t state. I was quite looking forward to playing a new game in digital 3D, oh well. Perhaps I’ll pop on ebay and make a purchase at some point. The most impressive factor for me graphically was the detail and originality that is gone into the twenty vehicles on offer. You can customise the liveries, paint and accessories on the car and these are meld nicely with the madness of the game. You’ll notice the first car you get in the game has a pink donut accessory, nice. I can’t take any issue with the sound in the game, the music is grunge based and has a nice pace, I just wished that Slick Entertainment took the time to give the characters some voices, if it can be done on Mashed, it can be done on Scrap Metal. Some of the race courses are really nice, Downtown has a nice neon theme whilst the one set in the wetlands gives off nice residual water spray and has a general camo-jungle theme to it.

Throw this game online and this is where most of the fun can be had, whilst there aren’t anything more than leaderboards to keep you enticed, it appears from the early offerings that Scrap Metal could have a community on live that will stick to playing the game, here is hoping anyway. Matches are easy to set up and find, with lobbies available for most game types. You have your standard Destruction Derby events, King of the Hill and even Tank Wars to throw in some added variety. Perhaps one of my favorite races was being F1 cars with lasers strapped to our front noses, plaudits where it is due, I’d have never of thought of that. The game has some nice online achievements to coax you online too, winning a ranked match will net you some gamerscore. Scrap Metal also supports split screne multiplayer but this only really works for the less complex tracks, having the camera zoomed in without an adequate amount of time to make a response and the ability to fly off sections of the track just brings back the level of frustrating gameplay that the Micro Machines series had. Not needed.

Anyone for a destruction derby?

In essence Scrap Metal is a solid racer not without it’s flaws. Some pretty big flaws, I had a feeling this game had a dysphoria as to whether it was positioning itself to the casual player, or hardcore gamer because it has totally failed at embracing both. For those that like your gameplay without controller throwing moments, i’d say stay away from this title. Even with my young diet of playing games like Super Sprint and Badlands I even found this game ridiculously difficult at places and as such at intervals I just wanted to switch my Xbox 360 off and you don’t want that. I think Scrap Metal needed attention to detail in the right places, it went to town in areas like the car designs but didn’t look at issues such as the camera and difficulty spikes with much logic. To get through this game expect to unlock the later cars through playing through races of each level and returning to challenges you couldn’t beat, it’s not a sure fire success but it’ll help. So, from a reviewer that wanted to see this game succeed badly, I must leave you with a tough decision to make, do you take the 1200 Microsoft hit and make the best out of the games good bits, or do you spend it on other Block Party titles? Well, I certainly enjoyed Toy Soldiers a lot more, enough said.

VN:F [1.9.6_1107]
Rating: 10.0/10 (3 votes cast)
Scrap Metal Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 3 ratings
  • https://?u=TheFinalHighlander David Mcmurdo

    If only this game had been given a rubbish score, then I could have said, “Scrap Metal? CRAP METAL MORE LIKE LOL!”

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