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Scrap Metal Review

Any racing fans out there ever wondered what would happen if you threw old school NES game R.C. Pro AM and a game like Full Auto or Twisted Metal into a blender? Well Slick Entertainment did, and the result is their newest XBLA game, Scrap Metal. Arriving on the heels of their well-received first outing, N+, does Scrap Metal have what it takes to outshine the competition? Or is it another layer on the junkyard pile?

Scrap Metal is one of many car destruction games where the destruction is not so subtly hidden in a racing aspect. The game lets you race around various courses, trying to cause as much chaos as possible en route to victory. In fact, you don’t even have to be in the lead to win the race. On more than one occasion when I found myself lagging behind in 6th or 7th place with only a few laps to go I managed to pull out a victory by single-handedly destroying every other car on the course. Hey if there aren’t anymore cars ahead of you then you win by default, am I right?

Scrap Metal lets you choose from various cars as you progress through the game from extreme hotrods to bulldozers to drag racers, semi-trucks and offroad buggies, etc. There are 20 vehicle options in all, each with the ability to customize the paint and details. I became particularly fond of the Classic Cruzer because of its flame paint job and pink fuzzy dice. Aesthetics aside, the cars also have abilities that are able to be upgraded to different degrees based on the amount of points you rack up from your progress. Want to make your car go faster? Spend points and give it an upgrade. Want to make your machine guns even more deadly? Upgrade them. You can also upgrade you car’s grip and armor but it is up to you which of these you upgrade and in what order.

The game controls fairly well, provided that you choose a control scheme that you can utilize effectively. I preferred controlling the acceleration and direction myself, but if you want a “point in one direction and go” style that is here for you as well. As far as buttons go you accelerate, brake and use weapons. That’s basically it. It’s simplistic but a game like Scrap Metal doesn’t need to be complicated. It works because it is extremely satisfying when you learn to control your acceleration around corners in order to blast the car in front of you with your flamethrower at just the right distance.

The cars themselves handle extremely sensitive. Sometimes I felt like I was driving on ice because my car would do a 360 while trying to make a sharp corner. This could be adjusted for by slowing up and really concentrating on your driving technique, but in a face paced game like this it is a momentum killer. Once you pick up on the controls the game becomes a blast. The only real frustration is when you run into something small on the environment and you lose the momentum you had going. But with power-ups like Nitro, which gives you a significant boost of speed, you should not have a problem getting back into the race.

Problem with the “career” mode is that you are only allowed to keep four vehicles in your garage at a time and with over 20 to choose from once you unlock them; finding and using the best ones/ones you really like can actually be more of a burden than fun. Also, if you decide to upgrade one of your early cars and then replace it for something else the upgrades that you spent your points on are gone forever, even if you decide to bring that car back. This is kind of a bummer when the point of the game is to try and have both a faster/more armored car and also more firepower than the competition.

Scrap Metal’s visuals are impressive with enough details to keep the graphic aficionados happy, but gritty enough to give the game its own unique feel. From the crowd to the tracks themselves, everything is well designed and really adds to the immersion of the game.

Sound in the game is also fairly well done. Each roar of the engine and machine gun blast sounds as loud as their real-life counterpart. The various other sound effects in the game along with the generic rock music fit the mold of the game perfectly.

With multiplayer modes such as demolition derby, king of the hill, and a "Survivor" game where you try to complete laps while constantly being accosted by police cars and other enemies, Scrap Metal offers a lot of re-playability. With local multiplayer and Xbox Live, the car “smashing n’ racing” goodness can continue for as long as you like. Online demolition derby is a blast and so is king of the hill.

At 1200 Microsoft points Scrap Metal offers a lot of fun for its price, if you enjoy car combat games. If you are kind of skeptical about the kind of fun you will have blowing stuff up while racing around, then this might not be the game for you. But with the variety of missions and customization the game offers a lot of fun. If you are ready for a fun thrill ride then buckle your seatbelt and get ready to destroy the competition.

- Matt W.

article id: 1043 | poster: OG

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