So last week we had Toy Soldiers the first Xbox Live Block Party title released and now this week we have Scrap Metal. Scrap Metal is a top down racing game with explosions and chaos in equal measure, the game has lots of missions, plenty of vehicles with weapons attached and has a customization aspect as well. You could think of this game as driving an RC around a small race track or in a demolition derby match, or a game of elimination perhaps and has bosses you beat.
As the controller of the RC if you will, you start the singleplayer side with a tutorial level which teaches you the basics of the game like the controls & weapons and lets you race against a few AI in order to get you used to games mechanics. After the tutorial you unlock your first vehicle which you take from the scrapyard. You can customize your vehicle like changing the color, adding a donut to the roof or adding vinyls. All does nothing to your vehicles performance but only add an extra aesthetic value. You can also upgrade your vehicle with various stuff like Speed, Armour, Grip & Firepower, each upgrade is limited to 2-3 upgrades and range in upgrade points from 1 – 30. These upgrade points are earned by clearing missions and gives you the an amount judged on your performance at the end. Each vehicle has different weapons varying from shotguns to missiles and even a flamethrower. These can’t be swapped from vehicle to vehicle and are only linked to the one specific vehicle. There is only one race mode you can’t use your weapons in, its called Elimination; The player in last position is eliminated from the race. The rest of the modes you can use your weapons. There are plenty of missions in this game each having different areas with bosses at the end of each area. As you move along and progress through the singleplayer you will unlock more faster and powerful vehicles which you will need for the latter races. You will unlock a variety a vehicles ranging from a muscle car, monster truck & even a bulldozer.
The controls have two options, the default control scheme uses the left stick and you point in the direction you want; and you can drive & steer the vehicle with one control button. The advance control scheme will be more familiar to any gamer who has played a racing game, with them you press RT to drive and use the left stick to steer. These controls are much more intuitive. On both control schemes you press A to fire your weapon. The controls are tricky to learn and will get you frustrated, but all I can say is stick with them and give them a chance. After awhile using them you will get used to them and will have no trouble at all. Overall the singleplayer was a solid play through. It was full of explosions and exciting races and provided a lot of fun and frustration in equal measure.
Multiplayer in this game is much the same as the singleplayer with a few exceptions. You can’t upgrade your vehicle. Instead your giving a set of vehicles for each of the game modes. You can however customize your car but its limited; you can only change the paint job on each vehicle. There is 3 game modes; Race, Derby & King of the Hill. Race is pretty much want the title says you race against 3 other Xbox Live players and the rest are AI. Derby is an all out war with everybody trying to destroy the other persons vehicle. King of the Hill is mix of both Race & Derby were you have destroy other vehicles and earn points and also race around a track. Online was great to play, it was much the same as the singleplayer. The lack of players in one lobby was a disappointment, there was only 4 players in each game mode with the rest being AI. If there was 8 players in a single lobby for each game mode it would have been better.
Whats great about this game is its graphics and attention to detail on the vehicles and the tracks. You may not be able to notice the detail on each car when your racing, but if you head back to the junkyard you can get a good look at the details. If your car is damaged you can head back to the junkyard and just watch your vehicle change from a total wreck back to a repaired vehicle gradually was a great feature. Another was the lighting on the tracks, it was perfectly lit and wasn’t too bright, this was important to catch the mood and the feel of a real demolition derby.
One thing that needed to be improved was the controllability of the vehicle. When I was drifting around corners sometimes my vehicle would spin out of control and if your not quick enough you will end up in last place. Now if this happens to you in an elimination race and you can’t manage to catch up you will have to restart the race again. It seemed like when my vehicle got to a certain angle while drifting it would spin and try and go into a different direction.
Scrap Metal was a good, it was fun to play but for me it was more frustrating at times. Scrap Metal was released under the Block Party promotion, but compared to last weeks title Toy Soldiers it feels mediocre, I’m not saying it’s a bad game because it’s actually one of the more fun XBLA games I have played in awhile I’m just not sure if I would be willing to shell out 1200MS Points for this one.