XBOX REVIEW: SCRAPLAND

If you accidentally played Robots or were warned against it by our review, don't despair Scrapland is here. It's the game that Robots could have been - if it were good.

Scrapland has virtually everything that you could wish for in a game although a little more gameplay variety would be welcome. It's loaded with humor, action, great graphics, interesting characters and a kicking soundtrack. Even the voiceovers are good and I sure didn't expect that. Developer, MercuryStream, has done a commendable job in bringing this robotic world to life. Something that Eurocom failed to do with Robots.

Chimera is an asteroid inhabited by robots. D-Tritius makes his way there only to find that only job available is that of a lowly journalist. Obviously MercuryStream has confidence that this game is good enough to warrant great reviews, or else it's under the impression that journalists have a good sense of humor.

If you don't have a sense of humor then Scrapland isn't for you. There's more to this game than the gameplay. It's like taking a tour in someone's powerful imagination. You have to wallow in all of the details. Okay, back to the story…

D-Tritus finds himself in the middle of a murder investigation. All robots are essentially protected by the Great DataBase where they can be re-uploaded should an accident or erasing occur. The Great DataBase contains information on all of the robots. It doesn't take our hero very long to hack into it and find ways to change himself into different versions of robots. They are more than just disguises, it's like playing an entirely new character. Certain robots must be used to complete some missions. You don't want to get caught in another robots' skin. There are guards everywhere, on the ground and in the sky. You have to sneak around them, hide or run. They have a bad habit of scanning robots to make sure that everything is in order.

You have the power to "over-write" a robot right on the spot. That amounts to murder and can trigger an alarm. If you set one off you'll have to hide until the heat cools down. There's a meter to indicate the threat level. Lives are three for 1000 credits but you don't really need them since you can save your progress anywhere and start over from your last save.

There's nothing like a little spaceship piloting to break up the gameplay. Although you start with a small and limited ship you can purchase bigger ones that you can customize with better weapons, armor and more powerful engines. These spaceships are a lot of fun to use. The physics is just right and you can lock-on to enemies, not with weapons but with a force that attracts your ship to theirs. This makes dogfights a lot easier since you can lose your opponent in the vastness of space quite easily.

Weapons start out with clutter missiles and chainguns which do the trick but eventually you will graduate to an electrically charged Tesla gun and a Devastator. Each ship has certain weight and room restrictions which means that you can't just throw everything onto one ship and make it indestructible. You have to use some strategy to balance all of your additions. If the weapons and armor are heavy, the ship will be slow and may require a more powerful engine. The interface is a little confusing when it comes to customizing so take some time and experiment to see what you can get away with. In some cases you can actually add things directly on top of previous additions although it's not clearly stated on the interface.

Money can be acquired rather easily in the game although it can be a tedious process involving collecting and fetch quests. You'll need money for bigger and better spaceships as well as upgrades. They can get expensive and they take on a lot of damage. Sometimes you can just steal one or you can just forget about it and take the subway to get to your destination if you're a little short on cash.

Scrapland is a linear game and there's lots of fetch quests. Most of the challenge is navigating through the huge levels. Fortunately there's a map that shows you where you are but it's still easy to get lost. To make the most out of this game you definitely have to stop and smell the roses. The NPCs are funny and witty. There's a lot of satire in the game that pokes fun at our society through the eyes of robots. The architecture is amazing with a blend of highly polished metallic surfaces jutting into the sky and organic terrain. I don't use the term eye-candy a lot in reference to videogames but I wouldn't hesitate to use it to describe the environments you'll see here.

Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Capture the Flag multi-player modes are a nice addition. They don't offer anything beyond a solid experience but it's an added bonus to be surrounded by such great graphics.

I hope that Scrapland gets the recognition that it deserves. It's one of the reasons that the Xbox was invented. The PS2 wouldn't do it justice. I can't wait to see what the developers will come up with next.

Preview By Chris

Scrapland is going to be one of those games that will have players thrown into a whole new world. Only in this world the only people you can trust are Robots or can you? Long time members of the site may remember that Cole loves robots. He has a huge collection and a few of us dig them as well. Perhaps not to the extent that Cole likes them but hey whatever someone enjoys is fine by me. Scrapland sounds like it will throw several different game elements and combine them into one Sci-Fi adventure. The game has been described as "a film noir murder mystery set in the world of robots". That is how American McGee describes the game. It will have the free roaming levels of GTA 3 and action and racing thrown in. Oh yea and you get to blow up ships that are beating you or are becoming an annoyance!

Space travel, being wanted by the cops, high speed chases and yes you guessed it more robots are all included. It also has a look and feel of a real movie. Some have mentioned the movie Blade Runner and other Sci-Fi classics. The game also will have puzzles to solve, more than ten different space ships and you will have to interact with the characters in the game. Both the Xbox version and the PC version will be identical except for the controls and a few of the modes. The game will be suited for those that enjoy games you play online and for those who prefer a great offline game in one.

As I watched the trailer and read the press information on this one, I loved what I saw so far. The screen shots look great and if the graphics are as good as the screen shots lead you to believe, this may be one game to look out for after Christmas. The main character in this one is D-Tritus who just happens to have a love interest by the name of Betty. You may have seen this one coming because she just happens to be a robot. Some may find that a little strange but the game is set in the future. I hope robots in that time period are rust proof?

Those who had a chance to play the demo walked away impressed. The controls will have a lock on feature and seem to be set up perfectly for everything this one has to offer. As of right now it looks like this one will be a 1-player game with possible multiplayer modes but this cannot be confirmed at this time. Take a look at the screen shots the show some great things and some of the characters in the game.

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System: XBOX
Dev: MercuryStream
Pub: Enight
Released: March 2005
Players: 1 - Multi Online
Review by Stew XX
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
4.5
GRAPHICS
5.0
CONTROL
4.0
MUSIC/FX
4.0
VALUE
3.5