|System: X360 (XBLA)||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Slick Entertainment||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Microsoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 10, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Andrew Groen
January 21, 2010 - Scrap Metal is about two things: racing fast and blowing people up. Thankfully, there are probably no two things we love more, especially when you put them together. So, it's with great interest that we're monitoring the progress of Xbox LIVE Arcade title Scrap Metal as it makes its way through development and nearer to availability. Not because we think it's the kind of game that's going to revolutionize narrative form in gaming, or because we think it's going to provide awe-inspiring vistas powered by ultra-powerful graphics engine, but because this game just flat out looks like fun. It's pure arcade racing at its most distilled, and it plays quite a bit like Micro Machines, with a hefty dose of Twisted Metal. Who could possibly say that doesn't sound like fun?
At this year's Consumer Electronics Show, we were given a chance to go hands-on with this game and came away with a lot of very positive feelings, but also with a few worries. The concept is, without a doubt, very engaging, and it sounds like a lot of fun. However, our only major concern about the game is the cost. We don't yet know how much the game is going to be introduced at, but a lot is dependent on that. From what we've seen, if they try to price the game at the top-end of the pricing scale ($15) it will most likely not end up being worth the price. But, if it's at the low end ($5) this could be a must-own title that every Xbox owner should take a chance on.
The gameplay of Scrap Metal plays out like we described above; small cars racing furiously around a track trying to blow each other up. However, this game comes with one feature that you're probably not expecting to see. The most unique (and puzzling) thing about Scrap Metal is that it's going to ship with 3D functionality built in as an option for the player. It can be activated or deactivated on a whim, whenever the player chooses. Now, this isn't exactly the high-tech 3D stuff that Sony was showing off last week. This is similar to the early 90's 3D technology they used to have at Disney World, which means, you guessed it, you'll have to wear those cardboard glasses with the red and blue lenses in order to make it work. We were able to test out the functionality for ourselves, and it actually works pretty well, at least, better than you might remember. It adds a little something extra to the simple gameplay, and a little more energy to those awesome moments when you explode an enemy car with a well-placed missile.
The gaping hole in this plan, though, is that Scrap Metal is a downloadable game on Xbox LIVE. So, unless you already have a pair of 3D glasses sitting around the house (which we can't imagine very many people do), you won't be able to access the 3D visuals.
We're not entirely sure what the logic is in this move, but we suspect that you may see some type of promotion at GameStop. Perhaps some type of advertisement display with free Scrap Metal 3D glasses. We even spoke to the developers about this very question, and as of yet, they have no plans for how this will work out. At this point, you'll have to acquire your own 3D glasses if you want that feature; though we doubt too many people will go out of their way for this, as it doesn't substantially affect gameplay.
The visuals themselves are good enough to carry the game without the gimmick of tacked-on 3D enhancements. Of course, they're not the best in the gaming business, and they're not even the best among downloadable Xbox LIVE games. However, they do their job well enough, conveying the theme of the game appropriately. We weren't given much back-story on the game, but the demo level clearly took place in some kind of junkyard. Other levels have also been shown, all seemingly with the same vaguely dystopian, dirty, dingy feel.
If all of that isn't enough to convince you, here's one of the most important bits: it's being developed by the creator of N+, which you may remember as one of the best games on Xbox LIVE, and one of the greatest flash games ever made. They've stated that their goal is to inject classic 1990's racing gameplay with modern trappings like physics, 3D, and track bosses.
The release date has not yet been officially announced, but it's currently slated for the second quarter of 2010.
CCC Freelance Writer