|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|
Also, some of the modes are a little gimmicky, particularly the ones that don't involve racing at all, but instead focus solely on destruction. These are a lot like Mario Kart's Battle Mode; they're fun for very young kids, and an adult will find them amusing for a few minutes, but in the end, they're just kind of silly. To make matters worse, you have to complete levels based on these ideas to progress in the single-player career mode.
Of course, old-school games are always the most fun with a few friends. You can play Scrap Metal with up to three other people locally, fighting each other in all the game modes that are available in single-player. This offers hours of shoot-'em-up racing action, though we found the online play a little less entertaining. It's handled well on a technical level, but there's such a thing as too many gamers with high-powered weapons on the same race track.
The presentation is far from great, but it's acceptable. The graphics are a nice update to the 8- and 16-bit visuals we're used to seeing in top-down racers, even if they're nowhere near cutting-edge, and the race tracks have a good variety of environments. There are seven towns to race in, each with a series of races leading up to a boss. You can customize your many cars in countless ways, from paint to decals to accessories. The cartoonish-looking boss avatars and cheesy written dialogue are off-putting, but they don't pop up enough to get in the way of the game too much. The audio provides exactly what it should: energetic rock music, loud engine noises, and no announcer. Yes, Rock N' Roll Racing had a great announcer in "Loudmouth Larry," but we can't think of another racer, top-down or otherwise, that's had one since.
Finally, a quick note on a bonus feature: Scrap Metal has a 3-D display mode that's compatible with all TVs (and old-school cardboard glasses). While it makes everything "pop" a lot more, it's not exactly a game-changing experience. Nonetheless, we're glad that some developers are working with 3-D in ways that don't require 1080p resolution (as, for example, the Avatar game did).
Scrap Metal doesn't top Rock N' Roll Racing for pure fun, but it's really the only option top-down-racing fans really have these days. Neither Rock N' Roll Racing nor its well-known predecessor, R.C. Pro-Am, is available for download on any of the three current consoles. Taking that into account, Scrap Metal is a decent if slightly overpriced buy.
CCC Freelance Writer