Scrap Metal – An Xbox LIVE Arcade Review

Scrap Metal is a new game available on the Xbox LIVE Marketplace that has you taking control of miniature cars meant for the pulverizing of other mini cars. With similarities running very close to those of Sony’s Twisted Metal, the feel of Scrap Metal can be a fun, yet generally misguided, experience.

Scrap Metal starts you out with a default car that just manages to get you by in the destruction derby-esc world that you play in. Your car is actually the size of a remote control car outfitted with various weapons and gear to allow you to pass through multiple stages and world locales. To progress you must acquire a certain number of stars from various challenges within an environment, not the most original but it works. After completing a certain number of tasks you have the chance to face the area boss and take him out or beat him according to the rules of the challenge. Challenges get progressively harder and your vehicles become more robust as you acquire each vehicle driven by a defeated area boss.

There is no particular story to this little game but that really isn’t the point of an arcade style game. The main feature here is the ability to play 4 player split-screen or online with others who seek to become scrap metal themselves. It’s a nice feature to see again as couch-side co-op seems to be going out the window due to internet connectivity. Players can choose from a sizeable list of cars unlocked for multiplayer use and customize the colors and look of each. The customizing options are a good amount for a small game ranging from speed, armor, weapons, or nitro upgrades to be purchased with coins earned from the single player campaign. Game modes are also a good mix, from King of the Hill to Demolition Derby, but they seem too few for a game that has the split screen feature. A short list of game modes is something that can shorten the life of a game very quickly and depending on what type of gamer you are, this may be what stops you from purchasing the game.

Gameplay is fun and hectic as cars whiz around you trying to remove the latest coat of armor that you applied while you were setting up for the next round. However there is a major issue that kept me from really enjoying the game, the actual driving controls. When it comes to driving around trying to aim your weapon of choice, machine gun, flamethrower, or rockets, it is near impossible to actually get your car aimed in the proper direction due to a wonky control scheme. The basic driving layout, right-trigger to go and left to brake and what not, are not the issue but the sticks themselves and how they tell the car to drive are very unorthodox. If driving around an open area is bad enough driving around a track is near impossible. As you cruise down a straight-away a left hand curve is approaching you so trace the track with the analog stick but your car goes in the opposite direction. Due to the camera being at birds-eye-view the whole time the controls don’t match what you would expect of a racing game so in a sense they are flipped when it comes to certain parts of the map. Having played numerous driving games it was difficult to try and unlearn what I had trained my thumbs to do when presented with a turn. This one aspect was what really put me off to the whole experience.

Visually Scrap Metal is a nice looking game. With an output of 1080p it runs smooth and has a grungy color pallet to accentuate the demolition derby atmosphere. Your car will get dings, nicks, and scrapes as you fight off other cars and will show a good amount of body damage as the battles rage on. The environments are a nice size but it would have felt better if the entire outside of the map wasn’t pure black to mark off where it was you couldn’t go. It felt like I was playing on top of a huge plateau in space or something instead of in an arena. Another aspect that didn’t seem to fit for me was the anime style characters and presentation. I expected to see something like a heavy metal style delivery but I guess that would be running too close to Twisted Metal.

Scrap Metal runs for 1200 Microsoft points on the Xbox LIVE marketplace and may be worth it to those looking for a game to pass the time. With a nice selection of environments, various, but few, play modes, and a sizeable upgrade system Scrap Metal is something that would make for a good play if the controls didn’t get in the way. If you like racing game I suggest staying away from this title unless you are up to the challenge of re-learning how to steer a digital vehicle. Those that aren’t too muscle-memory oriented will enjoy the features this game offers at a decent price. Scrap Metal earns, “Worth a Buy” from StuffWeLike.

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