By Matt Carey
I like cooking. Even though I have a limited palate, l love the process of taking many individual often disparate items, mixing them together just so and, hopefully, ending up with a dish that I or others will enjoy. Everything about it, I find pleasurable. Sure, sometimes you can end up with a dish that tastes something akin to licking a badgers backside, but it all comes down to what you use and how you use them. Ingredients are paramount.
Slick Entertainment must like cooking too, as their latest Live Arcade game, Scrap Metal, is an alluring blend of many sumptuous ingredients.
Those that have been around the block when it comes to gaming delicacies may remember a wonderful dish called Super Off Road. Released back in the early 90’s, the classic racer featured a top-down view with a variety of track designs ranging from simple to cunning, and easy to master controls. No-one has ever really thought to take this age-old favourite and update the ingredients before, and I’m at a loss to think why. Now though, my appetite has been well and truly fulfilled.
Scrap Metal follows the tradition of Super Off Road, with its top-down perspective and 8 tracks to master. However, this is no simple racer. Instead, Scrap Metal goes on to borrow from a great many other racing games over the years and features car customisations, upgrades, a garage, different cars to collect and different race types.
First off the bat, I have to give props to the graphics. This is truly a beautiful little game. Simplistic in design, yet nicely detailed, there is never more going on than needs to be. Even with all the mayhem and explosions going on all over the place, the screen never looks cluttered and you are never lost as to where you are or where you need to go. Given the explosive items and multiple cars dotted around, this is no mean feat.
As you might expect, there are a few options before pedal connects with metal. All the obligatory online options are there, with multiple race types present, and it’s a good, fun experience. You know when you have spent all night playing Modern Warfare 2 online with your mates, it gets quite late, and you all fancy a quick half hour on something simple before calling it a day? Well this is that game. Nothing too taxing, and good, honest fun.
Personally though, I think the single player career mode is really where it is at with this game. Slick Entertainment wisely realised that Scrap Metal would not succeed as just a bog standard racer, and as such have thrown a variety of game types into the mix. So, yes, there is the normal run of the mill races, but you also get survival missions, boss battles, demolition derbies, and so on. This helps keep things from going stale.
As I mentioned earlier, the cars are customisable. You can change the look of the cars, the paintwork, and even upgrade the abilities of the cars by way of points. These points are attained through the races or missions, and how much you get depend entirely on what and how you do during said race or mission. Each car also has its’ own weapon. These range from guns to saw-blades to flamethrowers. Each one has its own unique pros and cons, and certain weapons are more useful in certain situations. The key is finding out what will help you where.
Like many other racers these days, you have a garage. It holds up to four cars, offering a conundrum. Once you have filled all spots, do you spend your points on upgrading what you have, or do you hold out and hope you acquire a better car and then spend the points? To be honest, the cars aren’t really that much different, especially once you start improving their stats. But, the option is nice and does allow you to pick a range of cars and adapt them as you see fit.
There are two choices for controls too. There is the option to use something familiar, with steering and acceleration all mapped to sticks and buttons respectively. The more intuitive, and recommended method though is to use the one stick control scheme. Using the left thumb stick, the player can go left and right, obviously, but pushing in the direction you are facing also accelerates your car. Those not used to it may take a while to become accustomed, but anyone that has played games like Off Road, Micro Machines, or even Smash TV over the years will feel right at home. It isn’t always perfect – all too often I found myself getting stuck behind a piece of scenery before remembering that there are separate buttons for reverse or to reset your car on the track – but it is simplistic and defiantly the best option.
Scrap Metal then, is kind of like a prawn cocktail; a classic dish that seems a little passé, but one where in the right hands, and by adding a few new ingredients, the dish can make a revival and appeal to fans of the original and bring in new enthusiasts too. As far as the Live Arcade goes, and steering clear of the food analogy for a moment, Scrap Metal fills a gap. There is plenty here for all to enjoy. How much time you want to devote to it may be in question, but for the time you do spend with it, there are not many Arcade titles