The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
As a huge fan of the Twisted Metal series, I tend to get interested
in a game whenever I hear that vehicles and weapons are involved. Scrap
Metal is a downloadable title that fulfills both criteria, so I went in hoping for something of a
"Car Combat Lite" experience. It may not offer the fully fleshed-out vehicular carnage of a Twisted Metal game, but there's enough fun here to make it worth a look.One thing that immediately separates it from
other car combat titles is mission variety. Whereas series' like
Twisted Metal or Vigilante 8 typically stuck with arena-style
deathmatches, Scrap Metal regularly shifts between different styles of play and new gameplay mechanics. One mission might be a straightforward "blow up
the other cars" affair, while the next may be a Burnout-esque
elimination race. You could be participating in a survival gauntlet
against circus freaks, only to be met afterwards by a surprisingly
tolerable escort mission. There really aren't any game types that end up being so
groan-inducing that you'll dread playing them.Your vehicles handle well thanks to the easy to pick up control
scheme that has you directing speed and direction simply by aiming the left analog; another more challenging option resembles classic RC Pro-Am controls. Even with solid controls, the camera can be an
occasional issue. Similar to the first two Grand Theft Auto games, the view is perched above the action, making it difficult to take out
far-away opponents in Derby mode or prepare for upcoming turns during
the races.Vehicle customization plays a large role in Scrap
Metal, but there is one major stumbling block. Winning races
earns you points that you can use to upgrade your firepower, armor,
speed, and other abilities. You can also claim vehicles from your
defeated opponents to use as your own. In doing so, you have to place the new vehicle in
one of four slots in your garage, which means you'll oftentimes have to
replace vehicles into which you've invested a lot of upgrade points. When you do choose
to replace that Class 3 car that you've fully upgraded, you receive no
form of "resale" compensation. All of those points that you pumped into your vehicle are gone, and you no longer have access to it.Fans of
the Twisted Metal series know that a good chunk of its appeal comes
from its sick sense of humor and colorful characters. Scrap Metal makes
no attempt to be particularly edgy, and its characters are generic and
wholly uninteresting. Twisted Metal offered up classic characters such
as Sweet Tooth, Mr. Grimm, and Calypso, and Scrap Metal's "Jane
Junktrunk" just can't compete. Even the stages themselves are dull, offering no zaniness along the lines of blowing up the Eiffel Tower in Twisted Metal 2 or taking the ski lift warps in Vigilante 8. All of Scrap Metal's missions are straightforward affairs - you destroy the other cars or race them, with no real curveballs thrown into the mix.When you're finished with the
numerous single player missions, you can take King of the Hill, Derby,
and Race modes online. Gameplay doesn't change significantly when the
action is brought online, but a tense round of KOTH can be a fun
distraction if you're done with the missions.If Scrap Metal was
nothing but arena deathmatch missions, it would be much harder to
recommend. An awkward camera angle and the lack of creative characters
would keep it from being worth the asking price. However, the variety
of vehicle types and mission objectives should satisfy car combat fans
looking for signs of life in the genre.
Email the author Dan Ryckert, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.