Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy -
March 23rd 2005
American McGee is getting some exposure to the console world with his gem of a find, Scrapland. Scrapland brings an original experience in a robotic world filled with adventure, mystery and fast paced action.
Scrapland follows the trend of many of this generations videogames and blends different elements of gaming together. If you need to classify Scrapland in one shot it should should be described as an "action adventure" title. Scrapland follows the free roam idea from other games like 'Grand Theft Auto' by letting you explore and abuse the vibrant world Mercury Steam created.
You will take control of a metallic blue scrap metal robot named D-Tritus who lands on an asteroid called Scrapland. You'll quickly learn that scrapland is a complex place with an aura of mystery. Only virus free robots with a job can enter the patched up city, so you start your journey working the job no one else wanted, a reporter! Ouch, Journalism! On Scrapland everyone must have a job, and that's just one piece of politics which layers the game.
Scrapland's buzzing metal-tropolis feels alive and closely resembles the futuristic look of the motion picture 5th Element. There is no Mila Jovovich, only one female red plated vixen named Betty. The overall selection of character is great in Scrapland personality wise, but I wish there was more then the handful of characters walking about. Compared to a free roam game like Grand Theft Auto, Scrapland can be a little repetitive. The trick to Scrapland is that you can play more than just the lead character. By illegally hacking in the other robots, or the Great Database you can take over the matrix of different robots helps break up the monotony of the city. Different robots have their own unique abilities such as stealing cash as a banker or arresting and accepting bribes as a cop. Scrapland might be shinny on the outside, but there is a dark underbelly which some seedy characters.
One great quality to Scrapland is the game is story driven and the plot stays interesting for the whole journey. Although the missions can be similar at times, its still allot of fun to uncover the pieces of this twisted conspiracy story. Someone should tell D-Tritus to be a little more assertive, but in his own Colombo way he gets the job done. The missions range from assassinations, bribery to escorting and all out rampages which adds to the variety of the game. Scrapland usually makes you complete a number of goals before you accomplish your main objective. This mission structure is good if you can't get enough action, but at times it feels a little tiresome.
Scrapland is fairly challenging on Normal mode, so experienced gamers might have some fun. If you're having troubles keep at it and don't let the controls get you down. The controls can be a little tricky in the beginning like any 3D flying game, but once you get the hang of it you'll be an ace in the sky. Try out both control schemes, myself I went with the alternative controls which are more like most vehicle games. I found the standard robot missions are easier then the flying missions, but don't mistake that easy for simple. Scrapland can get a little tricky and you'll have to use some trial and error techniques.
Overall the gameplay is fun and mildly challenging in Scrapland. At times the game can feel a little repetitive, but there are some side missions you can choose to do if you get sick of the main mission. Scrapland is something new, and I'm sure Mercury Stream has a strong future ahead of them.
Graphics & Sound
Scrapland is a stylish ambitious title with a special artistic flair. What else could we expect from the man responsible for the PC hit Alice? Scrapland immediately reminded me of Cybertron, the home planet of the Transformers with a twist 1950's inspiration added. Visually it's like no other futuristic titles we've seen before on this scale. The dynamic lighting and colour scheme brings a vibrant glow that reminds me on the Vegas strip's neon glow. With so many other games leaning towards dark schemes its nice to see a game with a wide variety bright colours. The character models and animation are also well done, and each character has their own colour coated thing going on. Visually Scrapland looks beautiful all around while keeping it colourful.
On the musical end, the rave inspired score by Oscar Araujo and Eugeni Martinez is pretty interesting at times and slightly drab on others. The music is usually kept to a minimum and really starts to picks up when there is a battle. The music is more atmospheric so even if you're not a fan of the trance type groove it's not something that will annoy you constantly. The voice work is satisfactory and I'm glad to see this isn't one of those text adventures. All the characters have their own tones and fit accurately with their robotic image. I can appreciate the hours they put into working in the sound booth.
Scapland innovates and almost proves that there are still fresh ideas out there. We are seeing more blended styles of gameplay which is applicable to Scrapland, but Scrapland does more by giving the game atmosphere. Scrapland is original, although it borrows from old game ideas. The world that is presented in the game is very believable and is functioning on many different levels. At times I felt like I was playing F-Zero, and others Metal Arms. Scrapland's creative ideas like controlling other characters or being able to build customizable space crafts have been done before, but when added to world help make this a more engrossing title. Scrapland in gameplay isn't a mark for innovation, but in atmosphere and originality it succeeds.
Original themed games don't come around every day, so our mojo-score recognizes Scrapland's valiant attempt at being fresh. This asteroid seems like a cool place to hang out and if even a like D-Tritus can have some fun, you know that is true. D-Tritus isn't a cool lead character, but his naive personality and no morals helps him get the job done. D-Tritus has no qualms about doing anything and will do almost anything if you ask him. If his character doesn't cut the cake there are several other which can give the mojo a boost. Switch up characters and have some fun, try out the Messenger or even the little Stapler robot can provide some fun. One of my favorites is the Head Banker who twirls his metal cane to increase your funds catch wind and turn you into scrap.
Mercury Steam has surprised us all with their sci-fi adventure tale Scrapland. This original presentation from American McGee is a nice diversion from everything else on the market. Scrapland is definitely worth the low price of admission and anyone who is curious should pick this one up.
Gameplay: 8, Graphics/Sound: 9, Innovation: 7, Mojo: 8. Final: 8