We've found ourselves comparing a few titles to GTA in recent months. The upcoming Boiling Point and STALKER are both exhibiting signs that they may end up aping the freeform mission structure of the Rockstar classic, but saying Scrapland is like GTA is a little like companng Supermarket Own-brand Lager to the real thing - the concepts are the same, but the former is considerably watered down. Thankfully though, Scrapland doesn't taste like piss.
At the centre of its imaginatively realised sci-fi world is a robotic chap by the name of D-Tritus. who has constructed -himself from, erm, detritus. After happening upon the titular planet inhabited entirely by metal guys and gals, D-Tntus becomes a journalist, the lowliest job in the galaxy" (ho ho ho. our sides are splitting). Soon enough, the mechanical Archbishop gets bumped off, and our intrepid robot chum is assigned to cover the story.
The reason this particular murder is such a big deal revolves around Scrapland's central conceit - the Great Database. This is basically a massive hard drive that stores all the information needed to replicate robot citizens upon their destruction effectively granting immortality.
However, the Archbishop's file been stolen rendering his erasure one that's more permanent than usual.
Your investigation entails a series of missions given by a variety of shady characters, which are split across two main sections -indoor areas that are traversed on foot, and huge outdoor space lanes that draw an obvious influence from The Fifth Element. The latter in particular do a splendid job of showing off the massive, remarkable game world, rendered with a mixture of bright colours and a sizeable dollop of vision. The foot-based sections are riddled with neat touches too, such as the areas of floor that raise up from below to meet your feet as you run across an expanse. For the first few hours, simply running around this gorgeous world is enough to stroke your entertainment organ. There's also the promptly-awarded ability to transform into a number of different characters through the use of the Great Database, or by simply overwriting anyone you bump into. This is considered illegal though, so whenever you're using this ability, you have to steer clear of the scanning beams of the beholders - floating globes that'll alert the robot cops to your law-breaking antics given half a chance.
Unfortunately, there comes a point when you're through with marvelling at the scenery, have finished chuckling at the amusing but sadly limited selection of satirical characters, and have tired of taking your ship around the vast cityscapes. Once the novelty has outstayed its welcome, you're left with the missions to keep you going. There are only two main mission threads - one advances the story, and the other lets you complete challenges in exchange for spaceship parts and the likn That's not tn say the game doesn't live up to its promise of being freeform, at least to a certain extent. You're free to pick which thread to follow at any particular time, and you can challenge any of the world's inhabitants to a race or some ship-to-ship combat to earn cash, which is mainly used for building custom ships. Sadly, there's little that distinguishes these side missions from the stream of missions you need to follow to move the story on.
In those first few golden hours, there's larke-a-plenty to be had in accepting missions to wipe out other robots, or to hop into your ship and destroy some cops. As the missione start to blur into the same two or three variations on a theme however, what was previously a pleasure gradually turns Into a repetitive chore. Run across the map and kill someone, then photograph something, then run back and kill someone else before, yes, another photography mission. Familiarity that doesn't so much breed contempt as plain old boredom.
This lack of new things to do is accompanied by a handful of other flaws and general rough edges that really should have been ironed out. In addition to some typos, there are some glitches that result in irritatinq incongruities, such as characters talking to you as D-Tritus when you've transformed into a different character. To make matters worse, the foot combat is frankly lame. The whole set up doesn't feel as coherent as it should, either - naive but friendly simpleton D-Tritus is happy to go around blasting up innocents in cold blood with a smile on his face.
Scrapland is so very nearly a deliciously complete package. It's blessed with an excellently executed game world to wander around at your leisure, a twisted sense of humour (some of which actually manages to be funny), and great ship dynamics and combat. If only there was more to do, more variety and more choice, we may well have had a bona fide classic on our hands. As it stands, Scrapland is like a supermodel with a venereal disease - drop-dead gorgeous, and you can still have some fun with it, but you'll ultimately be deprived of the money shot.
Processor: PC compatible,
OS: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game Features:Single game mode