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|American McGee Presents: Scrapland|
Eugeni Martine |
Scrapland's story is set in the robot-populated world of the same name, also known by the inhabitants as Chimera, which seems like a giant asteroid vastly industrialized as a metropolis and surrounded by a world-scaled energy field and an orbital ring, both used to control entrance and exit of the planet. The world of Scrapland is filled with violence, clandestine racing, gambling and common illegal actions punishable with death, but both victims and perpetrators can both be resurrected thanks to the Great Database, a huge machine created and controlled by the Bishops of Chimera that is capable of resurrecting robots, but the "extra lives" for robots are quite expensive, as Bishops determine the prices and even incite massacres or take part in combats and murders to boost the extra live sales. Robots that can't pay the extra lives when they're killed are resurrected in a cell, guarded by the corrupt Chimera Police Department. The inhabitants suffer a great burden on their economies as well, mostly the passive ones, as the police officers extort other robots for money in broad daylight and/or have their money stolen by Banker robots who can empty a person's economy without him even noticing. Chimera's inhabitants are also intolerant towards humans or any other organic beings, called "viscous beings" by the inhabitants, considering them extremely dangerous and arresting any non-robot who ever attempts to enter Chimera.
Players take control of the story's protagonist D-Tritus, a robot who attempts to act friendly with the inhabitants, but soon adapts to the violent lifestyle of Chimera. As the player progresses through the story, the player will get the ability to use D-Tritus' natural skills or take the shapes of other robots or even possess them (called "overwriting" in the game) and use their skills, which vary depending on the robot's shape. Many on-foot missions, inside of the game's primary buildings, will require the player to make use of those skills to progress into the game, many times with the consequence of attracting police attention. In the outside world, the player is capable of using varied types of faster and stronger gunships, acquired through the game, for missions as well as racing and combat not related to the story, with a variety of weapons like missiles, explosive cannons, Tesla coils and anti-matter lasers that often behave like rail guns.
The story begins with D-Tritus Debris, an unknown robot from outer space, arriving to Chimera through the usual check-in process and being assigned as a reporter, the "job no robot wants in the planet". Meeting with his new colleague, the over-active and optimistic Berto, D-Tritus gradually meets the city's inhabitants, like the Crazy Gambler, the local violent sports sponsor, Rusty, a mechanic specialized in building gunships and selling stolen ones (to avoid trouble with the law enforcement), his boss in the Press Room (called "The Boss") and Betty, a seductive robot who's the Boss' fiancée and news anchor for Chimera's television network. He also meets Sebastian, a very old photo camera who transfers D-Tritus his photo shooting program and a special matrix, that allows D-Tritus to either overwrite other robots or take their shapes in a Great Database terminal.
All apparently goes fine with D-Tritus' routine, with him learning combat and racing with the city's inhabitants and his co-colleague Humphrey, until after his first failed interview with the Archbishop of Chimera, who's murdered in his hot tub bath moments after D-Triuts leaves the scene. This normally wouldn't scare the population of Chimera, as, thanks to the resurrection capabilities of the Great Database, murder and combat is quite normal, were not for the fact the Archbishop's matrix was stolen from the Great Database. Put in charge of the case, D-Tritus starts the investigation that is the center of the story, working in all methods to gain clues concerning the matter, like assuming the forms of other robots, including the City Mayor, making part of the violent gangs of Chimera, infiltrating the corrupt Chimera Police Department and the Temple, where resides the Great Database and the Bishops controlling the resurrections, enforcing for the Mayor in his electoral campaign and even participating in Crazy Bets, challenges set by the Crazy Gambler who often gets the player in trouble with the local law enforcement.
With the clues initially appointing to a viscous creature (A Human), D-Tritus dives himself in a conspiracy as he's contacted and guided by Deep Throat, a strange robot who seems to have more information than D-Tritus or others. Soon, as the investigation progresses, he discovers the viscous creature is a fake, it's organic fluids and other features fabricated by a Bishop named Gus as a disguise being used by a robot. Progressively through the story, along with D-Tritus' investigation, the viscous creature scores more victims, like the Chief of Police and the Mayor, murdering them and stealing their matrices to prevent their resurrection. Things turn for the worse when D-Tritus is targeted by the conspirators, who steal his matrix several times and attempt to kill him, either using proxies and Mercenaries or manipulating people like Berto and others in killing him with some unknown form of mind-control.
The investigations take a definitive turn with the arrival of a human to Chimera, a software seller named Bill, who's arrested upon touchdown. Protecting Bill while fighting the conspiracy itself, D-Tritus firstly believes the Crazy Gambler (revealed as the Chief of Bankers in disguise) is the responsible for the murders when he tries to kill him personally, but, after stopping him, he's contated by Deep Throat to meet him in person. D-Tritus does it, discovering Deep Throat is actually Betty, who's been "helping him in the backstage" all along. With a plan to attract the viscous creature and stop it, D-Tritus, Betty and Berto use a false carcass of the Crazy Gambler to lure him to a cell in the Police Station, but the creature gets away, but not before revealing himself as Humphrey.
Killing Humphrey in a lengthy pursuit, D-Tritus returns to the Press Room to discover his Boss is the de facto mastermind of the conspiracy, who used Humphrey through a mind control program to murder Chimera's influent leaders. He reveals his plan to D-Tritus of using a replica of the Great Database, built through materials D-Tritus himself has collected throughout the story, to mind-control all of Chimera's population and then sets all of Chimera's robots, both on foot and on gunships, against him. Discovering Bill's software is the key to destroying the Boss' mind control machine, the Crazy Gambler, the only robot along with some Mercenaries who weren't affected by the program, secrets Bill to the Press Room as D-Tritus and the Mercenaries fight off Chimera's population and destroy the relay buoys transmitting the mind control program. Bill and D-Tritus succeed as Bill installs his software directly into the Boss' database, freeing Chimera's population and ending the conspiracy. In a last-ditch attempt, the Boss reveals to D-Tritus and the Crazy Gambler that Chimera is the destroyed old world of Earth, that the humans abandoned it after poisoning the planet and waging countless wars, and that they left their nuclear arsenal behind. Determined to trigger all nuclear warheads at once and vaporizing Chimera after reaching a safer distance, the Boss flees to Chimera's orbit, but he's trapped when the Crazy Gambler activates a force field blocking the only accessible exit to outer space, as that area was once used for the Gambler's Super Crazy Bets. D-Tritus teleports himself there and engages the Boss in a violent gunship battle, ultimately killing him. With order restored and Chimera saved, Bill is considered innocent and is freed as D-Tritus and Betty, rescued from the Boss' captivity, rides off to outer space with D-Tritus in the same space bike he used to enter Chimera in the beginning.
According to American McGee, the game was designed and produced by Enrique Alvarez, the studio head at Mercury Steam. McGee refers to himself as a "marketing tool". Alvarez pitched the idea for Scrapland to McGee while McGee was working as an executive producer at Enlight.
Scrapland received "average" reviews on both platforms according to video game review aggregator Metacritic. Game Informer criticized the Xbox version's on-foot sections, "which would appear to be in the game for the sole purpose of annoying people. Scrap indeed." IGN gave the same console version a more positive review, saying "I would have liked to have seen more variety and lateral flexibility in the single-player... Overall, the game's refreshing sense of personality wins out over everything else."
The editors of Computer Gaming World nominated Scrapland for their 2004 "Action Game of the Year" award, which ultimately went to The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay.
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