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March 25, 2005 - Image 9

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2005-03-25

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily - Friday, March 25, 2005 - 9

-1

Don't hurt me. It's not my fault this game sucks.
'Scrapland' fails to

deliver or
By Jared Newman
Daily Arts Writer
With his name prominently displayed
on the box, it seems that producer

American McGee
is trying to be a
video game big
shot with his sci-fi
adventure "Scrap-
land." While the
intriguing robot

Scrapland
Xbox
Enlight

universe that he's spun up certainly
earns him that distinction, it's a shame
that the game itself is so mundane.
"Scrapland" tells the story of D-
Tritus, a friendly robotic newcomer to
the city of Chimera. Humans are not
allowed into the city - our race's col-
lective wastefulness previously left it in
ruins, only to be rebuilt into a colorful
metropolis by resentful machines.
Almost everyone in Chimera is
corrupt, including the Bishops who,
for a price, can bring robots back to
life via "The Great Database." The
city is shaken to find the Archbishop
murdered and his matrix stolen from
the database, preventing his resurrec-
tion. Forced into journalism upon his
arrival, D-Tritus is assigned to cover
the story.
Here's the problem: Unraveling the
yarn requires gameplay, and the game-
play isn't any good. "Scrapland" falters
in its combination of space ship action
with on-foot endeavors in a nonlinear
style - players can fly anywhere they
choose and take up main or side mis-
sions at their leisure.
The folks at the scrap yard are kind

1 concept
enough to give D-Tritus his first ride,
and from there he can upgrade the ship
or build entirely new ones if he earns
enough cash. The freedom to custom-
ize and build a garage full of different
ships is exciting, but actually flying
them feels awful. The ships don't have
full 360-degree motion, so forget about
barrel rolls or loops. Players can make
the ships strafe, but it's nearly impos-
sible to do while shooting.
The on-foot missions are also a let-
down. In order to navigate the city's
massive buildings, D-Tritus "over-
writes" any character he interacts with,
stealing their appearance and abilities.
Doing so destroys that character and
causes the police to start chasing D-Tri-
tus. In addition to evading the watchful
eye of the cops, players must dodge evil
bankers who suck money from D-Tri-
tus simply by standing nearby. Avoid
the random Bishops that destroy things
for no reason and withstand the archaic
and monotonous gameplay long enough
not to throw the Xbox into the nearest
furnace.
The graphics and sound certainly
don't help the cause. Even though the
environments are colorful, "Scrapland"
can't decide what frame rate it wants
to run at, resulting in a jerky, almost
nausea-inspiring visual effect. Despite
quality voice acting, the audio has its
low points as well, such as noiseless
ship engines and musical numbers that
don't quite fit.
The saddest thing is that "Scrapland"
is one hell of a game on paper. The plot
is entertaining and the gameplay poten-
tial is there. Still, the execution leaves
so much to be desired that it will leave
most gamers heavy-hearted.

BRITISH
INVADE,
AGAIN
KAISER CHIEFS' DEBUT
UNINSPIRED AND
UNORIGINAL
By Evan McGarvey
Daily Music Editor
MUSIC REW kh
If their lifestyle correlates with their album
packaging and their obvi-
ous, deep-seeded desire to
be a flagship band in the Kaiser Chiefs
second British Invasion, Employment
then Kaiser Chiefs are Universal
zooming around London
in matching green Mini's
before heading to their favorite pub to watch
Man U vs. Leeds.
If their debut album, Employment, tried any
harder to will itself into The Kinks are the Vil-
lage Green Preservation Society, it might get
a hernia. If it tried to be any more "British,"
the album would have to fit houndstooth cap
on over its snarky verses and its controlled,
restrained percussion.
Kaiser Chiefs so Anglo-revivalist to repro-
duce the early '90s aesthetic of Blur and Super
Furry Animals or even post-Skylarking XTC;
they are a full-blown wormhole to the Zom-
bies, the Kinks and the those-who-shall-not-
be-named boys from Liverpool.
With a fluttering chain of guitar chords that
glides along and a ready-for-humming single,
"I Predict a Riot," Kaiser Chiefs seem like a
wonderful bridge to our parent's generation
and the times they sang us to sleep with "I Saw
Her Standing There." And for the most part
they should be able to pull the whole thing off.
Lead singer Ricky Wilson has the right mix
of self-effacing charisma and priggishness to
ham up choruses like, "Once you asked me
what I'm thinking / I lay back and think of
England / Do you know my real answer? / I
was born to be a dancer."
Guitarist Andrew White sounds at ease rat-
tling off dependable electrical wisps and bass-
ist Simon Rix has a decent enough sense of
musicianship to know when to emerge into the
musical foreground.
He's not the only one. Employment is an

Courtesy of Universal

"Hey guys, I brought the peanut butter"
album that thrives on glossy and airy tunes that
rush up against the foreground of the speakers.
"Oh My God" and "Modern Way" challenge
even the most diligent listener to pick out any
dense or dark undercurrents of sound lurking
behind the patient drums and restrained group
vocals.
This sense of holding back immediately
sets Kaiser Chiefs apart from roughly two-
thirds of young bands in rock today. Noth-
ing dangles from the sewn-up package of
Employment. It fits well with the band's Brit-
ish Invasion masquerade and is the biggest
selling point for Kaiser Chiefs. Their unique-
ness stems from their willingness to adhere
to their gimmick.
Even if listeners drink the proverbial Kool-
Aid, Employment ends up leaving a sour
taste in the mouth. Their act is unsustainable
and their desire to go back to mop-tops and
matching suits can't be nearly as intense as
they'd like it to be. The tunes are blandly tight

enough but when your closest musical compe-
tition is Please, Please Me, how can a young
band win?

U

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