If you were to list the game concepts that should be automatically awesome, going by their base ingredients, then cars with guns would have to come somewhere near the top. People like driving. People like shooting. Squish them together and, at the very least, you should have a game that ticks the box marked "Wheeee! Fun!"
With that immutable universal law in mind, it's unclear how Xbox Live Arcade game Scrap Metal has ended up as such a drab and frustrating little misfire. It's produced by Slick Entertainment, which showed an innate understanding of pitch-perfect sensory feedback with its XBLA version of N+, yet almost every element feels compromised and clumsy. It's a game that you want to enjoy, but dozens of constant irritations scratch away at you and prevent it from realising its potential.
Scrap Metal is a combat-oriented top-down racer; separate out its DNA and you'd find donated genes from R.C. Pro Am, Super Sprint and Micro Machines, but the end result doesn't even come close to their moreish genius. Balance and control, two elements key to this sort of racer, are sorely lacking and all the clichéd cartoon characters and chugga-chugga rock music can't compensate for the misshapen organs in the belly of this beast.