Review: Scraper: First Strike
An exciting first entry into a new episodic series.
When a developer states that its new project will be a series spread out over five parts, it can be difficult to make a true and accurate assessment of a title which may change and evolve over time. So rather than worry about what’s to come, let’s just focus on what’s available, and Labrodex Inc.’s Scraper: First Strike has all the hallmarks of a great little shooter.
Straight from the word go it’s easy to tell the studio has focused on making this cyberpunk first-person shooter (FPS) an inclusive and comfortable experience for all. Unusually for an FPS the gameplay is entirely seated, instantly making it suitable for long sessions. Labrodex Inc. has achieved this by putting you inside a heavily armed hover pod – imagine the top half of a mech, minus the legs – with guns appearing either side, with several buttons and levers on the inside for additional features like an EMP or shield recharge.
Not only does the pod make for an increased sense of comfort during frantic firefights there’s also a wealth of options once you dig into the menu to fine tune those comfort settings further. Alter the snap turn, adjust the vignette, and even turn on teleportation if you need to – smooth locomotion is on by default. The studio certainly seems to have really kept an eye on the whole virtual reality (VR) industry, what other developers have tried (and what players want) and bundled it all together. So it would seem even the most sensitive of VR players should be able to enjoy this FPS.
The story is your classic sci-fi affair where you find yourself in megacity New Austin, Texas, part of a band of human forces being dropped onto a towering skyscraper with the aim of stopping rogue robots from destroying humanity. This narrative will then continue and develop over the series, with each title unlocking more lore for you to read up on.
Which means Scraper: First Strike isn’t just aiming to be an action-packed FPS but a sci-fi role-playing game (RPG) as well. Because as you explore, blowing up crates to find ammo and blasting robots in the face you’ll pick up and scavenge parts and loot to build and upgrade your hovering rig. From unlocking new weapons to improving stats like energy and health, there’s a decent selection of options to choose from once enough parts have been collected and taken to an engineering station.
As for the main gunplay itself this proves that Labrodex Inc. knows what it’s doing with the controls feeling lithe and sharp. The actual gun arms are surprisingly flexible and manoeuvrable, with a decent range of motion to pepper groups or aim for the head. If you’ve played Battlezone with the medium tank then that’s a reasonable representation of how the pod skips about.
There’s a reasonable selection of enemies from your standard soldiers to heavies with shields and scampering little critters that blow themselves up. They all do have one thing in common – and it’s an issue a lot of videogames in this genre suffer from – stupidity. They’ll generally stand in position until you shoot at them or they do actually spot you, and then charge. At which point it’s a case of barraging them until dead.
Scraper: First Strike has plenty of little bits and pieces that are appealing and it’s been perfectly tuned for immersive VR gameplay. Because it is episodic some may find it’s not particularly lengthy, but turn the difficulty up and you’re in for a challenge. As a debut title, Labrodex Inc. should be proud of what’s been achieved. And with four more planned Scraper: First Strike is an impressive showcase.