Twisted Metal Review

After a 10+ year hiatus from the console gaming scene, the king of vehicular combat has returned to claim its vacant throne — flaming head, ice cream trucks, clown masks and all. Twisted Metal has been reborn on the Playstation 3 with dramatically improved visuals, online play and the same brand of crazy, over the top vehicular mayhem that made the series one of the premiere franchises of the PSOne era.

And if we’re fortunate enough, this new Twisted Metal will be the first of several more in the series because David Jaffe and the team at Eat, Sleep, Play have proved that the car combat genre never died, it just went away for a little while.

Twisted Metal: PS3 (Reviewed)
Developer: Eat, Sleep, Play
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Released: Feb. 14, 2012
MSRP: $59.99

Twisted Metal has primarily always been about the multiplayer, but its single player modes are typically noteworthy due to the effort put into the stories of its characters. Like previous entries of the series, all of the vehicular based death and destruction is framed as a tournament set up by a mysterious man named Calypso who promises to grant the winner any one wish of their choosing.

Of course the appeal of these stories is that Calypso almost always acts like a twisted genie who gives the winners what they want, but in an unexpected, and almost certainly disastrous, kind of way.

That much stays the same, but unfortunately the campaign is limited only to three characters: Sweet Tooth, Mr. Grim, and Dollface. Each character has their own story arc that covers their backstory, their reason for entering Calypso’s game, and what happens when they finally get their wish. All of the stories are pretty compelling and told through stylish and campy live action cutscenes that are filmed with CG backgrounds. The stories are also pretty dark, keeping in line with the direction that Twisted Metal Black took the series back in 2001.

Each of the three chapters consists of six levels with a surprising amount of variety in their goals and objectives. Some levels simply require you to destroy the enemy cars and be the last one standing; others are “cage matches,” which requires all cars to battle it out in a constantly moving cage or risk taking damage for every second they aren’t inside the cage; and some demand that you quickly destroy a heavily armored and heavily armed truck, else it will spawn a fresh enemy vehicle into the arena every minute.

Then there are the race challenges, which not only have you worrying about getting blown up by your fellow racers, but also passing through small checkpoints, falling off ledges, and placing first. This is likely to be an point of contention with the game, as the driving controls are obviously meant for blowing the hell out of the competition, not racing past them. With a little mental adjustment though, I found the races to be quite enjoyable.

Each chapter is then punctuated by multi-tiered, and lengthy, boss fights that truly put the player’s skills to the test. Needless to say, the difficulty level quickly ramps up once you complete the first chapter and becomes extremely punishing as the game nears its conclusion.

Even if you wind up retrying stages over and over again though, the levels are so much fun and so intense that the game rarely becomes frustrating. Twisted Metal also generously gives players a collection of three cars that they can switch between — provided he or she can make it to the garage before the vehicle blows up.

Vehicle selection is an extremely important aspect of Twisted Metal’s strategy as well. Each vehicle is rated on three stats: speed, armor, and special weapon. Speed and armor are pretty self-explanatory, but each vehicle also has a unique special weapon that recharges each time it is used. Some special weapons, like the Reaper’s flaming chainsaw, can deal extraordinary amounts of damage, but this is usually balanced by the vehicle being either extremely slow or extremely fragile. Likewise, more balanced vehicles tend to have less powerful special weapons.

Aside from each character’s special weapon, there’s also an arsenal of standard weapons littered across the battlefield. These range from the simple homing and fire missiles, to the more skill-shot oriented weapons like the dynamite strapped remote controlled car, napalm strikes and smart bombs. Each weapon has its own particular use and knowing how and when and how to use each of them is one of the many keys to success in the game.

As mentioned before, multiplayer has always been where the Twisted Metal series truly shined and it’s no different here. The game supports four player split screen for some old school couch multiplayer in addition to online skirmishes with a bunch of a different game types.

Most notable of these game types is Nuke, which is like a really weird version capture the flag, but with a very “Twisted Metaly” twist. The object of the mode is to bring down the opposing faction’s floating statue by firing nuclear missiles at it. In order to fire a missile, you must first kill the opposing faction’s leader, drag his or her body back over to a missile launcher, remain near the missile launcher long enough to arm it, then manually guide the missile into the opposing statue before it gets shot down.

Unfortunately at the time of this review, online has some serious bugs that need to get worked out. Joining a game is like a crapshoot, with the majority of attempts resulting in error messages. Once in a game though, things ran relatively smoothly and the game was a ton of fun. The only shame is that some of the more unique match types from the single player game don’t make the transition over to online.

Twisted Metal sticks to what works and puts the gameplay first over all else. The game is a blast to play with friends and the single player provides a short lived, but nonetheless enjoyable campaign with an interesting story and a satisfying variety of challenges.

Pros:
- Fast and frantic car combat with well balanced weapons and vehicles
- Great live-action cutscenes that bring the game’s story mode to life
- Excellently designed maps that are teeming with secret areas to explore.
- Great variety of vehicles that each come with a unique special weapon
- Split screen multiplayer done right

Cons:
- Only three characters in story mode limits replayability of single player
- Online currently bugged (As of 2/17/2012)
- Short single player story mode
- Game can be pretty frustrating towards the end of the last chapter

Final Score: 85

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1 Comment on Twisted Metal Review

Jordan

On January 29, 2014 at 10:56 pm

i have been a fan of the Twisted Metal franchise ever since I could pick up a controller and play. Given the difficulty is not up to punishing levels such as Twisted Metal 2 or 3 (Play station 1) the game as stated above is rather difficult and dishes out the pain. The cons for me though are that 1.) Some vehicles (such as Talon and Sweet-tooths robot) are a twist to the classic twisted metal franchise that veterans loved. 2.) The characters are not detailed as before. Older games would have back stories or final wishes.