Twisted Metal, one of the most iconic franchises of the PS1 era has returned with great fanfare. But after giddiness subsided, everyone had the same question: can a car combat game succeed in today’s world at a full $60 retail price? David Jaffe, creator and Internet instigator, clearly thinks so, as the addition of online multiplayer just might allow Twisted Metal to enter the current generation with guns blazing.
Single-player mode in Twisted Metal always resembled that of a fighting game’s. You choose your car and face off in deathmatches against the AI. After a few levels, there’s a mid-boss and then more deathmatches and then a final boss. You watch the ending for that character and then start all over with a different driver. What was fun about this was the need to pick different cars, learn their strengths, weaknesses and special moves and then wreak havoc on the game. Mr. Grimm, riding a motorcycle, naturally didn’t have strong armor, but his special weapon packed a punch like no other. Darkside had strong armor, but a special move that required you to get in close and ram your enemies. Everyone had trade-offs and the system was balanced. This also gave the game’s story mode plenty of replay value, as learning how to beat the various levels with the different cars made you play the game differently.
The same system of balance applies in the new Twisted Metal, but gone is the option to choose which character you want to play as in the story mode. You always start off as Sweet Tooth, then switch to Mr. Grimm and end with Dollface. You can still choose different cars to use, as you are not stuck with Sweet Tooth’s ice cream truck or Mr. Grimm’s cycle, but I felt this was a bit of a disappointment. Seeing each driver’s ending and the inevitable twist that always came was one of the high points for me. The story in this game is actually pretty riveting and EXTREMELY dark and disturbing. I’m talking people killing their families and things that make you not want to play as the character who commits these acts. The mix of live-action actors and CGI settings is unique and eye-catching and I did live the variety of the levels. You don’t play just deathmatches now, but different modes including Last Man Standing and a few objective-based modes. The story mode can be beaten in under 5 hours and is enjoyable, but I would have preferred the old system for this aspect of the game.
The meat of the game is multiplayer. Indeed, it is the main reason Jaffe decided he wanted to do another Twisted Metal, as the story mode was something they decided to do after game’s development had already started. Thankfully, Twisted Metal’s online component is a blast to play. There’s something exhilirating about turning a corner and unloading missiles, napalm and a gurney packed with explosives into a pile of your enemies. The thing that really sets this mode apart from the singleplayer is that since everyone on the map is a human, you aren’t just the sole target, which is how it sometimes feels in the story mode, where the AI seems to conspire to gang up on you. Having a genuinine free-for-all in Twisted Metal gives the game a new lease on life.
Something I really like is that it takes a lot of damage to blow someone up, which allows for more tense relationships to form. Instead of being killed by a single spray of bullets like in Call of Duty, a typical scenario in Twisted Metal goes something like this: you are under fire from someone, but you manage to escape and find a health power up, along with some weapons. Then you do a quick U-turn, find that jerk and blow him to kingdom come. The high level of damage allows in-game rivalries to form organically, which is something I’ve found myself really enjoying. “Oh, crap, it’s THAT GUY AGAIN!” Other than the occasional trouble finding a match online (due to server issues), the multiplayer of Twisted Metal is stellar.
Twisted Metal is a well-made game with just a few issues that irk me. The linear nature of the storyline kills any desire to replay it once you have beaten it one time. Despite the interesting story and cut-scenes, there is no incentive to play it again, unless you are trying to get medals by beating the levels in a faster time. Some of the boss fights are downright frustrating, so much so that I was wondering how the hell David Jaffe thought anyone not into S&M would find them enjoyable. I give them credit for trying something different, but there were a few times that I almost rage quit. It was good tutorial before playing online with a unique and twisted story as a bonus, but it’s not the main draw of the game.
Twisted Metal is a different age, from a genre that was once prolific but now seems like a relic of a bygone era.The default controls are the same as they were back in the late 90s and they took a bit of getting used to. But like slipping back into a pair of old jeans, they suddenly give way and feel as comfortable stylish as you remember. I only liked the PS1 Twisted Metals. It was until the PS2’s Twisted Metal: Black that I became a huge fan of the series and since then I have pined for another installment, especially with the advent of online gaming. This one doesn’t disappoint in that aspect. The server issues have been fixed and I found it easy to get drawn into an hour long session when I only intended to play one quick match. There is not much original here, but it is fun as hell and worth playing.
One quick note about the grade: the story is fun, but has enough issues that I could only recommend it with a few caveats. The multiplayer is flat-out fun and shouldn’t be missed. However, since we review the WHOLE game here at GamerSushi (and we were kind of annoyed by the reviews of Battlefield 3 ignoring the single player when it came time to give it a score), the game can’t be recommended without slight hesitation. Hence: C.
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