Twisted Metal review (PS3)
Does Sony’s vehicular combatant leave us with a Sweet-tooth for slaughter?
One of Sony’s forgotten children as of recent years seems to have been the Twisted Metal series. The once in-your-face gritty car-combat franchise has been disturbingly quiet since the release of Twisted Metal: Black, ignoring a PSP-to-PS2 port known as Twisted Metal: Head-On.
David Jaffe’s rage-infused smash ‘em up is finally out of hiding, and brings all the clichés of the genre, and it’s exactly what we’ve been needing.
Vehicular combat games seem to be pretty sparse as of late, with the Carmageddon franchise in hibernation and the next closest thing, Blood Drive, not being anything to get excited about; so having a new Twisted Metal in the mix is a welcomed return.
This time around, the premise hasn’t changed much. The unnecessarily ominous Calypso is hosting yet another Twisted Metal tournament, which he wants the three main characters, Sweet Tooth, Mr. Grimm and Dollface to compete in, as he lured each in with an irresistible prize.
The story mode allows players to experience each character’s brief and incoherent story – the game switches between the three characters as you progress through the levels. The story is told through CGI enhanced live-action cut scenes reminiscent of B-grade horror movies. While the idea is different and ambitious, they do juxtapose and contrast dramatically to the in-game visuals, making the silly acting and over-the-top imagery stand out way more than it should.
What really matters in a game like Twisted Metal is the gameplay, and it delivers on that front, for the most part. The game is a throwback to previous generation’s balls-to-the-wall gameplay style, which throws out all the unnecessary bells and whistles the genre has often caught itself up in, and just delivers what it promises.
One knows what to expect: you have a variety of vehicles to choose from, mount different weapons and specials on them, and throw yourself out into the battleground. The different weapon mounts add a bit of variety to the way you want to play and which car you want to use. The stronger and bigger vehicles are obviously slower, requiring weapons with a longer range; while the faster cars can justify close-range shotguns for example, but may also need mines as protection due to low armour capabilities.
These elements come together well and give the traditional power-to-speed trade-off that make these type of games universally appealing for friends to get around together and play. The levels themselves also play a pivotal role in gameplay, as the environments can range from open and vast, to more close-quarters where ramps and platforms are constantly changing throughout the matches.
Given how the weapons and levels work, Eat Sleep Play definitely kept the control scheme in mind, and opted for a more arcade feel to the handling, allowing players to make drastic turns on-the-fly. One issue does lie in the vehicle physics, which start at average and go right down to the plain bizarre.
All these facets of the game make for a fun experience, but if there’s no one to enjoy the mayhem with you, it feels a little rigid. Thankfully, Twisted Metal features full four-player splitscreen co-op, as well as an online component.
There is an abundance of modes and match variants to customize, but one of the stand-out features is that two players can play through the entire campaign together in split-screen mode, adding a team element to the matches as you work together to survive each round and boss battle.
Online mirrors that of the local multiplayer options, but bases the matches around seven game types: Deathmatch; Last Man Standing (like deathmatch, but with limited lives); Hunted (one player is the target, and his/her killer then becomes the next target); team variations of those three; and Nuke, which sees players try and capture another team’s leader (not controlled by anyone) and strap them to a missile which will then be fired (and controlled the whole time) until it detonates on the opposing team’s monument, which is a statue of one of the characters.
A very-thin porcelain veneer
Twisted Metal has never been one for gorgeous looks, but excelled in terms of style and substance – not too much has changed in 2012. It’s not a bad looking game by any means, as the frame-rate is silky smooth, the levels are large and destructible, the model damage is extensive and the production values are high; it just doesn’t reach that current-gen shine that should be expected from game’s nowadays. That said, it sticks to the franchise’s style and grit, and shows it off with utter awesomeness.
Ugly, brash and a perfect fit
Twisted Metal isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel, and it’s for the best. What you do get is a game that knows exactly what it’s good at and does it with a big cheeky grin on its face. Despite being a little rough around the edges, the solidly fun gameplay, frantic pace, split-screen and strange modes will give players more than they bargained for.