"Twisted Metal who?"
Knock Knock. "Whoís there?" Twisted Metal. "Twisted Metal who?" Yeah, exactly. Twisted Metal fans rejoice. A game thatís bigger and much better has arrived. I know Iím not being fair, TM2 was released over a year ago, but didnít you feel that the second installment could have been a lot more? I thought so. Vigilante 8 improves on the Twisted Metal gameplay in every aspect: Graphics, framerate, cool effects, music FMV endings (short but cool), weapons, special moves, and V8 even has a better back story!
The story has the Vigilante 8, protecting the American citizens from the evil "Coyoteís", whom are wreaking havoc throughout the States. Thwarting Coyoteís plans to infiltrate and destroy a secret military base (Area 51 anyone?) both parties are exposed to top secret military and other worldly weaponry, which explains the kick ass fire power on these vehicles.
For the uninitiated, Vigilante 8 is a driving game that is more about shooting and blowing things up than racing. In fact, there isnít any racing. Think of it like Doom on wheels. You can play from an outside and behind the car perspective or an inside the car perspective, the former being the most useful. Each car has itís own weapons which can be upgraded via floating powerups found around each stage. Your car has 360 degrees of movement and there are plenty of things to blow up, lots of things to jump, hidden secrets to discover and a lot of fun to be had.
At the select screen you can choose from 4 Vigilanteís or 4 Coyote team members (2 new members on each team are unavailable at the beginning of the game). Of course, each member has their own special vehicle that corresponds to their lifestyle: Beeswax the hillbilly drives a beat up Ď70ís pickup truck, while Chassey Blue prefers the confines of her slick Ď67 Rattler, a Corvette look alike. If itís a one player game you can play the Quest mode which has you fulfilling objectives (guarding gas stations etc.) whilst taking on a handful of enemies. Complete all four levels and you may unlock some specials characters and vehicles. Arcade mode allows you to select the number of enemies (up to 12) and the area where you will battle for supremacy. Two player mode offers a versus mode and a cooperative mode, which are self explanatory.
No matter which mode you choose, youíll be having a blast in no time. Controls are defaulted to behave similar to TM, so those veterans will be playing right away. For those new to the genre, expect a slight learning curve. But you had better learn fast, because these guys are an unforgiving lot.
The vehicles handle extremely well, and I reviewed this game with the standard control pad. An analog pad such as the Dual Shock would be a real treat I imagine. As well, this game also supports the steering wheel and pedals to make your experience a visual dream. Couple this with the first person view (looking through the windshield mode) and look out! Although I do find that mode the hardest to play in, itís not fore every situation, but it would be fun nonetheless.
Graphically this game is sweet. The framerate is high and smooth. The graphics have none of that grainy look that alot of PlayStation games have, and the textures are subtle and pleasant to the eye. This is what Twisted Metal 2 should have looked like. I know it sounds like Iím ragging on TM2, but letís face it, there are going to be comparisons of these two games. In all fairness, if it wasnít for the geniuses at Singletrac who were responsible for the original Twisted Metal, we wouldnít have Vigilante 8. So, by saying that, we can see that V8 isnít a bundle of innovation. Itís building a better mousetrap. At least it is attempting to advance this new genre of vehicular 360 degree battles.
The music rocks too. There is just something right about playing a driving game and having music playing. Too bad I couldnít tune into the news, but oh well. And the tunes are played by real musicians which I prefer over the electronic stuff any day.
In conclusion, Your Honor, this game isnít going to get points for originality. Although it borrows heavily from itís predecessor Twisted Metal, it at least improves upon that formula in every way. It comes down to you: If you are a TM fan, than you shouldnít pass this up. Itís a keeper. Donít make the mistake of passing this up for TM2 if you donít own either game or you will undoubtedly be heard to remark, "Oh No! I could have had a V8!" (Crash, Boom!)