Let’s Get Twisted!
The Twisted Metal franchise has brought gamers everywhere years of outstanding car combat fun. Twisted Metal both created and defined the genre. The series has been wildly successful over the years, selling over 8 million copies worldwide. This success can be attributed to the action packed gameplay and an irreverent attitude that appeals to gamers’ dark-sides. Twisted Metal released in 1995 for the PlayStation and became an instant fan favorite. The game represented the very best that the era had to offer and will go down in history as one of the first classic games to grace a Sony console. Twisted Metal: Head-On: Extra Twisted Edition follows this tradition and will be remembered as one of the last great titles for the PlayStation 2.
Series’ co-creators David Jaffe and Scott Campbell have recently formed Eat Sleep Play Studios and have released the Extra Twisted Edition. Originally a PSP title, gamers will be treated to the exciting gameplay of the ported Twisted Metal: Head-On UMD that has become increasingly rare. Head-On is a very complete, very fun game in its own right with tons of levels, venues, and great multiplayer action. Thankfully, instead of simply porting the title and leaving well enough alone, the developers have tweaked gameplay a bit by adding weapon and car upgrades. They have also enhanced the graphics, added more unlockable vehicles, and even added an exclusive level for the PS2.
As if an improved core product weren’t enough, a ton of extra content has been shoehorned onto the disk. The lost levels of the never-released Twisted Metal: Black sequel known as Harbor City can be played as a full bonus game. This additional content has been released to the public in memory of the six key members of the Twisted Metal: Harbor City development team that died in a plane crash after a celebratory skiing vacation in Colorado in 2005. Harbor City was going to bring some new concepts to the series. The title was to incorporate a series of interconnected highways that communicated every zone and arena to one another. The open gameplay really would have shaken things up. Sadly, the game was never published due to the tragic accident. However, the level designs were never scrapped, and they are now available to play solely on this special release without the innovative highway system.
The compilation also includes an in-depth look at the history of the Twisted Metal series called Twisted Metal: The Dark Past. This documentary pools together interviews with the creators and directors for some interesting insight. Additionally, there are a collection of movies from the original title you can watch that didn’t make the final cut, and you’ll get to test drive a portion of the third person on-foot adventure that was to follow the insane exploits of the infamous Sweet Tooth. This portion of the game is called the Sweet Tour, and it will have you searching for additional content clips that give you a behind the scenes look at the creation of the series. These clips are made up of a bunch of art stills and concept drawings that give you an idea of where the series could have gone. If you unlock everything, you’ll be rewarded with a truly neat sneak peak. Finally, the game pack is to be bundled with an art book for your enjoyment. All of this comes at the bargain price of just $20.
The gameplay in Head-On and the Lost levels is classic Twisted Metal fun. The levels are well mapped out, and there are more vehicles, more venues, and more modes to play and unlock than ever before. Despite the additions, the core of the game hasn’t changed much. If you’re expecting a lot of innovation, then you’re twisting up the wrong Metal. Wait for a possible PS3 release to unleash the innovation. Fortunately, the Head-On title was a great bit of fun for the PSP and the game is even better on the PS2. The controls are smoother and the graphics are just a touch better, though the frame rate seems to stutter at times.
One other downfall is the lack of an online component that was in fact part of the PSP version. Online battles via the handheld are epic, and this new version misses that element. All in all I would say that the Extra Twisted Edition still gets the nod, however, because the controls are so vastly improved over the PSP version. Moreover, the Lost levels of Harbor City are every bit as good as those of Head-On and the evolved character models are interesting and even edgier. The sheer amount of unlockables and previously unexplored content in both titles is phenomenal. You’re really getting two games for the price of a used one with Twisted Metal: Head-On: Extra Twisted Edition.
Moreover, the game modes of Story, Challenge, and Endurance are available to play on both games. For those of you unfamiliar with the franchise, Story mode takes you through arena battles that culminate in awesome boss battles. They are also full of side mission content like a no-weapon destruction derby against taxi cabs. Challenge mode is a battle royal that allows you to set the combat parameters such as the location and the opponents, and then has you battle it out in a free-for-all. The Endurance mode pits you against a never-ending stream of enemies until you finally succumb to the barrage. There is also multiplayer gameplay, but sadly only two can participate at a time. The two player support is a relic that will be shed should the series move forward, but I wish the multi-tap could be utilized with this awesome installment of the series. In the multiplayer mode, you can sign up for a one-on-one Death Match or you can opt for Split Screen Co-Op to take on opponents together.
Twisted Metal: Head-On: Extra Twisted Edition brings all the best bits of the Twisted Metal series and loads it all into a memorable bargain title. This is a must buy chapter in the series for Metal-heads and those few unfortunates that have yet to experience the power and fun of the series. For everyone else, you could probably hold-off because gameplay hasn’t substantially changed. However, the game will only set you back $20 and it is more than worth the price of admission. The Extra Twisted Edition is chocked full of new content and extras, but it still feels like a nostalgic stroll down a very fun memory lane.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.5 Graphics
Clean for a PS2 title, but there will be the occasional lagging shutter. 4.5 Control
For those of you that suffered through hand cramps on the PSP version: you’re all suckers! 3.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Nothing outstanding, but the weapons and explosions sound fine. 4.3 Play Value
This game is tons of fun, but the lack of online and multi-tap support is disappointing. 4.0 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.