The Same Classic Gameplay, And That’s All We Wanted.
When Twisted Metal for the PS3 was first announced, I thought it was going to be a complete reinvention of the car combat classic that we all know and love. As it turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong. While Twisted Metal for the PS3 does update the franchise for the modern HD generation, the gameplay itself feels nearly identical to Twisted Metal games of old. The guys over at Eat Sleep Play didn’t futz around with the core Twisted Metal formula, and while this is what makes the game feel good to play, it’s also what makes the game feel clunky and, at parts, incomplete. Still, vehicle-based combat led by a clown with a flaming head who drives an ice-cream truck still has enough charm to let the Twisted Metal franchise survive in the modern market.
Since no one ever really played Twisted Metal games for their award-winning stories, let’s dive right in to the gameplay. As was the case in the original PSOne games, each vehicle has its own main gun and special weapons. However, outside of that, your main method of attack will be the multitude of weapon power-ups that are lying around the field. One of the coolest aspects of the new Twisted Metal is that the weapon power-ups are pretty much the same as you remember them. You can pick up missiles, homing missiles, mines, freeze rays, shields, and even some new items like a one-shot-kill sniper rifle. Using them feels just like it did in the classic games of the series. While the control scheme is admittedly a little hard to grasp (pretty much every button and stick on the controller is used for something—and at the same time) the very concept of vehicle-based combat is the same. With a little bit of practice you’ll be doing missile drive-bys, turnaround homing strikes, and dirty freeze ray assaults that make your opponents fall to their doom.
Unlike previous Twisted Metal games, your vehicles aren’t determined by the characters you play. Instead every character (characters are more like factions at this point) has access to every vehicle in the game. Unfortunately, this means that there aren’t a whole lot of characters to choose from. You can choose from between three factions in the single-player and four in multiplayer, and that’s really it. The choice is basically entirely cosmetic as well. Do you want to play as Sweet Tooth, Doll Face, or Mr. Grimm. Doesn’t really matter, because you’ll get the same abilities either way.
The single-player portion of the game is actually quite enjoyable. The story is told through live-action cutscenes that seem like something out of a grindhouse flick. Blood flies everywhere while characters spit out predictably cheesy lines. It has a real B-movie feel to it. The truthfully terrible story barely makes any sense, only increasing that feel and somehow making the game better.
Most of the time you are tasked with simply killing everything around you, but the single-player does have a few curveballs to throw your way. Sometimes you’ll be forced into cage matches where you’ll do battle in a confined area or lose health, and other times you’ll be challenged to battle races, which ask you to come in first rather than slaughter your opponents. There are also some rather epic battles with bosses that are God of War-scale in size. I also personally enjoyed the juggernaut battles, which task you with taking down a truck that repeatedly spawns enemies for you, making the gamer almost feel like an RTS. Add this together with your normal basket of jumps and explosions and you have a recipe for a pretty solid single-player campaign.
There is one problem though: the A.I. is too perfect. It’s hard to program bots in games like this, and it shows. The A.I. in this game will murder you—and hard. Their aim is perfect, even from long distances, and your opponents always seem to know exactly where you are on the map as well.
To regain health, you need to either pick up a health power-up, drive into the back of a health semi which will regen your health as it drives, or park at a garage. Parking at a garage lets you change vehicles in the middle of battle while your other vehicles heal up. You aren’t confined to the ground either, as you’ll eventually take control of a helicopter to rain death down on your enemies. Unfortunately, there are some throwaway vehicles with health so low that the A.I. will pick them apart easily.
Multiplayer modes are all pretty standard, with the simplest mode being the classic deathmatch and the most unique mode being “Nuke,” where you have to capture an enemy team leader, strap them to a missile, and blow up a burning effigy of them. Strangely enough, the fun battle-race and cage match modes in the single-player campaign are nowhere to be found in multiplayer. You can play the singleplayer in co-op mode, but this doesn’t even compare to the huge online battles you can put together. It’s strange that the developers would keep these two aspects of the game separate.
The maps in the game are absolutely humongous, and they will satisfy anyone who has played a Twisted Metal game in the past. There are secret areas everywhere and, after a few matches, you’ll find yourself driving through buildings or subway tunnels to get the drop on your opponent. If your match is too small to warrant such a huge and expansive map, you can actually just limit the play area to tiny sections of the map in order to keep the action high. This is especially helpful for the four-player competitive split-screen mode that the game has, which plays just as well as it did back in the PlayStation One days.
The game looks good, but it’s plagued by more than a few bugs. Many times you’ll find the camera glitching out in ways that seriously impede your progress. On more than one occasion I found myself accidentally clipping through walls, or interacting with enemy cars in funny ways. Adding this to the already difficult A.I. can make for some frustrating experiences.
However, the sheer premise of the game keeps me coming back. At the end of the day, vehicular combat is fun. Unlike all the kart racing games we have played over the years, Twisted Metal is just about blowing your opponents up, and that’s simply an enjoyable pastime. The power-up management and vehicle selection give the game a sort of arcade feel that you just don’t get in modern shooter games. Despite all its flaws, this game feels, at its core, like a true Twisted Metal title, and, to this day, Twisted Metal is pretty much the only franchise to get excessively violent vehicle combat right.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.6 Graphics
If it weren’t for the camera angles, this would have a higher score. It’s pretty, but it’s glitchy. 2.9 Control
The controls are far too complicated for the game’s own good. It’s still fun, but there’s no excuse for controls like “shake the controller to boost.” 3.2 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Rock, metal, explosions. Yeah, it works. 4.5 Play Value
The best thing about Twisted Metal is that it continues to be fun despite all its flaws. 3.8 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend|
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid||2.5 – 2.9 = Average||3.5 – 3.9 = Good||4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy|
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor||3.0 – 3.4 = Fair||4.0 – 4.4 = Great||5.0 = The Best|