February 19, 2012
The story mode for Twisted Metal is laid out in the same structure, but this time around, it's focused on three characters: Sweet Tooth, Mr. Grimm, and Dollface. Each twisted character has their own agenda, and reasons for entering Calypso's contest, and as always, their demands are granted with certain twists. As a whole, the campaign is like the classic Twisted Metal, however Eat Sleep Play have also included levels where you actually race for a change. It's an interesting change of pace, and it still keeps the fundamental death match rules intact. But make no mistake, Twisted Metal is all about the battle royale death-matches and you'll find the majority of the missions consist of that.
Fans of the series may feel betrayed that some of their favourite characters were dropped in favour of these, however Eat Sleep Play realized the true characters are of course the vehicles you play with, and not the avatars that drive them. As expected, the game boasts a diverse cast of vehicles, all of which are balanced to the point where no car is at the top of the food chain. All have their strengths and weaknesses that will be exploited by opponents, and it's up to the skills of the player to best them all. Newest to the roster is a helicopter called Talon, which is great for the eagle eye view of the terrain, but much weaker in armour. Each car has two unique special abilities on top of the plethora of weapons at your disposal. Talon has a chain-gun as the primary special, and a magnet to pick up other vehicles and drop them as a secondary. Some have disturbingly hilarious specials, like Meat Wagon, whose speciality is chucking gurney-bound patients at enemies.
Gameplay is the tried and true Twisted Metal formula, with several tweaks to keep things fresh in today's market, all the while retaining that crucial essence that let's you know you are playing Twisted Metal. Controls may seem tricky at first, but like any game, a few hours spent getting past the game's initial learning curve will have you navigating the maps with ease. Not only that, but Eat Sleep Play has catered to a wide audience of players, offering different control schemes depending on your preference so if you have problems with the classic control scheme you have the freedom to change them to your liking.
There are passive abilities that return to the scene, and are all mapped to the D-Pad. You can add a shield, fire a freeze blast that forces an enemy to restart their engine (button mashing time for human opponents), drop mines or even fire some weapons in reverse. These abilities all have upgrades as you progress. This adds a deeper level of strategy and all benefit the player when used properly. A well placed mine, or a timed shield can easily turn the tide. These game mechanics quite flexible and are only going to be as deep as you make them, so it's a good idea that you play through the tutorial to get a good sense of everything.
The single player campaign isn't exactly meaty and can be beaten quickly with enough patience, but the bulk of your time is undoubtedly going to be spent with the Multiplayer component. So those of you looking for a good solo experience are going to have to look elsewhere. You and a buddy can both play together online via split-screen (or LAN support), or you can have a group of friends over for four player split-screen action. Twisted Metal has broken down its multiplayer modes into three categories: Free-for-all, Team, and Objective. Free-for-all consists of Death Match, Last Man Standing and Hunted, while the Team modes are simply variants of the first three, but, you know, with a team to help you out. Objective consists of Nuke, and this is a new entry to the series. Teams are broken into attackers and defenders, and the objective is to either destroy or defend a statue. To attack a statue, you must find 3 opposing faction leaders spread out on the map, run them over and drag their bodies to a machine that sacrifices one body for one Nuke which you manually guide to the target.
The game play is not without its faults, though. The biggest problem came with the boss battles in the single player campaign. One in particular incorporates Nuke's structure, but the challenge is only in that cheap kind of difficulty where all odds are against you. Not only do you have a boss to contend with, but you need to destroy a car containing a faction leader, while about four other NPCS are tossed into the equation. Now, this could have been a decent challenge, except the AI was unnecessarily unforgiving. In a Nuke match, players battle each other to get to the faction leader, and yet in this level each and every single NPC worked together to get you. You don't even need to drag the leader; they will find and attack you regardless. There wasn't a single instant where I found the NPCs fighting each other to claim the the faction leader. This is a very small complaint, and once you find out the strategy to the boss it becomes easier to accomplish but nevertheless it is frustratingly present.
Graphically speaking, Twisted Metal sets no bench mark, but at the same time it doesn't need to. The maps are enormous and sport destructible environments. For those looking for more confined arenas, the game also offers the ability to choose smaller sections of each map to have closer quarters to brawl in. Vehicle models are nicely detailed, and everything runs at a blistering 60 frames per second. When you take that into consideration, you can forgive the fact that it's not quite the show-stopper. It put a higher emphasis on responsive gameplay, vehicle stat balance, and weapon variety over high-end visuals. Cutscenes give off that B-slasher-movie feel, and they are all live action, which gives it a very retro feel. The music consists of a wide selection of metal, electronic, and rap. You can also include your own custom soundtracks so you can listen to your own playlist as you leave totalled cars, and flaming drives in your wake.
Online has been overwhelmingly fantastic. The majority of players have mics (odd to mention, but most PSN vets ought to be shocked) and communicate frequently. Most, if not all have been singing verses on how much fun this game is. And that is precisely the word I would sum up my experience with Twisted Metal's online: fun. Matches get hectic quickly with players swarming around, destroying buildings, gunning down one another and completing objectives. Regardless of the smaller gripes, Twisted Metal is a stellar package. If you are looking for an online game that is refreshing and different from all the shooters and would like a dose of good old fashioned arcade-styled fun, then I can easily, and highly recommend Twisted Metal.
Twisted Metal was reviewed on the PS3. You can read more about GamingUnion.net's scoring policy here.