|Developer: Eat Sleep Play
Release Date: Out Now
Players/Online features: Solo campaign, 2-4 split-screen, 2-16 online
The Twisted Metal franchise must be on about its seventh outing now and is one of the longest-running franchises on Sony’s consoles, making its debut as an original PlayStation launch title way back in 1995. It has therefore acquired “gaming royalty” status in my book, and should thus be treated with some level of respect and decorum when reviewing it, even if you find that its metallic gameplay is full of holes...
Twisted Metal has an extremely dark back story that tells the tale of Sweet Tooth the psychopathic clown, Mr. Grimm the mad, father-fixated biker and Dollface the mental supermodel. This divides the game into three chapters each of which end in a boss battle, so if you hate lengthy boss battles I’d stop reading now. One in particular is a doozy, and took me 43 minutes to complete! (Thankfully it does have checkpoints within the various stages of the boss fight if you fail).
Other problems include some sluggish response to button inputs and audible messages that erroneously inform you of your weapon status/availability because the game moves at such a pace and the announcer speaks so slowly. Your special weapons’ availability seems to come and go at a whim, and apparently you lose its use if you’re hit in the interim period.
TM has some of the most aggressive AI opponents I’ve ever come across, they don’t just fight amongst themselves and let you pick them off one by one like a lot of games, they come at you four or five at a time, and initially at least, this can be hugely daunting and off-putting, The game doesn’t really ease you in gently enough and you’re expected to master the controls, learn the maps and use each vehicle’s weapons’ strengths to the maximum from the outset.
The vehicle’s physics don’t make any sense either. Although the larger, heavier vehicles handle more sluggishly and have the highest level of armour to protect them, they don’t seem to have the correct mass, so they can be violently diverted if they collide with much smaller vehicles and even nudged annoyingly when racing side by side. Even a sportscar or the helicopter, which have no armour at all, will ram them when they obviously shouldn’t actually dare to as any collision would mean certain death and destruction. This is particularly annoying during the race events when you have to pass through a certain number of narrow checkpoint gates. Some more thought, testing and balancing of the weapons and physics was definitely in order.
The vehicles are just as twisted as you might expect; brutish armoured versions of innocent-looking vehicles like a sedan, muscle car, van, tow truck, 18-wheeler big rig, semi-truck, SUV, sports car, ambulance, hearse, helicopter, chopper motor cycle and of course, Sweet Tooth’s ice cream van-all of which can be painted with a selection of customised paint jobs. There are a few additional vehicles to unlock that will be familiar to TM veterans including Warthog (an SUV body mounted on tank tracks) and Axel, which is basically a pair of huge tractor wheels with your character in the middle.
The various landscape settings look good without stretching the PS3’s graphical capabilities too far, and although some of the maps seemed under-tested as they have numerous places where you can get stuck, the genius of Black Rock Stadium’s ever-changing levels is probably the high point of the game. The level of damage and the sheer amount of on-screen mayhem is impressive but some of the race tracks’ design leaves a lot to be desired, with fiddly slopes that even the muscle cars won’t climb and unfriendly, evil even, jumps that plummet you straight into disaster if you get them slightly wrong.
Twisted Metal not only looks impressive but also sounds amazing, with all the explosive and weapons sounds you’d expect blended with some perfectly apt music. The highpoint is probably the evocative and melancholy “Crazy” by Patsy Cline, which just about sums the entire game up better than my review ever could...
- Eye-pleasing amounts of on-screen mayhem.
- Nice variation in landscapes, vehicles, weapons etc.
- Highly-aggressive AI and a steep learning curve.
- The physics needed work.
- Sticky points on maps.