Published by Sony Computer
Developed by Eat, Sleep, Play
Twisted Metal is the latest in a series of vehicular combat games which began on the original PlayStation console and PC. Whilst the series initially appeared on the PC however, it was one of those original game experiences that helped define the PlayStation brand. Over the years the series has garnered a hardcore following and in many respects it’s surprising that it’s taken this long for the series to debut on the PlayStation 3.
In Twisted Metal the sinister Calypso and his wild and destructive tournaments have returned after more than ten years away. The tournaments, which involve all kinds of strange characters such as the demonic, murderous clown known as Sweet Tooth, Mr Grimm and Dollface are back to create havoc and mass destruction. Both the driving and the range of weapons on offer here are impressive and if you’re a fan of the Twisted Metal series and vehicular combat in general, there’s a lot of fun to be had as long as you’re enjoying the game with friends or playing against opponents online.
Whilst Twisted Metal mostly remains true to the earlier games in the series, there are some differences this time around. Probably the most notable difference is that the game’s characters are not tied to their signature vehicles. If you select Sweet Tooth for instance you don’t have to use his rather disturbing ice cream van and are free to choose to use the other vehicles in the game. In some respects this is good thing, as the range of vehicles is rather pleasing and you can take advantage of their special weapons and abilities, however, it seems rather odd and doesn’t feel as though you’re playing with your chosen character in the correct fashion.
There are a handful of game modes in Twisted Metal but essentially they all more or less boil down to simply trying to obliterate your rivals with whatever weapons you have at your disposal. The multiplayer modes - LAN, split-screen and online play are all supported - include game types such as Death Match, Last Man Standing, Hunted (there are team variations of these three types too) in addition to Nuke and Story where two players can play through the story mode together via split-screen. Nuke mode is a little bizarre in that you have to capture the enemy leader and then take them to a launcher and sacrifice them by firing a nuke at your enemy’s statue. As an online experience Twisted Metal hits the spot and will thrill fans of vehicular combat games.
Whilst Twisted Metal is on the mark as a multiplayer title, I don’t think anyone could argue that the single-player content in Twisted Metal isn’t disappointing and it definitely comes across as nothing more than an afterthought. The single-player story mode doesn’t feature a story for each of the game’s characters this time around. Instead there are three stories, which are comprised of six chapters each. These chapters are essentially challenges — with very little in the way of storyline — for three characters only, Sweet Tooth, Mr Grimm and Dollface. Only having stories for three characters and not much in the way of storyline feels both lacklustre and disappointing and gives the impression that it was something that was added late in the game’s development to bulk out the single-player content which also includes a challenge mode. The story mode has some balance issues with a couple of infuriating difficulty spikes that feel unfair and designed to simply slow your progress down. That said however, the story mode doesn’t last that long and most will be finished with it in a day or two.
The controls in Twisted Metal are actually impressive and all of the vehicles are extremely responsive and easy to manoeuvre. The control scheme itself does have a significant learning curve however. Practically every function of the controller is utilised as you’ll steer, fire weapons, switch between weapons, perform turbos and reverse turbos, fire weapons behind you, jump, raise shields and perform special attacks. I certainly found that it took me a while to stop hitting the wrong buttons. The upside of this however is that once you’ve passed through the initial learning phase you’ll be impressed with the depth of the game’s control scheme.
Visually Twisted Metal is a decent looking PlayStation 3 game but it’s certainly no more than that. Probably the most impressive aspect of the game is how smooth the frame rate remains when there is a lot of action taking place on screen. Many of the objects in the environments that you compete in are destructible. As with most games where there is a strong focus on destruction, the damage modelling is unrealistic and exaggerated for effect but at least it’s never distracting. The game’s live-action cut scenes are just as twisted and disturbing as you might expect from the series and are in keeping with the general mood of the game.
Fans of the series will be pleased to learn that the game is subtitled although by default the subtitles are not enabled. You’ll be able to follow the small amount of storyline in the game without any problems. The game also features a training mode as well as general hints and tips to help you get to grips with the various gameplay concepts and modes. The training messages and hints and tips are in text so you’ll be able to get to grips with the game without any problems. In short, the single-player experience at least represents no problems for deaf gamers but your mileage may vary with the multiplayer experience due to the use of voice communications.
As long as you’re simply looking for a gripping multiplayer vehicular combat game, and don’t expect much of the single-player experience, Twisted Metal will definitely appeal. Those hoping for a quality single-player vehicular combat game experience should definitely look elsewhere however as the single-player content on offer here is rather limp and won’t keep you busy for long. If multiplayer is what you’re after however, you will definitely appreciate what Twisted Metal has to offer.