PS3 Review – Twisted Metal

You better bolt your door and shut your windows because the Twisted Metal competition is coming to your town. It’s been a long time since gamers were able to experience all the vehicular mayhem that the Twisted Metal series has to offer, but is the franchise still true to its roots? Is the PS3’s iteration of the Twisted Metal franchise everything a fan could want and more? Read on to find out.

This game is all about speed. Players will need to think quickly and be able to keep up with the action as it is happening. Luckily, the cars in Twisted Metal have some of the most unrealistic, yet responsive controls. There aren’t many games on the PS3 where the cars drive just as fast in reverse as they do in drive….in fact, I don’t think there are any games where the cars handle like this. Twisted Metal takes the arcade driving mechanics from games like the Burnout series and kicks it up a notch. Every car has the ability to turn on a dime, and the smaller cars seem to accelerate from 0 to 200 mph in 2 seconds. The larger cars, like the semi, won’t be able to accelerate or maneuver as quickly as the smaller cars, but ramming other cars will send them flying. Not only is ramming cars fun, but this time around it actually does damage. So, if you run out of missiles you always have the option of ramming your opponent and watching your car tear through them like butter. This is just one of the small gameplay tweaks that is able to add some needed variety to the gameplay, much like the inclusion of a helicopter…oh yeah, did I mention that Twisted Metal has helicopters?

On paper, you could think that putting a helicopter into a vehicle combat game would be completely unbalanced, but the implementation of the possible aerial assault is done very well. First of all, a lot of the weapons on the cars have a very broad lock-on range. Flying 100 feet into the air won’t protect you from being pelted from machine gun bullets or homing missiles. So, players using the helicopter (called the Talon) are encouraged to stay low to avoid being shot at from across the stage. However, this also leaves the player open to attacks from a cars special weapon which might have limited range. The Talon has a weak armor rating but the most maneuverability out of any vehicle, so getting out of tough situations is fairly easy. The balancing of the Talon is typical of all the cars in the game. There isn’t a single vehicle that is the kill-all ultimate weapon. They all have their strengths and weaknesses that players can take advantage of and, more importantly, there is a sense of variety between the vehicles so it doesn’t feel like you are playing the same car with a different paint job.

This game really emphasizes the variety of the gameplay. It isn’t just the amount of bullets a car can take or how fast it can go, but the special weapons that give each car its character. For example, Sweet Tooth’s ice cream truck can shoot a missile that passes through walls and floors, the semi truck can drop a load of mines, the Talon puts you in control of a mounted mini gun, and the Japanese muscle car has a flamethrower. So, the Japanese muscle car (called Kamikaze in the game) likes to stay close to enemies to use its special, but Sweet tooth’s truck has to stay far away. Too close and you will shoot right over their head, and the missile turns very slowly so a car that turns tightly can easily escape it. It’s best to shoot it from far away so it can go through a few walls and surprise an unsuspecting victim. Players will have to learn the nuances of the different special weapons and adapt their play style for every different vehicle. The career mode provides ample practice for veterans and newcomers alike.

Why So Serious?...Oh Wait, Wrong Clown

The career mode has definitely improved from past iterations of the series. Granted, most of the previous entries were on the PS1 where gaming was much….simpler, but it should still be noted that it is a huge improvement. As opposed to previous entries, where you just fight X opponents and then a boss over and over, the levels are broken up into different play styles. Some are just like the classic Twisted Metal levels where you are placed in a town and have to defeat a certain number of opponents. There are also levels where the player is dropped into a coliseum type level (called a kill-iseum…get it?) to battle opponents. These levels are great because they include traps and segments of the floor that will raise, lower, or become booby trapped throughout the match. There are also cage matches, where players are placed in a city but fighting has to take place within designated “cages.” Anyone caught outside these cages will start to take damage after a certain period of time, and the cages will move throughout the level. So, one minute you are in an all out brawl, and the next minute everyone is racing to the next spot. It’s definitely the most intense game match. Boss battles are their own separate levels and these are just as much fun. There are also racing missions, which are the least exciting out of all the game modes. There really is only one or two cars that make sense for the races, and the races themselves are bland and unremarkable. Speaking of unremarkable, the story isn’t something you will remember for years to come.

The story is definitely the weakest part of the game. On the positive side, the live action cutscenes are a very nice touch and they serve as a unique, immersive tool for telling the story. It’s just too bad that story is cheesy, cliché, and doesn’t really allow me to connect with the characters. In Twisted Metal, the story follows just three characters, Sweet Tooth, Mr. Grimm, and Dollface. As you play through each storyline, the history of each character will be unraveled in three or four cutscenes. I tried really hard to like the story, but the delivery of most of the lines just made me cringe. Anytime Sweet Tooth opens that dumb clown mouth of his, I just lose a little respect for him. Sweet Tooth is an incredibly dumb “villain” and the icing on the cake is his wish from Calypso. As is customary with Twisted Metal games, Calypso always turns the contest winners wish into something they wouldn’t like. So, Sweet Tooth is after someone he wants to kill and his wish is to be sent to where that person is. Now, where could that person be that would totally suck for Sweet Tooth? I won’t tell you the answer, but it is most likely what you are thinking. Thankfully, anytime you need to wash the stale taste of the Twisted Metal story out of your mouth, there is always the multiplayer to turn to.

Everything I have said about the gameplay applies to the online mode, and it is really the online multiplayer that serves to highlight the best aspects of the game. Sure, the variety of the gameplay shows in the career mode, but against real human opponents is where the different play styles between vehicles becomes very apparent. Two fast cars can be chasing each other around the level, while a semi rams through a group of combatants, and a Talon drops in every once in a while to release a volley of missiles. Little skirmishes arise and then collapse into one giant battle and then break off again, so that matches are like a rollercoaster. This is true of most of the online modes like elimination and nuke, but the hunted match players very differently. In hunted, one person becomes the target of every player and only killing the hunted player or killing someone as the hunted will get you points. So, this match stays as one giant battle of pure chaos. No matter which game mode you are playing, Twisted Metal multiplayer is likely the be the most fun multiplayer experience you will have in a long time.

The best part about Twisted Metal on the original PlayStation was sitting down with a group of friends and having a blast blasting each other to bits. Twisted Metal on the PS3 certainly keeps that spirit alive with a truly great multiplayer experience. The story itself may not make you shriek in excitement (remember that grandma from Twisted Metal II that only wanted to watch her soap operas?), but the multiplayer certainly will.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score

– Story is lackluster

+ Online multiplayer is a blast!

+ Just the re-invigoration the franchise needed

8.5 out of 10