What Is Twisted Metal: Black?
You’ve probably seen the clown with the fire for hair? That’s Sweet Tooth, the iconic mascot for the PlayStation car combat series, Twisted Metal. Twisted Metal: Black is the fifth Twisted Metal game, and the first one available on the PS2. It took a notably darker direction from prior entries in the series, enough to earn it Twisted Metal’s first ever “Mature” rating. In Twisted Metal, competitors take part in a competition held by the dark and twisted Calypso, a man with the power to grant any wish to the victor of the tournament.
Most of the characters have distinctly twisted stories, vehicles, and personalities themselves, and Black ups the ante on the dark subplots of each car’s driver. Combat is held in various levels, from a drive-in movie parking lot, to a sprawling suburbia complete with neighborhoods and a carnival on a hill (try shooting the Ferris wheel!). While previous games traveled the world and were bright and colorful, Twisted Metal: Black takes place entirely in the city of Midtown amid a wash of grays and browns, like it’s the city that color forgot.
Weapons are scattered around the map to be picked up and used against your competition. Series staples like the homing missile, ricochet shots, and energy attacks make a return, in addition to each vehicle’s special attack, such as Sweet Tooth’s ice cream truck transforming into a psychotic mecha-clownbot that you probably want to stay away from if you have “living” on your to-do list for the day.
Successfully navigating the twisted metal (no, I will not apologize for that pun) of up to eight other vehicles across eight levels offers insight on your chosen driver’s dark history, including a fully animated and voiced intro scene, mid-game scene, and ending video. You’d better watch out though. Calypso isn’t known to be the kindest of souls — in fact, it’s questionable if he’s even human at all — and his granting of wishes often comes with a twisted catch. The blood and dark themes of the game certainly earned Twisted Metal: Black its Mature rating when it released in 2001, at which time it was deservedly given a 91 average score on Metacritic.
Is It Worth Revisiting?
Fifteen years is a long time, and graphically, Twisted Metal: Black does show its age. The gameplay is still a lot of fun, though it’s unforgiving and difficult even at its lowest setting. Getting to see the stories of each of the patients (and some non-patients) of Blackfield Asylum makes me miss the old days of Twisted Metal, before the PS3 game’s weird story structure changed everything. It’s exciting to see each individual driver’s history, and discover how it plays out.
If you haven’t played a Twisted Metal game before, the control scheme might take some getting used to. There are a few different ones to choose from, so there’s no need to worry too much if the default controls are a bit odd. And if you find that difficulty getting the better of you? Well, all of the classic Twisted Metal: Black cheat codes are intact with this version, so feel free to ‘mega gun,’ ‘infinite ammo,’ and ‘god mode’ your way to victory. Let’s not forget the secret unlockable characters and levels, which can hardly ever be found modern games anymore.
If there’s one part of the game that didn’t age well, it’s the drab environments. Washing out the game in grays and browns may have made it notably more edgy than its PS1 predecessors back in 2001, but as we round on 2016, I can’t help but wish for more colors. The brightness of the PS1 era games always juxtaposed so well with the underlying dark nature of the game. Bringing that darkness to the surface and laying it onto the aesthetics smudges much of the game together, despite vehicles and levels actually being quite unique. Instead the cars don’t feel quite as iconic and the levels don’t seem quite as distinct from one another.
Don’t let that prevent you from replaying (or playing for the first time) one of the best Twisted Metal games though. That darkness is both its biggest strength and weakness. If I were to enter Calpyso’s tournament and win, I would wish for another proper Twisted Metal game. I would wish for it to have proper character-by-character story structure and individual, idiosyncratic drivers matching up with their own crazy rides. Given that Twisted Metal: Black did so and I’m still wishing for that 15 years later, I’d say it’s aged pretty well.
The Trophy List
One huge draw of PS2 on PS4 is the trophy compatibility of these games. While Twisted Metal: Black does not have a Platinum trophy to obtain, the trophy list is not all that difficult, and if you find yourself having trouble at any time, you can simply enter any of a variety of cheats to help tip things in your favor.
You’ll have to unlock all characters and levels to 100% this trophy list, which does mean beating the game with every character. There are a couple of miscellaneous trophies related to challenge and endurance modes, but again, these are very simply overcome as cheats do not disable trophies at all. An extremely easy trophy list where god mode is concerned — a Friday night and a bottle of wine or whiskey could net you a 100% for this list without much issue.
Twisted Metal Black PS4 review code provided by Sony. For more information on reviews, please read our Review Policy here.