Review - Twisted Metal

Posted on February 24, 2012 - 7:34pm

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6.5/10
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 Twisted Metal is one of longest running franchises in the Playstation library. With the father of car carnage at the helm, will David Jaffe and Eat Sleep Play have what is takes to make another hit? Find out in our review of Twisted Metal.

Graphics

The landscape shown in Twisted Metal is bleak, yet there is still color to the environments. Arenas are filled with personality, offering you a number of paths for destruction. You can see that destruction in the debris exploding off of your car as you barrel through building after building. The cars are also destructible, and the explosions are glorious to behold. Some ballistic weapons fall short on boom, but the animations manage to look great. Running over an enemy driver after his car has been destroyed provides a blood splatter across the screen, which is a nice touch.

The story presentation leaves a lot to be desired. The character-driven stories are shot in a live action style with a grindhouse-esque filter. The designers of Twisted Metal seem to take the story very seriously and its presentation reflects that in the cutscenes. Some scenes are re-used, which can be a bit jarring to re-watch the same scene across multiple cutscenes.

The UI was one of least impressive things about Twisted Metal. It feels very antiquated for a modern game, using blood splatter motifs to guide you through gameplay modes and vehicles. So while I enjoy the visual flair of Twisted Metal’s car combat, navigating the menus to get there was boring.

Sound

The soundtrack for Twisted Metal kicks ass, bridging gangsta rap and heavy metal. Music from NWA, White Zombie, and Judas Priest makes you excited to blow stuff up. There is also a healthy mix of original music to complement the licensed music, but the main menu riff gets old quickly. Little sound effects surrounding the combat are also great. Voice work is satisfactory, but there aren’t very many scenes were the voice acting stood out. Narration over the gameplay is sparse and does very little for the experience. I have to commend them on their choice in music as it sets the tone for the game as a whole.

Gameplay

The heart of every Twisted Metal game is chaos. Car combat games are essentially a destruction derby with projectiles. This latest installment does a great job of capturing that feeling and running with it. Arenas are wide open spaces with plenty of room to keep moving. There are medical trucks that cruise the highway. Not only will ramping one of these refill your health, it will also propel you back into battle.

The weapons are broken into three parts; primary, secondary, and abilities. The primary weapon starts as mounted guns, but can be exchanged for various side arms. Secondary power ups are their own weapon slot and include a wide array of missiles, bombs, and guns. Abilities consist of two subsets: energy and specials. Specials are part of the secondary weapons button and each car has two specials that are unique, like speed and armor. The energy abilities, on the other hand, feel like a waste. Each ability will upgrade once, but never in a way that felt useful. In fact, the freeze ability was the only energy weapon I would use. Landmines and the shield didn’t bring much to the table.

Gameplay variety is another example of how Twisted Metal gets a lot right, but still has a few shortcomings. Arena combat is great, and the variations like “Cage mode” and “Nuke Mode” increase the scope of both multiplayer and single player. Boss battles are also awesome and over the top. Bosses each have unique mechanics and an impressive sense of scale. Then there are the races, which are more frustrating than they should have been. My biggest gripe comes from the chaos factor that is inherent to this game combined with poor course layout. Some races having you jumping across roof tops. Should you fall, there is no re-spawn to keep you in the race. Instead, you have to figure out how to climb back up the building (which isn’t always an option), and typically I would be too far behind to win by that point.

Multiplayer features a few additional modes, such as a Last Man Standing, Team-based Deathmatch and Team-based Objective. Some of these modes offer the option of using a helicopter, which I highly recommend. It certainly can break the experience a little, but the helicopter is balanced in a way that makes it just as vulnerable as a car.

One last sticking point for me was how the game controls were introduced. The problem is that they do not take the time to introduce you to them in the single player, nor can you see a button layout in the Options Menu. You can go outside the Story Menu to find a tutorial, but it isn’t communicated very well that there is an option. Even then, the tutorial is pretty straight forward by having the player perform each action three times and then bringing you back to the menu. It should do a better job of explaining when and how to use weapons, not just let you hit a button three times. Altogether though, Twisted Metal captures that visceral experience of car combat and slaps you in the face with it.

Replayability

On the surface, Twisted Metal seems like it has a lot to offer between its single-player campaign, multiplayer options, and challenge mode. When you break it down though, the content is sparse. Story Mode only follows three characters, and the actual stories are rather dull and uninspired. Combined play time is three to four hours, plus about 40 minutes worth of cutscenes. There are three levels of difficulty and you can play through the story on co-op, but once finished, there is little reason to go back. Challenge mode is essentially a glorified bot match, which is what it should have been called in the first place.

Multiplayer, on the other hand, is extensive, allowing up to four player split-screen and 16-players online. There is a persistent leveling system that unlocks new cars, skins, and weapons. The only problem here is that the matchmaking is broken. About half the time I would attempt to log into a match, there would be some sort of network error. This is an issue that is being addressed, but for day one purchasers, this is unacceptable.

Twisted Metal does a great job of capturing the feeling you know and love from playing a car combat game, but the overall package is lacking. While there are not too many car combat games to pick from, this is a must own for hardcore fans only. The first few hours can be a blast, but casual players will find themselves bored after a few sessions.

6.5 / 10
Above Average

(6s have good ideas, but may not be executed the best. It can be enjoyable by certain circumstances or fans, but may feel shallow to most.)

ScrewAttack's News Director Sean Hinz worked in logistics for over four years before decided it was time to switch industries. After a couple years spent getting an MBA and freelancing, he finally found a home at ScrewAttack.com. As far as games go, Sean likes to play anything he can get his hands on, but especially enjoys third-person action RPGs. Is that really a genre?

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