The team at Eat, Sleep, Play has been in the business of vehicular combat now for about 15 years. Now, with the PS3 exclusive Twisted Metal, they have reached a pinnacle of their creativity.
In a world not much different than our own, there has been a competition created by the mysterious CEO Calypso. In it, players with various levels of distress are thrown together in a winner take all, fight to the death using their favorite modes of transportation. To the victor will be a wish granted by the fight's founder Calypso, and make no mistake about it, Caveat Emptor. If you happen to get the ultimate prize in this game, be careful what you wish for.
One of the most interesting aspects that brought me into this little chunk of violence is the way that they really took the story to a whole new level. In it, they focus on the characters Sweet Tooth, Mr. Grimm, and Dollface. When starting up the single player, I was expecting to see your kind of generic story and focus the combat around it. The story by far is the most disturbing of the series, by using actors in lieu of CGI scenes; they have created an eerie almost sickening take on the depth of the characters various levels of insanity. In the hopes of not spoiling it too much, we all know by now that Sweet Tooth is a serial killer. The direction that they have focused on in his plight to achieve his sadistic wish really threw me for a loop on just how graphic and personal they went into his psyche. In short, it left me feeling a little awkward after completing his storyline.
Across the single player which is partitioned with events surrounded by the movies, you will find yourself competing in modes such as Survival, Death match, Race, and DM Juggernaut. The last of which there is a semi that is constantly spawning enemies from its trailer every minute or so. All of the modes involve some level of destruction to your opponents with the only mode being Race where your objective doesn't require you to blow up your opponents, but it helps. Each level that you complete will also be given a grade on how well you completed it by giving you either a Gold, silver, or bronze medal which will constantly challenge you to go back and complete them for the top bragging rights as the ranking is uploaded every time you finish a level.
The action in Twisted Metal goes from fast paced to FREAKING INSANE in a matter of seconds. Moments from you beginning the match, you can at times find yourself being bombarded by all of your opponents at once depending on where you start off at. The only things that you can do in order to have a chance of survival is either to turbo the heck out of there or try to hope that you have enough shields in place for you to stand your ground.
This game would not be complete without an arsenal of weapons and destructible environments which give this brand what it is known for. Each power up is strategically placed and balanced in the levels so that you will not have the opportunity to take too much advantage of your opponents and at the same time, it never feels like it is enough. That might just be because, after playing this for a few weeks, I still find myself struggling to survive in these chaotic worlds. This game might be a little difficult for those of you who are new to the series but rest assured, it is this way for a reason. As we are finding out, it is forcing you to continually learn new ways to survive and compete with utilizing all of your options and powers in order to succeed. Side note, no company would ever release a game if no one would ever be able to beat it on all levels.
They did manage to keep the majority of characters in this game from the previous series with new cars added like the Kamikaze, which is a pure speed demon on the road with guns. They also have added a helicopter to add a new dimension of combat. Although it can fly, the areas are boxed in so that it will not be able to fly too high in order to get away from the action and snipe away at your enemies. Surprisingly enough, they did keep Axel in this sequel. Axel is the two giant wheels where a contestant is in the center controlling its directions. At the same time, they did not include a story for him even though he was on one of the previous box covers. With all of these vehicles, you get tight, responsive controls with all of them. Even though some of them might be too slow or too fast to your liking, there is always that one vehicle that will suit anyone's style.
The level design has taken what made this game great and just polished the heck out of it. They have taken the fights to areas all over the country and still manage to not make them too big, or too small. My favorite level is the L.A. Skyline where you are simply placed on the top of the buildings and are continually trying to survive while at the same time watching out for those pesky ledges which will send you plummeting to the ground below for massive damage. Other areas such as Sunsprings, Calif., where it is a nice little suburban community where you can smash up all the homes and dreams of its citizens in order to get those special power ups or avoid being pummeled by your stalkers. Each of the maps in this are highly destructible which gives way for new pathways and hidden items which are a nice surprise to the amount of carnage that you are having to deal with.
As for the online modes, they have made it easy for players to pop in and out. At the same time, players are able to go with another player locally and still take part in the online battles and in single player co-op for the storyline. The modes online are very similar to those offline but this time, you will get to take on the thousands of gamers in the real world while challenging yourself to be ranked top in the world. With matches that include up to sixteen players, you can expect the carnage to happen fast and plentiful. With the multiplayer modes, the newest addition to the franchise is the inclusion of "Nuke". In this mode each team will take control in turn to try to capture the opposing team's leader and then feed them to a demonic wood chipper that will fuel the contraption for launching a missile that you will have to guide into your giant robot nemesis. This mode is one of the most satisfying because of the team element and while at the same time you get a great sense of balance based on how difficult it is to actually hold their leader long enough to launch that rocket.
With the last version of this game being released almost ten years ago, the team has had an abundance of time to complete develop and polish the heck out of this game. Even though it feels like the same old Twisted Metal formula that we have come to know and love, the amount of perfection that has been put into this one defiantly shows how strong the team there is and just how passionate they are about the level of quality that they place in their titles.
As far as concerns go about this game, I have found myself having to restart it from time to time while turning it on. There are periods of time where the game is trying to connect to the servers and just tends to freeze within that communication. I do understand that it is still new and there is a lot of stress being put on their network but they could have at least put a override button in to bypass it so you could just go on to play single player offline.
I also wish that there were more characters to take part in the story but at the same time, I was very happy with the ones that were placed into this game. At the end of it, I did not feel like I was missing anything by not having every single character's tale of psychosis laid out in front of me.
With those minor complaints which could possibly be fixed over time (New DLC stories anyone?) The game really impressed me on a level that I was not expecting. With tight controls, variety of cars where each one felt different and not the same vehicle with a different skin, and a nauseating storyline, the latest and perhaps the last one that we will see on this generation has greatly satisfied my need to blow up cars and buildings.
Final Game Guys grade: A-
- by John Speerbrecker for news10.net's Game Guys
(SCEA provided a copy of this game for review.)