Twisted Metal Review
Developer: Eat Sleep Play
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE)
North American Release Date: February 14, 2012
European Release Date: March 7, 2012
Trophies: Yes, 1 | 5 | 5 | 29
Twisted Metal can be compared to those gritty reboots of movie series that are released every now and then. Compared to the original movie, the remake has a lot more blood, gore, death, and cursing. In fact, if you were to take this comparison to Twisted Metal and use it on the original Playstation 1 game you will find that this is an accurate comparison. The designers of the original Twisted Metal went back to their roots and tried to make this game as gritty and hardcore as possible without sacrificing any necessary elements. Revealed to the world through a surprise live E3 2010 announcement (along with a real version of Sweet Tooth appearing), Twisted Metal has all the makings of a great vehicular combat game.
Starting from the Playstation 1, the gameplay of the Twisted Metal franchise has never been dramatically changed with the basic premise remaining the same in each game. The designers at Eat Sleep Play realized that the formula that originally made Twisted Metal was great and that messing with it to ‘improve it’ could do more harm then good.
Each game boils down to the following: there is a man named Calypso with the power to grant wishes that comes from either a magical ring on his hand or a demon from Hell. He promises to grant a person one wish if they were to enter his tournament of Twisted Metal and kill/destroy/maim every other competitor that also entered as well as killing as many innocent bystanders as you possibly can. Of course, being the magical genie that he is, Calypso never gives you exactly what you want.
There are four factions in Twisted Metal, with three of them available in the single player story and the fourth available only in the multiplayer. The four factions are: the Clowns (led by Sweet Tooth), the Dolls (led by Dollface), the Skulls (led by Mr. Grimm), and the online-only Holy Men (led by Preacher). In order to make things fair, there aren’t any gameplay differences between each of the gangs, each of them are able to use all the different weapons, special attacks, and vehicles in the game without worry. Speaking of which, there are a lot of different vehicles in the game to choose from.
This Twisted Metal is unique in the fact that you can use every vehicle with the driver of your choice. In earlier games, each driver had a particular car that they drove and that was it, you could not have, for instance, Outlaw drive Warthog. But in order to compensate for the overall lack of drivers, the developers decided to do away with this one driver-one car rule and allow the vehicles to be used by everyone.
There are a total of 17 vehicles including cars, trucks, semis, and helicopters that can be unlocked for use in the single and multiplayer modes. Each vehicle has two distinct specials (unlike the single special attacks in earlier games) along with differing ratings on their armor, speed, and special attack power. This means that the helicopter you love so much that can fly really fast and do a lot of damage can only take 2-3 missiles before you crash and burn.
Car versus transformer never ends well...
While there have not been any gameplay changes introduced in this game, there have been several weapons and battle arenas added that make it a lot more fun. For weapons, there are the Stalker and Swarmer missiles. Holding down the fire button for both of these missiles charges them up with the Stalker missile gaining increased homing capabilities and the Swarmer missile releasing more missiles when launched. It is weapons like these that help to prevent just a shoot everything at once scenario by limiting the amount of damage you can do by just pressing the button. Oh, and let me mention the Sniper Rifle, for just a brief second.
Many times in Twisted Metal have I been the target of the dreaded red laser sight and have immediately tried to find cover. The problem isn’t the weapon itself; a quick shot only does 16 body damage. No, the problem is the charge period. If the person with the Sniper Rifle, manages to stay locked on to a driver long enough, they can one-shot kill them with a simple headshot. This is great if you are the one with the weapon, but terrible if you aren’t and are stuck out in a large, open area with no cover in sight.
The character stories in Twisted Metal are basically the same as in all the earlier games in the series. Each of the drivers (who are each homicidal maniacs, mass murders, or just plainly psychotic) are hoping to win the contest for the chance to wish for anything they want. However, to get their wish they will have to survive against the other contestants various factions whose sole purposes are to stop you from winning.
Unlike earlier games in the series, you are unable to play all of the stories from the start. You first have to play through Sweet Tooth’s story, whose ending starts Mr. Grimm’s story, then followed by Dollface’s. A big addition to the game is the introduction of live-action cut scenes at the beginning, middle, and end of each character’s story. If you played Twisted Metal: Black, then you can pretty much understand to purpose of each of the three cut scenes. The opening scene introduces the new character and gives a basic understanding of what they want to wish for, the middle movie gives background on the character such as why they want that wish and the final scene shows them gaining their wish from Calypso.
The difficulty curve of the game is also quite dramatic. While playing on normal is pretty tame and manageable, if you try to play on Twisted without some experience with the game (Rank 25 online seems to be a good benchmark) you will most likely die many, many times.
You are only given one life in the single player, but for compensation you are given access to a garage. At the start of every match, you are told to pick up to three vehicles to fight with. If you somehow lose most of your health in the match, you can drive up to one of your garages (highlighted with the big green wrench on the map) and trade in your almost-destroyed vehicle for a brand new instrument of destruction. If you happen to die (which will most likely occur quite often on Twisted difficulty) you do not have to worry about a game over screen. Instead, you will be forced to restart the level you died on.
The single player campaign is made up of several levels that include various challenges besides the original death match format. There are levels where you have to destroy the Juggernaut before it can spawn too many enemies, race against 15 other vehicles to arm the bombs attached to your cars and then race back and press the switch to destroy all the other bombs but yours, and electric fence fighting. Oh, and gigantic boss fights.
Before each character can win the tournament and claim their “free” wish, they must fight a boss driven by and modeled after one of the other two contestants. Sweet Tooth will fight a pair of monster trucks driven my Mr. Grimm, Mr. Grimm will fight a giant robot modeled after Dollface herself, and Dollface will face a carnival of destruction that only Sweet Tooth could have envisioned. Don’t think that these fights will be simple one-stage events. You will have to destroy specific targets in order to damage the boss enough to defeat them. In Sweet Tooth’s fight against Mr. Grimm after destroying one of the monster trucks, the other will gain armor that will make it impossible to damage. You will have to drive your gunner underneath the truck (while avoiding getting crushed) in order to plant C4 that will blow off the armor.
We're going to need more Power Missiles.
There are two things that I found to be lacking in the single player: the overall length of the campaign and the enemy AI. Through experience, the entire campaign only takes about 3-4 hours to beat, which is a lot less then earlier iterations of the series. The short length of the game compounded with the three playable characters really makes me think that the single player was shortchanged compared to the multiplayer. The other big problem was the AI. It appears, quite evidently in fact, that the AI has some sort of alliance or pact. Many times they will simply ignore each other to go after myself, even if they have 1% health and I am at full. I could be hiding on the rooftop of some building out of sight and all six of my opponents will just look for me and not once attack each other.
The multiplayer mode is where Twisted Metal really shines. If you enjoyed playing through the single player story, then you will probably have either one of two reactions to the online. You will either love it to death as the best thing to happen to Twisted Metal ever or you will curse it due to everyone always killing you first. The multiplayer was designed to address some of the key issues that have plagued the A.I. of Twisted Metal such as the issue of the other vehicles always targeting the player and nobody else as well as their predictability. I know from experience that when facing someone online in head-to-head vehicular combat to the death, predictability is thrown out the window.
Twisted Metal introduces a few new modes of gameplay into the multiplayer. In the earlier games, multiplayer combat was limited to one of two choices: two-player co-op or 2-4 player death matches. While death matches do exist in the online, the number of players able to fight at once has been increased four-fold to 16. Here is a list of the new gameplay types introduced in Twisted Metal:
- Hunted: One player will be deemed ‘it.’ This person will be given a green bullseye above their car and on their icon on the minimap. Their goal is to survive as long as possible before being killed. Whoever manages to kill them is made the new ‘hunted’ and is restored to full health. Every time you kill the hunted you receive a point, if a hunted kills another player, the hunted gets a point. The person with the most points at the end is the winner.
- Team Hunted: The same gamplay as in Hunted, but with two teams instead of a free-for-all. Each team will have a hunted that they will have to protect while at the same time try to kill the enemy hunted.
- Last Man Standing: Each player in the free-for-all will start the game with only a single life. The goal is to be the last man alive at the end of the match through either clever tactics such as hit-and-run, massive launches of missiles, or just being a chicken and hiding until only a few people remain.
- Team Last Man Standing: Much like the free-for-all version except that each team will have up to six extra lives. The first team to run out of both vehicles and extra lives loses.
- Nuke: A team game where your goal is to find and capture the faction leaders scattered throughout the level and sacrifice them to the missile launchers in the level. Once the missile is launched, you have to guide the missile into the enemy’s statue. This game is played over 3 rounds of alternating offensive and defensive periods.
Shooting missiles at giant effigies of the opposing faction is key to winning in Nuke games.
Unable to win at Deathmatch or never the last man standing at the end of the round? Then you are in luck, because the developers thought ahead and installed a gameplay filter for the multiplayer just for you. Using the filter, you can pick whether you want to change things such as: ranked/unranked games, type of game, whether the game has already started, length of game, and minimum number of people in a game.
If you played through the story before tackling the multiplayer then tough luck, all of your vehicles unlocked throughout the story will not be available. You are going to have to earn then all again through a convenient leveling system that awards experience based on many factors such as: being best player on the team, winning, number of kills/assists, time being the hunted, damage done, damage taken, kill streaks, etc. Every time that you advance a level, you will be given a point that you can spend on one of three things: unlocking a vehicle, unlocking a weapon or kill streak bonus, or vehicle skins. With an average of 400 experience awarded per game and levels taking 1k, 2k, 3k, 4k, and eventually 5k experience, you are going to have your hands full trying to gain all of those nice, deadly vehicles.
Don’t get the impression that you will only have the option of fighting random people with the small chance that you will eventually run into one of your PSN friends. You will be able to invite your friends into a clan of up to 42 people as well as form parties of up to 8 people. If you form a party, you will be auto-joined to any matches that the party leader is trying to join. Of course if you have 6 members and the leader tries joining an 11/14-player game, it will not let you in.
The multiplayer has had a lot of problems since the game was released, but surprisingly none of them pertained to gameplay bugs or glitches or even hacking. No, the major problems had to do with connection issues. While the problem had steadily improved over the week to the point where I can get into about half of the games I try to join, when the game was first released, I would be lucky to get in 1-in-9 games with the dreaded "Unable to Connect" screen popping up every time I tried to join a game. If you somehow manage to get into a lobby and have the game start, you still were (and are) not totally safe. Sometimes, for no apparent reason, the game will stop and kick you (and mostly everyone else) out of the game back to the game lobby screen with a message claiming you have a bad or poor Internet connection and to try again later (Yeah right, all 16 of us have terrible Internet at the same time). The connection issues, while they are being fixed, have managed to drag down a fantastic online experience into something where your every other thought is, "Will I be able to get into this game or not?"
Twisted Metal is a solid game that shows the amount of time and effort put into making sure the game was released perfectly. In fact, this game was supposed to be released around October 2011, but the designers held off on doing so because they felt it was not quite ready. Think for a minute about how many game designers will intentionally hold off on releasing a popular video game for more than a week or two.
Twisted Metal’s introduction to the world of HD gaming was very smooth. In fact, it can even be said that it was waiting for HD to come out. While I thoroughly enjoyed all the other games in the series, there is just something about realistically destroying a helicopter with a homing missile that makes me happy. The increase in the graphics as well as the processing power of the PS3 had allowed for larger, more immersive levels that have multiple floors and indoor areas; increasing the amount of level to fight in. It also helped to redefine Twisted Metal from some type of cartoon-like shooter game on the PS1 to a realistic vehicular death match on the PS3. In the early games of the series, the missiles and other powerups were sprite-like designs with some missiles appearing even larger then the vehicle they were launched from. In Twisted Metal (2012), the missiles are realistically proportioned to the vehicle they are launched from.
The sound effects of the game are pretty good. If you drive through a glass door or window, you will hear the sound of a large pane of glass shattering. Destroying the supports for a water tower will release the tell-tall groan of steel bending a buckling. While the developers have managed to get down the sound effects of shooting guns, launching missiles, and using a flamethrower, the only thing that they seem to have forgotten about all the pedestrians that they left in the game. There are many pedestrians to run over in Twisted Metal, but they all scream the same few sound effects when you hit them. This is something that could have been improved.
The soundtrack includes many licensed songs including “Raise the Flag” by Airbourne, and “Heavy Metal” & “I Can’t Drive 55” by Sammy Hagar. The developers have managed to get the perfect songs for vehicular manslaughter. I don’t know about you, but I love it when a Team Hunted match starts and “Raise the Flag” begins as well. It makes hunting for that one opponent all the more fun. What I would have liked to implement was the ability to upload your own songs to the mix, in order to add some variety.
The only technical problem that I had with the single player was the horrendous AI. Most of the time I felt that I had a giant invisible bulls-eye over my vehicle (…perhaps I was played offline Hunted…) due to how all the enemies would always home in on me. In earlier twisted metals, the enemies at least tried to attack each other. Here, they hardly even do that. As for the multiplayer, the major concern that I have (as well as the tens of thousands who bought that game) was the online connectivity issues. While the issues have been addressed and have gradually improved over the last week, the problems themselves should not exist.
Unlike a lot of other PS3 games that you can easily platinum in a weekend, to get the platinum for Twisted Metal will require a lot of time and effort. To put it into perspective, you cannot even get the platinum unless you win an online ranked match every day in a row for at least30 days. There are even trophies that may take longer than that to get. Some of the more tedious trophies include: killing a player online within 5 seconds of spawning, getting 100 kills with each of the six types of missiles, 50 kills with each car in online ranked matches, 10 wins of each type of game, and 10 wins on each battleground.
That is not to say that it will be boring to get the platinum. If you seriously love killing and destroying your opponents in as many ways possible, then you are not even going to notice the time pass as you kill hundreds, perhaps even thousands of opponents.
Twisted Metal is a great game that keeps the traditions and features handed down through the series alive without sacrificing much of anything. The developers spent several years improving on what we know and love. The inclusion of live-action single player movies and clips in the single player stories were a great addition and allows the gamer to see what your would characters actually look like if they were real (which is both awesome and terrifying.) Ignoring the various technical bugs and glitches that have plagued the online feature since the release; this is a game that anyone who loves both driving and destruction should get.
Solid gameplay with barely any noticeable gameplay glitches or bugs. The various vehicles are balanced with special attacks that have their strengths and weaknesses. A vehicle with a ton of armor will also be among the slowest cars.
A great storyline due to the inclusion of live-action cutscenes to facilitate the immersion of the gamer into the storyline. Calypso's narration before each of the levels was also a nice touch, especially the level where he drifts off and starts talking about a favorite word. The only downsides were the short length of the campaign, the limited number of characters, and the enemy AI.
The multiplayer is where the game truly shines. Take note that I am not including the connection issues into this score. It only represents the multiplayer gameplay and nothing else. The numerous types of games available to compete in, the ranking system, and the balanced gameplay makes the multiplayer the highlight of the game.
The sound effects, music, and graphics of Twisted Metal are top-notch. The multiplayer connection issues is the only thing that dragged this score down.
Overall: 9.0/10 Brilliant