Twisted Metal, the rip-and-roar driving franchise published by Sony, first hit shelves back in 1995, as an exclusive for the PlayStation console. Since then, a veritable traffic jam of sequels have appeared, including Twisted Metal 2, 3, 4, and Twisted Metal: Black. The latest in the series is titled simply Twisted Metal, and it arrives this week on the PlayStation 3, in high-gloss HD.
The game features the recurring characters Sweet Tooth and Calypso, along with the usual litany of armored trucks, explosives, and Really Big Guns. (Seat belts suggested.) So how does Twisted Metal stack up? Let's go to the scorecards.
The plot (so to speak)
"The story is told through the perspectives of three characters – Sweet Tooth, Grimm and Doll Face – entered in the Twisted Metal tournament run by mastermind Calypso," writes Brett Molina of USA Today. "If they win, they're granted any prize they choose. In the case of clown-faced serial killer Sweet Tooth, for example, it's to find the one victim that escaped his grasp. Although the story elements are very loosely tied to the game overall, they do offer this sinister backdrop with short tales that play out like an episode of The Twilight Zone."
"The game is all about the cars, which are no longer locked to a specific driver," writes Jason D'Aprile of G4 TV. "Players can choose three different vehicles in most matches, which can be swapped out in the garage found on each map. Since cars don’t automatically regenerate health, the game can become a race to either find health power-ups or get to the garage before exploding. Each vehicle has its own signature move, which recharges after use, and a pre-selected main gun. Beyond that, it’s a free-for-all to pick up weapon power-ups."
"While there are some unique additions [to previous Twisted Metal games], the core controls are still as slippery and loose as ever," writes Sebastian Haley of VentureBeat. "You can even turn 360 degrees without hitting the gas, so don’t expect any level of realism here. At the same time, the gameplay was in need of tune-up and could really have used some tightening up, especially in terms of weight distribution. Even the heaviest vehicles can be flung into the air with little effort…and sometimes with no effort at all; Twisted Metal sports some of the worst game physics to date, and at times it’s downright game-breaking."
"Maps are large and expansive, there's a ton of destruction, and there's just a lot more to see and do in each area than ever before," writes Al McCarthy of Attack of the Fanboy. "Environments range from rural settings, suburban locales, and even a stadium that changes landscapes on the fly with traps at every turn. With each map being quite large there are plenty of nooks and crannies to explore, giving you ample opportunity to find those perfect getaway spots or places to corner your competition."
"Competitors act less like opponents and more like the Illuminati, a cadre of conspirators who seem to have had a huddle before every match, deciding that the player needs to die in the most annoying and unfair way possible," writes David Hinkle of Joystiq. "Being the target of everything becomes taxing far too early in the game. It's hard to find the constitution to keep playing when you're constantly being frozen and bombarded with rockets. You have no idea how many times I dropped the controller in frustration and had to walk away just to cool down, something I never do."
"The multiplayer is pure Twisted Metal," writes Game Informer's Dan Ryckert. "Deathmatch modes place you in one of the game’s numerous massive maps, and it doesn’t take long for things to turn into an all-out warzone. Nuke mode is chaotic and entertaining, with two teams capturing their enemy’s leader and launching him or her at a massive effigy of the opposing team. Hunted and Last Man Standing are also fun, but can’t compete with the insanity of Nuke. Gamers irked by the 'die five seconds after you spawn' experience from titles like Call of Duty should enjoy the longer lifespans of Twisted Metal’s online play."
The parting shot
"I think that the game could have been truly superb had less effort gone into the failed aspects and more been poured into the type of Twisted Metal that fans know and love," writes Jim Sterling of Destructoid. "For all its shortcomings and lack of depth, however, there really is no other car combat game that has the goods quite like Twisted Metal. It's a solid entry in a series that's difficult to hate, and hardcore destruction fans would do well to pick it up."