When the original Twisted Metal was released in November of 1995, I was 10, and just about to enter junior high. That whole next year, a small group of friends and I spent far too much time on the couch, chasing each other down and giggling as we took one another out with missile. Now,over sixteen years later, somethings have become very evident — I’ve grown up, but Twisted Metal has not.
But perhaps, that’s not an entirely bad thing. It may seem juvenile and a bit of the mechanics seem dated, but there’s something that’s got to be said for a game that’s as fun as ever, and refuses to change — even as the industry around it demands maturity.
A bit of a primer first for those who may have missed the franchise’s previous iterations, Twisted Metal revolves around you being placed in badass vehicles, armed with bad ass weapons and tasks you with taking them out at any cost. It’s all part of one crazy man, known as Calypso, and his deadly tournament where the winner gets any one wish granted.
This tournament is a bit different though, as unlike previous games, with a huge number of playable characters, here, we’ve only got three, Sweet Tooth, Mr. Grimm, and Doll Face. While that may seem a bit limiting, each of the three characters comes with their own gang of followers, but most importantly has the ability to drive any of the game’s vehicles. So yes, Mr. Grimm can drive Sweet tooth’s trademarked ice cream truck.
The three character campaign offers a big change to the game’s single player format. Each of the three characters gets a chapter and leads up to a boss fight (not to mention some questionable live action cut scenes) that offer a wide range of difficulty. If it sounds like the single player game is short, that’s because it is, and you’ll more than likely finish it in one sitting. One has to wonder why the developers didn’t include more characters and a longer campaign.
Does it really matter though? Who’s really buying Twisted Metal for the single player? No, you’re paying for the mutliplayer, be it online or on the couch, and I’m glad to say that Twisted Metal still feels exactly like it should, and is a blast to play with freinds. The action is frantic, the weapons are fun and there are plenty of moments where you’re going to get some serious trash talking with your pals. There’s always a mad rush to get some of each of the powerups scattered throughout the maps.
But is Twisted Metal too stuck in its ways for its own good? The game drips with 90s gaming charm — so much so that it may turn some gamers off. The controls for instance are very arcade-like and save for a few different ratings and weaponry, the cars are predominately the same. Those different weapons though are a big part of what makes Twisted Metal so much fun in the first place. Special weaponry ranges from everything from sniper riffles with long lock-ons, to exploding grannies on stretchers (no, really), and are a blast to use. Most Twisted Metal matches start off incredibly hectic, but towards the end, the novelty of this starts to wear off, and the game actually starts to rely on actual skill to win matches
Visually, Twisted Metal feels like a lot more than a cleaned up version of the classic, as the game takes on a bit of a comic book look, but the most impressive part is that even with all of the weapons going off and the buildingings crumbling, Twisted Metal holds up pretty impressively and doesn’t fall victim to some of the same slowdown issues that other games like it have. You can’t deny just how cool it looks to narrowly escape a missile as it takes out a building behind you.
The Blast Factor: It may seem a little dated, and the packaging may be a bit thin (it doesn’t hurt that you’ll get a free copy of Twisted Metal Black), but it still retains the same off the wall, in your face high octane fun that the series is known for. Fans of the franchise, and fans of fun gaming in general will want to get behind the wheel of Sweet Tooth’s truck.