Twisted Metal is something of a niche product here in Europe; the concept is very much a product of America. However, that isn’t to say anything about the game, more about the different mind-set from the US to the EU. When the original Twisted Metal was released it was something very different, it offered something that no game had previously. A death match concept with vehicles instead of people, but above it all it was fun.
Blood and gore has always been a key point of Twisted Metal and this game has it in abundance.
The reason I am taking you down memory lane here, is that that old Twisted Metal is dead! There is no two ways about it, this Twisted Metal is more along the lines of the PS2 entry Twisted Metal Black than the likes of the original game or World Tour. Twisted Metal 2012 offers something that is both tuned to another audience type than that of the original game series but also more in line with the current world of gaming. Blood and gore has always been a key point of Twisted Metal and this game has it in abundance, perhaps more than a certain shooter series that hits the headlines often. However, this is not a negative statement, the world has changed and so Twisted Metal needs to move to a new audience type.
For those new to the series, (after all it has been 11 years since the last console version) Twisted Metal revolves around a tournament of vehicular combat where combatants battle to win a single wish. The tournament is hosted by the eccentric mogul Calypso, inviting the brave, the bold, the good and the evil to compete in a fight to the death to achieve that their heart desires.
The biggest change to the established format of Twisted Metal is that the game’s story is now only based on three characters: Sweet Tooth, Doll Face and Mr. Grimm. These characters play out their stories in a similar fashion to games of old, where you have to compete in the events within the game to progress, with each win moving you further into the story. This focus on three separate characters feels much better than the individual stories told in the classic games. The narrower and tighter focus means that the stories have been fleshed out to the point that they hooked my interest and drove me to the ‘just one more match’ kind of mentality that is normally reserved for when I play RPGs. However, that isn’t to say that the stories don’t suffer. There are some very strange plot holes within them, which offer some head scratching moments. But overall, the stories are strong and offer an arguably stronger experience over that of previous games.
The gameplay focuses on the aforementioned vehicular combat, but unlike previous games there is a new twist to this particular metal. The game modes from the past have been moved around and juggled, this means that while we still have the death match modes from the previous instalments we also have some new and some slightly tweaked versions of what we know.
A new addition is the world of racing to the game. Of course this still has the Twisted Metal flavour of kill all cars, but racing is surprisingly well handled. The basic rules involve a shuttle race from one end of a track to the other and back again. In true Twisted Metal style you can shoot and machine gun your opponents as much as you wish during the race, however the real twist is when you hit the end of the first section of the shuttle race. When you reach the end you are given a bomb activation key, this key sets off a bomb that is attached to every other car in the race. This now makes the return run and matter of survival. As long as you are first you are safe, if you’re a close second well… there are no second places in Twisted Metal.
Twisted Metal has boss battle matches beforehand, but now they are handled slightly differently, for instance; about halfway through Sweet Tooth’s campaign you have a half time boss fight. In this fight you have to take down Juggernaut, who is a haulage truck loaded with defensive weapons and the ability to spawn new opponents to battle against at set time intervals. This different take adds some more tactical play to the rampant carnage as you need to think about the other opponents before attempting an assault on the weaponized truck as you only have one chance at the level.
This is another change, instead of having a certain amount of lives to burn through, in the new Twisted Metal you are given one. However, in selected maps and game modes you are given the option to swap your car out for a new model. At the beginning of each of these levels you are presented with a selection screen allowing you to pick three machines of death to take into battle. Once inside the match you’ll find some garages. These garages offer you a place to swap your current vehicle for one of your selected pack. There is also a nice trick here, as once you have loaded a damaged car into the garage it is slowly repaired. This isn’t to say that it is easy to get into a garage, (which are marked on your mini-map which is located at the top right of your HUD) your opponents really don’t want you to get in there, in fact they work very hard to make sure you don’t.
This leads on to another aspect of the game, Twisted Metal has been made even more difficult! There are three difficulties – Normal, Hard and Twisted. Even on the Normal setting things are pretty hard. The AI will try its hardest to kill you in every way it can. This will vary from knocking you off cliffs to outright blowing you up. On the higher difficulties things are even more difficult; however nothing matches up to the power of the Multiplayer.
The Multiplayer in Twisted Metal takes on three flavours: Co-Op campaign, Split-Screen and Online. The first mode is an obvious one, which allows you and a friend to play through the campaign stories co-operatively. The other two are split into three game modes: Death Match, Last Man Standing and Hunted. Death Match is your normal kill or be killed concept, it can be played in either Team or Free-for-All modes, much the same applies to the world of Last Man Standing, the only difference being that it is a fight to the death with a limited amount of lives per player. Hunted selects a particular player as the target and sets the others on them, very much in the vein of Golden Gun mode in James Bond. The big new mode though is Nuke; this mode is a category by itself. The basic idea is that each team has a statue of their leader to defend, and each team takes it in turns to defend and attack each statue. To be able to attack the other team’s statue you need to collect their leader from one of the gunner points, take it to a grinding machine and sacrifice it by launching a nuclear missile. This is actually the best mode in the game and great fun to play if you have a team that works well together.
For those with a Sweet Tooth for action, this is your candy.
Something that I have stayed away from in this review so far is how the new Twisted Metal looks. There is a reason for this and it is the fact that the game mixes normal CGI graphics with real cutscenes. While it does offer a very stylised view, it also jars slightly with the world that Eat, Sleep, Play have created. The live shot cutscenes look impressive, but when you are confronted at the title screen by a CGI version of Sweet Tooth who’s detail is remarkable to say the least, then you have to wonder why that direction was taken.
The updated version of Twisted Metal is something that might split people, especially fans. However, there is no doubting that the series needed to be updated for a new generation. Whether that update is a successful one only time will tell. For those with a Sweet Tooth for action, this is your candy, long term fans however, may find the changes disconcerting.
Rating: ExcellentReview Policy(version tested: PS3)
You can order Twisted Metal from ShopTo here.