Twisted Metal (PS3)
The first Twisted Metal game was originally released on the first PlayStation way back in 1995. Spin forward seven sequels and 17 years later and the latest version of the series, also just called Twisted Metal, releases this week. Developed by Eat Sleep Play and published by Sony Computer Entertainment this latest version of Twisted Metal brings us a new level of vehicular combat, carnage and destruction.
Although it shares a common name with the previous versions of the game this latest edition of Twisted Metal shares very little other heritage with those games. It is set in a different universe to the previous games. A couple of the characters previously seen recur, such as the main race organiser and villain Calypso but the story of the game is based around three very disturbed individuals as they attempt to progress through each of Calypso's races in an attempt to win the chance to have a single wish granted.
To say that Twisted Metal is a dark and disturbing game would be somewhat of an understatement. For instance the first player we take on the role of is a lovely chap called Sweet Tooth, a muscle bound psychopathic serial killer who dresses in a clown mask and has a shaved head which is always on fire. Sweet Tooth's wish is to find the only victim who escaped from him, his daughter, on the night he slaughtered his family.
Each of the tales we follow has similar dark overtones, and when we successfully complete each story the granted wish is not quite what our character wanted. However that tends to happen when you make a deal with Calypso.
Twisted Metal features two main types of game play, a single player story mode and a multiplayer online mode. For the single player story mode we take on the persona of three different individuals Sweet Tooth, Mr Grimm and Dollface. Each of the players has their own introduction cut scene, as well as additional cut scenes as we play through the challenges. Each of the stories has a number of race challenges to complete before facing a final boss type challenge. When we defeat the boss we are treated to a final cut scene showing the outcome of the wish fulfilment, which is always granted in a very ironic and generally unpleasant way.
The types of challenges offered in the single player mode include standard racing as well as demolition derby style where the last player surviving wins. A number of variations on these are available, for instance in one demolition derby we have to move around a version of New York City staying within a defined cube otherwise our vehicle losses health and will eventually explode.
There are number of vehicles available, ranging from very quick bikes and cars with light armour through to slow trucks and vans with heavy armour. As we progress through the story mode new vehicles are unlocked and made available to us.
Each of the vehicle types has a standard weapon, which is constantly available for use but causes low damage to opponents as well as a special weapon which is on a recharge timer as it causes much larger damage. The special weapons are appropriate to the vehicle, for example the tow truck picks up a car and can sling it into our opponents. Additional weapon charges and missiles are available throughout the play area and these can be picked up by driving over them.
For each race we are able to select three vehicles that we can swap out at any time by visiting our garage. While the vehicle is in a garage it slowly replenishes health, meaning that if we get close to death we can swap out vehicles and by time we need to swap back our original health should have recovered. Not all tracks have garages however, in those cases we need to find either a health cube or one of Calypso's roaming health trucks. By driving onto one of these our vehicles health will be restored.
We found that the driving in Twisted Metal is very much in the arcade style and not real life style driving. It does fit perfectly into the extreme style of the game; however driving purists might not be best please by some of the moves that can be pulled off.
The other main game play style in Twisted Metal is multiplayer online. To access this we need to have a PlayStation Network Pass code, which is normally included in retail boxed version of the game however our review copy didn't include one.
Graphics and Audio
The graphics in Twisted Metal are good, though very stylised. The near future world in which Twisted Metal takes place in is in some ways very similar to our own and very different in others. The landscapes in which the events take place range from a familiar looking American any town, to a crazy custom built arena where whole levels move up or down and burst into flames.
The vehicles are well rendered and look very mean, which given their intended purpose... to end lives, is quite appropriate. The movement of the vehicles is nice and smooth, although the arcade style action doesn't really lend itself to any close inspection of real world physics being applied.
Some of the arenas feature destructible content, such as buildings and people and while mowing down random civilians isn't exactly our cup of tea, if they happen to be in our way and we have the shot on our enemy we are going to take it.
Finally on the graphics front our cut scenes are a mixture of animation and full motion video. Given the subject of the scenes some are quite disturbing and, as expected, there is plenty of blood splattered around to satisfy gore fans.
Twisted Metal features a solid sound track including the usual mix heavy rock, death metal and hip hop that suits this type of game. While never outstanding we didn't feel the need to switch the sound down at any point, though none of the tracks ever made us want to turn the sound up either.
As well as the sound track Twisted Metal features audio queues to highlight special features that become available on your vehicle, like our special weapon, or when we are close to death. This voice over is done in the usual deep gravitas that we have come to expect from first person shooter type games.
We found the solo play experience in Twisted Metal to be acceptable, without ever being outstanding. The stories are somewhat formulaic and once we saw one ending we could tell that the others would be fairly similar. Having said that, if gamers manage to play through to the end of the solo player game there is a nice couple of cut scenes that offer a surprise.
Ultimately Twisted Metal is a game that tries to sit astride two massive genres, racing and first person shooters. From a pure racing perspective it offers a fun experience and for first person shooter fans Twisted Metal certainly offers a reasonable distraction and a fair amount of blood soaked mayhem to be enjoyed.