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Twisted Metal Review

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On 02/21/2012 at 12:00 PM by Jesse Miller

New hardware, new ideas -- is that too much to ask?

For fans of the series only. Those who enjoyed the demo should probably wait for a price drop before picking this one up.

Playing Twisted Metal is a lot like going to your ten year high school reunion.  Sure it’s great to hang out with old friends, bask in nostalgia and relive some of the good ole days but at the end of it all you go home and thank god that you aren’t in high school anymore; that you’re not wearing the same clothes, that you aren’t living with your parents and that you aren’t as stupid as you were back then. But then again there are those like Twisted Metal that peaked in high school and would give anything to go back.

I don’t mean to sound harsh.  The Twisted Metal titles are the source of some of my fondest gaming moments of yesteryear, but time has not been particularly kind to this car combat franchise.  There have been many advancements in gaming since Sweet Tooth last took the wheel.  What should have been a golden opportunity to introduce an old stalward to a new generation was instead a practice of ‘more of the same’ – a course of action that may have worked a decade ago, but falls flat in today’s gaming landscape.

Getting behind the wheel again for series veterans will be as familiar as riding a bike.  The arcade heavy controls are near exactly the same as they were ten years ago.  Steering is simple, breaking is effective and the quick turn still allows you to change directions as if you were on a lazy Susan from hell.  A game as over-the-top as Twisted Metal has never really had much use for an accurate physics engine and this newest edition proves to be no exception. Your car will be launched into the air as inconsistently as ever, whether from a slight bump or a pummeling of missiles from all sides.

And you will get pummeled by missiles since all of your opponents seemingly only have eyes for you.  It is understandable that as the human player you’ll garner more attention than the odd pc bot, but when you’re the recipient of five sniper bullets from five different opponents at the same time (this seriously happened to me) you’ll begin to wonder if there is indeed a conspiracy against you.

An added wrinkle is the ability to switch vehicles in a garage. At the beginning of each stage you’ll be allowed to select three different vehicles from your stable. Some players may elect to ride it out in a single car, but for those so inclined you can switch out your ride mid event at a garage.  As an added bonus, garaged cars will slowly regain health as long as they remain there. This gives the player some additional freedom to adapt to the battlefield as necessary and can be a much needed lifeline when health begins to run low.

Taking advantage of the PlayStation 3’s hardware, the game’s maps are absolutely huge and nearly completely destructible. The havoc wrought on a previously idyllic suburban neighborhood will render it practically unrecognizable in just a few short minutes of play.  Each map is highly explorable and contains a plethora of hidden goodies.  Familiarizing yourself with these maps will prove to be a chore at first, but is completely necessary if you want to dominate online matches with other players.

The new story mode plays a surprisingly important role this time around. In the past, you would take each driver through a series of events to see their path. It wasn’t much, but it offered some nice variety that made it worth seeing through for all characters. This has been replaced by a singular story mode that takes you through arcs on three different characters: Sweet Tooth, Mr. Grimm and Dollface. 

The decision to go with a more intricate story mode actually shoehorns the player into experiencing the game in a very specific way, rather than letting them take the path that interests them most. It also removes one of the best things Twisted Metal had going for it: the colorful cast of characters. And if the story isn’t your thing then too bad – it’s a must-play in order to unlock all the game’s vehicles and weapons.

Another new addition that misses the mark is the inclusion of races. I’m sure the sentiment here was to introduce some more variety to the game, but the chaotic nature within the Twisted Metal formula ensures that this mode fails in maddening fashion.  Playing a race in Twisted Metal is like playing a round of 150cc Mario Kart in which every other character has an ample supply of red and blue turtle shells. If you are unable to secure the lead early you may as well start from the beginning.  Other racers have no interest in actually winning; they just want to make your life a living hell and will at times go out of their way to ensure that you don’t win. This would be fine if that was the point, but in theory the other racers have a seated interested in coming in first, not just ensuring that you lose.  These segments were the source of most of my frustration during story mode and I had to take more than one break in order to keep myself from popping my disc in the microwave for a couple minutes.

This is not to say that Twisted Metal is not a worthwhile experience. When played online with friends or strangers it’s easy to remember why you fell in love with the franchise in the first place. Getting into a game lobby is pretty simple and intuitive and the game runs at a smooth clip. You could easily waste hours and hours playing multiplayer; thoughts of unbalanced AI melting away, because if you do find yourself on the receiving end of five sniper bullets in a row, they really are out to get you.

If Twisted Metal was developed as a downloadable online multiplayer game I would be much more fond of it, but its current incarnation leaves much to be desired. Old fans of the series that just want to relive the glory days will find ample value in the game’s online offerings, but those looking for the series to evolve or who never heard of Sweet Tooth until recently best wait for a price drop or better yet play the demo first.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:

All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.

These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.

This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.

Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.

Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.

A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.




02/21/2012 at 01:20 PM

There's obviously quite a number of downsides to the game, but it seems to be really strong in the aspects where it needs to be, multiplayer and level design. I love that the maps are huge and so destructible, I bet those parts are a load of fun. I played quite a bit of TM back in the day but to be honest I had much more fun playing Battletanx and Battletanx Global Assault for N64. Battletanx wasn't nearly as fast paced, diverse, or popular, but I had the most fun with that series and the most nostalgia for it by far. Nuking entire maps never got old, and I loved setting up sentries and defending stuff. Plus there were awesome missles in Battletanx that you could fire, watch them fly, and control where they went. There were a lot of great weapons, levels, and strategies you could play in those games.

Jesse Miller Staff Writer

02/21/2012 at 01:26 PM

You're exactly right.  The game is strong where it counts, but for $60 just having a good multiplayer mode isn't enough.  I have been a big fan of this series since the beginning, but it isn't converting anyone with this long awaited rendition.


02/21/2012 at 01:41 PM

I agree. They were trying to be "true" to the older games and capture that feel and nostalgia, but, if I wanted to play a game exactly like the old TM games I could just go play the old TM games. It's 2012, times have changed wildly and there were a lot of different routes they could've taken to try and give a 2012 audience a contemporary take on the franchise. They could've just done an HD remaster of one or some of the older TM games and put that out at a lower price. Or they could've done as you said, and make this new TM a downloadable online mutliplayer game that would've made sense, but instead they went for an entirely "new" full $60 release.

I played TF2 in the Orange Box which was $60 for a bundle of 5 full games on one disc back when it hit shelves, and right now TF2 is free-to-play on Steam. I love Team Fortress 2, it's my favorite online multiplayer game ever, but I wouldn't pay $60 for it. Same goes for Twisted Metal. I don't think a good multiplayer mode cuts the mustard, not for $60. It's yet another time where the AAA model has reared its ugly head.

Patrick Kijek Contributing Writer

02/22/2012 at 01:40 AM

Yet there are people who pay 60 for Call of Duty Multiplayer every year :)


02/22/2012 at 11:37 AM

Well I wouldn't pay $60 for it Patrick and I wasn't trying to speak for the millions of people that buy CoD. The kind of sales CoD gets aren't indicative of how things go in the rest of the industry. It's been the hot thing for a while now, and it just happens, like Twilight movies. CoD is a phenomenon and I can't find many ways to explain it other than it's giving a large amount of people what they want, doing it pretty well, and it's one of those few franchises that is absolutely banking in successfully on the ridiculous AAA model. Not only banking in on the model, but it's the most lucrative in entertainment history.

It just exploded like World of Warcraft and before you knew it everybody and their family was playing it and it was gathering millions of consumers to it. Twisted Metal isn't even in the same ball park. TM uses the AAA model but it doesn't have whatever it takes to make a game a phenomenon. I wouldn't pay $60 for CoD multiplayer, Halo Multiplayer, Starcraft II multiplayer, Team Fortress 2, or any other popular multiplayer component. People pay full price basically just for CoD multiplayer only, and they can get near unlimited replayability out of it. Fans come back to buy every new Zelda when it comes out, and even though I love Zelda and buy them those games are hardly diverse, and the experience lasts around 25 hours.

These are just random facts and I'm not trying to connect any dots or make any point, it just is what it is. I would be a terrible businessman, I can't make sense of sales and marketing and everything else.

Our Take

Esteban Cuevas Staff Alumnus

02/22/2012 at 04:15 AM

Very surprising verdict. I didn't know the story mode was going to be done the way it was. That's very disappointing as I love the characters the series has. Axel, Thumper, Minion, they're all great but missing from this entry it seems. Not that they were the same person each game but I enjoyed them. I still want to try this game out but this already feels like a disappointment.

Angelo Grant Staff Writer

02/22/2012 at 11:59 AM

I'm disappointed too.  My brother and I played Twisted Metal 2 to death as kids, and, while I wasn't going to pick this one up, I was anticipating a comeback for the series. 

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