The Average Gamer

Twisted Metal Review (PS3)

Nostalgia’s a wonderful thing, ain’t it? It’s been big business for a plethora of media in the past decade or so. From movie remakes like Titanic 3D and Clash of the Titans to video games like Resident Evil and Sonic Generations, the general consensus seems to be that things are better when they’re redone using the technology of today. It gives those who have fond memories of ‘how it used to be’ a chance to relive the experience again. Well, that’s not always a good thing.

It’s with this same nostalgia that got me so excited when I heard that there was a new instalment of Twisted Metal (simply called, erm, Twisted Metal) on its way. It’s a series I remember fondly as one of those games that shaped my gaming of today, just like Mario, Link or Sonic. My vice however, was a lot less wholesome. I enjoyed blowing other cars up and being the last man standing, relishing in the fact that the age certificate on the front of the box was a good 5 years away than I actually was. When it arrived I was looking forward to seeing if those reasons that I loved the earlier games in series still remained.

Other like-minded people rejoice, for the recognisable elements that made the Twisted Metal all that it was are still very much present in its latest incarnation. The maniacal serial killer clown ‘Sweet-Tooth’ heads up proceedings as the game’s figurehead in his trademark ice cream van while the even-more-insane-if-that’s-possible Calypso resides over his Twisted Metal creation from the top floor of a skyscraper.

Developers Eat Sleep Play have obviously paid attention to what has come before. Even down to many of the characters and vehicles from the other games (especially the ones I remember) making appearance such as Shadow and Axel, the latter being that dude suspended between two huge rubber tyres and was bloody awful at doing anything else but exploding.

So what”s new, eh?

The premise (in the majority) is still the same as it ever was – destroy the other vehicles by any means necessary using the many weapons you can pick up as you drive around the track causing as much havoc as humanly possible. Twisted Metal is by no means a remake, even though up to this point it certainly feels like one. How the creators have tried to inject a 2012 feel into the action is to add a stronger narrative and a back story to the playable characters.

You begin as Sweet Tooth, then onto mad biker Mr. Grimm and Darkside. The cutscenes are shot on actual film with graphics added making them look more like movies, a nice touch. The thing is with these additions, I didn’t really care about how my character came to be an axe murdering mentalist, just how good his car was at shooting things.

Level design is as bombastic as ever. The combat is as fun as it always had been in previous titles, which for me is the most important feature. The destroyable level environments have How Much Does it Cost for Trucking School? Truck defensive driving online can be an exciting. taken on a whole new meaning in Twisted Metal. One urban map can be almost levelled to the ground as you smash your away around it, adding to the fun immensely. The weapons have their classic elements like the homing missile and napalm to the more modern versions like the sniper rifle. Each vehicle has its own special weapon which, where applicable, has stayed true to form. That form being as mad as a box of frogs.

As you all race to be the last one alive, the action in Twisted Metal can be absolutely mental at times. I would’ve expected some frame rate issues, but nothing really hampered the experience. This could be due in part to the graphics as they’re not as, shall we say, refined as other games in the category. If you cast your mind back to vehicular combat titles of yesterday (Vigilante 78, Carmageddon et al), how it looked would always play second fiddle to how it played. That is none more evident than in Twisted Metal. It’s a no-frills fragtacular killing experience, which does take a bit of getting used to when compared to the games of today with their flashy menu and lens flare motion blur jiggery pokery.

What staggered me about Twisted Metal is the difficulty level. The default setting is ‘Normal’ then to ‘Hard’ and finally ‘Twisted’. I found the going tough even on the normal setting, never mind anything else. This would lead to countless cheap deaths and frustrating rage quits as I struggled to get to grips with the fiddly controls, almost giving up at points. Also, the soundtrack leaves a lot to be desired if you’re not a huge Sammy Hagar fan. Which I’m not.

And The Multiplayer?

A significant portion of Twisted Metal is devoted to the online experience. This was a feature I’d longed to see more prominent in games of old and am pleased to say it’s very much a focus here. What could be more fun than duelling with faceless online populace to the death, or challenging your friends (and their wits) to a frag fest on top of a mountain? However, in reality the online experience of Twisted Metal leaves me a little underwhelmed for the simple reason that half the time it doesn’t even work. There were times I waited 20 minutes before locating another person in the lobby, only to be kicked out just before the level loaded. So frustrating considering that we also have to contend with the pre-owned minefield that is PSN’s online pass system present here.

Eat Sleep Play have assured users that these online bugs will be fixed, but at the time of writing this these issues are still a bugbear of the online experience. On the rare occasion that I got online with others, the action is frenetic and satisfying so I’ll be looking forward to when it’s fully fixed to experience such features as the different game modes and the clan based combat that Twisted Metal likes to brag about.

If you’re a fan of the Twisted Metal series, then this latest instalment with it’s nods to the past and glimpses of the future is a worthy addition to your collection. If you’ve never played anything like this and are used to the online refinement of your Gears of War and COD’s, then it’s ‘rough around the edges’ approach may grate on you with time. That said, I don’t think anyone will doubt Twisted Metal’s uncanny ability to have you coming back for more.

Twisted Metal is out now on PS3.

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