Twisted Metal PS3 Review

Publisher – Sony Computer Entertainment Europe – Developer – Eat Sleep Play – Genre – Action – Players – 1-16 – Age Rating – 18+ – Other console/handheld formats – N/A

Twisted Metal is currently the oldest franchise that is exclusive to the PlayStation brand that is still running to this day. The series’ first instalment was released way back in 1995 on the original PlayStation, which has been followed by numerous sequels over the years. Despite the simple title, the newest instalment is a fresh game and is in no way a remake.

The genesis of this Twisted Metal game was actually a targeted PlayStation Network release, although Sony saw the potential for a full retail release, resulting in developer Eat Sleep Play putting more work into the game to turn it into such a physical release. There’s a full single player mode, and, if you enjoy blowing friends, siblings or complete strangers up, there’s plenty of ways to do so in multiplayer.

The single player mode sees you taking control of the psychotic clown Sweet Tooth, the stuntman Mr. Grim, and the model Doll Face. The story is told through well acted live action cut-scenes, and it’s as dark and twisted as fans have come to expect from the series.  The cut-scenes look quite stylish and really fit the dark nature, and the plot is decent enough for what it is.

The single player mode throws various events at you: some will simply have you blowing all your opponents up, while others will task you with destroying the massive juggernauts in order to put a stop to the non-stop glut of spawning opponents, and there’s also stages that require you to stay inside a cage that moves around the arena from time to time. There’s also some memorable boss encounters at the end of each of the three chapters, and you may find your vehicle flung around quite a lot during these David vs. Goliath-like battles.

The controls have a pretty steep learning curve – the first stop should definitely be the tutorial if you want to get some sort of grip on how everything works. The DualShock controller certainly isn’t wasted here, with almost every single button being employed in one fashion or another. Weapon cycling, braking, tight turns, shields, mines, jumping, boosting and firing – you’ll really have to invest your time into the game to become confident with it all. Perhaps the controls are even more complex than they need be for what is actually a very simple arcade-style concept, although it’s definitely worth sticking with the game.

Each of the vehicles have their own special weapons. Unlike the rest of the weapons (rockets, shotguns, sniper rifles, etc), the specials recharge after each use, and most of the vehicles also have alternative specials: the Kamikaze has a flame thrower and a shock freeze and the Reaper motorcycle has a chainsaw and RPG for example.

There are only four characters to choose from in all, although there’s a lot of vehicles in there, and it’s the vehicles that are the real characters of any Twisted Metal game. Each vehicle has its own strengths and weaknesses, with some perhaps being fast but lacking in armour and vice versa.  Many of the single player events allow you to choose three vehicles, and you can then drive into a garage to switch between them, with your previous vehicle being repaired over time.

Twisted Metal also has a very good set of multiplayer options. The game has support for 2-4 player split screen as well as online modes for up to 16 players. The storyline mode can be played cooperatively with another player in split screen, while the other modes can be filled up with bots if only two of you are playing locally. Multiplayer modes include typical Deathmatches (a team-based variation is also an option), Last Man Standing (two lives for each player, then it’s all over), Hunted and Team Hunted (a player is chosen and then you score points by destroying him or her, becoming the hunted yourself, and kills wracked up by the hunted also get added to their score), and then there’s Nuke. The Nuke mode cycles through attack and defend phases for each team: when you are on the attack you are tasked with capturing the enemy leaders, taking them to the launchers and then sacrificing them to fire off a missile towards an enemy statue, and the defence phase obviously has you attempting to stop your opponents from destroying your own statue. It’s an amusing and enjoyable mode, and definitely the most unique thing in the game. Staying with multiplayer, I’ve got to wonder why there’s no option for multiplayer races or cage matches? The absence of such modes is shocking, the inclusion of such modes would certainly have helped bump the rather modest amount of options up.

Online, the game is suffering from occasional connection issues at the time of writing, although in my experience I found it largely smooth when playing in actual matches. You’ll level up over time and unlock more content, and it’s even possible to play in split screen with others online.

Twisted Metal’s visuals do the job, but nothing more. The game has a rather bland look to it, although when there’s explosions and other chaos going on, it remains smooth at all times. Those who expected true high quality visuals will just have to settle for a rather dated look.

Twisted Metal is the sort of chaotic vehicle combat fun that we rarely see today. The game may be a little limited in its options, over complex in its controls, and needs some of its other wrinkles ironed out, although the return of the series is still a welcome one, and certainly a highly explosive comeback.