Review: Twisted Metal

The first Twisted Metal game for this current generation of consoles is out.  Is it as good as the previous installments in the series?  Unfortunately it is not.

The main single player campaign for this Twisted Metal is broken into three parts, one for each of the main characters.  You go through the story as Sweet Tooth, Mr. Grimm and finally Dollface. They are each competing in the Twisted Metal competition to attain the prize of whatever their hearts most desire.  The story is told through live action cut scenes.  These cut scenes are very dark with rather cheesy special effects added.  They are all very gloomy and even though Twisted Metal is not a cheery game they just don’t seem to fit.

For those who have never played a Twisted Metal game before it is all about car combat.  You chose a vehicle to drive with weapons mounted to it that you can fire at your opponents.  You are then put into an arena to combat the other drivers and try to be the last car going.  There are weapons to pick up scattered all over the arena, and each vehicle also has a special weapon that recharges over time.  The strength of these weapons varies and can be seen on the car selection screen along with the car’s speed and armor rating.  These special weapons vary greatly.  Some are very easy to use, but often the more powerful ones are more complex to use.  Some need to be charged up for full power, others need to be guided after you fire it, and one even needs you to do a wheelie on a motorcycle to get it up to full power before firing.

New to this Twisted Metal game is that you can use any character in any vehicle.  Previously only Sweet Tooth could use his ice cream truck and only Mr. Grimm could use his motorcycle but now anyone can use them.   I am not a fan of this change.  I feel it takes away the uniqueness of each character and just makes them just sort of tacked on for looks only.  Also it just seems wrong to see Dollface driving around in an ice cream truck, or Sweet Tooth in Axel’s giant tire rig.

Each level of the campaign is one of several types of competitions.  The standard is to fight to be the last car standing.  Then there are levels where an armored and heavily armed semi called a Juggernaut spawns new cars where you need to destroy the Juggernaut and then the rest of the cars.  Next there are endurance levels where you have to kill a set number of opponents and finally there are races that are just that, a race to the end where you must come in first.  Each section of the campaign also has a boss battle at the end.  These boss battles are unique and can be very long levels.  Going as fast as I could on the second boss bottle the level still took me 45 minutes.

Now I have not mentioned the controls or difficulty of the game yet because these are the weakest parts of Twisted Metal. The controls are not very intuitive and seem overly complicated.  The game is so fast paced it would really benefit from a more streamlined set of controls that let you worry about what was going on onscreen over trying to remember the best way to switch to your special weapon, change to its alternate and then how to active it to its fullest potential.

The difficulty of the game is rather trying at times.  As expected the game does increase in difficulty, as you go but not consistently.   Unfortunately the changes in difficulty are always upward.  There are levels you will feel are impossible at times and might take over twenty attempts at to complete.  I was stuck on one level that I only managed to complete by luck and when I looked online at how others completed it most mentioned that luck was a big part of making it past that level.  Any game where luck is needed to finish a level needs to rethink level design and game mechanics.

One of the biggest problems I had with Twisted Metal was that no matter how many contestants where on the screen at a time they always all seemed to zero in on me.  I never saw enemies target each other or kill each other.  If this is a competition to survive why aren’t they going after each other?  There would be times where I would be at full health and in a blink of an eye five enemies would all target me, let loose with all they had and I would die. I like a challenge but having every competitor attack the player is not a proper way to make a game challenging.

Another frustrating thing with the difficulty is that the lowest level of difficulty is Normal.  There is no Easy setting for some reason.  I have played all the Twisted Metal games and found this one to be the hardest easily so I cannot imagine how hard it will be for new players to come into.  For this reason I fear that Twisted Metal will not be very accessible to new players.

There are other modes to the game besides the single player campaign.  There is single player challenges that are basically single rounds of what you go through in the campaign.  There is also online multiplayer both local and online.  These modes include story co-op and then various death match varieties, which does help to extend the playability of the game.

In the end I have to say that the new Twisted Metal is almost a step back in the series.  It has the same wild car combat as before but with a difficulty that is far too high, and a story mode where the cut scenes detract from the game rather than enhance it.  If you want a frustratingly tough challenge then Twisted Metal is for you, but if you are looking for the fun of the older games in the series pick up the PS1 Classic instead.

Final Rating: 6/10

CBR Break Down:
Console Played On: Playstation 3
Time to completion: ~18 hours
Trophies Earned: 7/40
Price Bought at: $59.99
Current Price: $49.99 (Amazon)
Recommend Purchase Price: $25 or less
Why you should buy it: You liked the Twisted Metal series and don’t mind ripping your hair out in frustration
Why you shouldn’t buy it: You easily get car sick and are unlucky in combat

  • Too bad. I was actually thinking about taking a closer look at this game. But basically the flaws you mentioned in the game were pretty much what I was worried might exist in the game. Thanks for saving me the $$$.

  • 18 hours to completion? The campaign is 3 hours long. I call bullshit.

    The only reason to play Twisted Metal is for the online multiplayer, it’s the bread and butter of the game and your entire review focuses on the single-player which was an afterthought to the multi.

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