Twisted Metal Review
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If you're up for a challenge and some old-school fun, then Twisted Metal is the game for you.
- Great variety of cars and power-ups
- B-movie cut scenes are especially well done. TM movie anyone?
- Genuinely challenging
- Twitchy controls in places
- Car and environment physics are pretty much non-existent
- Unbalanced AI
Having been away from the Twisted Metal franchise for quite some time, I went into this review wide eyed and anxious for a return to the days of old; when mindlessly screaming around a map, destroying all who get in your way was the order of the day and we all loved it. Strange now how fond memories of childhood are associated with images of an ice cream truck and a clown with his hair on fire. Anyway, the latest entry in the Twisted Metal franchise does bring me back to those glory days, but carries with it memories both good and bad.
The campaign follows the paths of three main characters, Mr. Grimm, Dollface, and, of course, Sweet Tooth. You start out with Sweet Tooth playing through a series of missions. The game is styled with strict linearity, meaning you start as Sweet Tooth and continue as such until his portion of the campaign is over. There’s no switching characters midstream, so if you want to see how the live action cut scenes are for the other characters, prepare for a grind. It's well worth it, though. Strangely, the campy, over-the-top B movie style cut scenes lay out a loose storyline that has absolutely nothing to do with the missions you take part in. Nonetheless, the style of artwork is fantastic during these interludes, edgy and brutal. Not once did I feel the compulsion to skip ahead. Why they didn’t tie them in with the storyline of the missions presented to you in the single player mode, who knows. It's a nitpick that is easy to overlook while playing, though some people will surely take issue with.
While playing the campaign, you will be presented with your standard fare of game modes, with your goal in each one to survive. Last man standing takes home the prize. In some instances you are just one man -- erm, make that clown -- on a map just trying to survive. Others find you in a map with a roving area of confinement called a “cage”. Stray out of the area, and you will eventually start taking damage. Make no mistake, when the cage moves, you will be outside of it. You have a grace period which prevents you from taking damage, but it is a single timer for the entirety of the level. So if you run out of grace period, then the next time the cage moves you will instantly start taking damage. Aptly named juggernaut levels provide you plenty of excuses to throw your controller down in frustration. Here, you are tasked with destroying an enormous semi-truck and trailer that continually spawns other competitors until you destroy it.
There are weaknesses on the Juggernaut, but it is up to you to find them. Believe me, even on normal level of difficulty, these levels are some of the toughest around. Part of this is due to a large level of imbalance in AI. If you find yourself in the middle of three or four AI opponents, they will drop everything and come straight after you. Forsaking each other, you are subject of their sole attention. On most normal maps, this isn’t a deal breaker, but on the Juggernaut levels this becomes a huge source of irritation. It seems that you simply cannot take the time to hit the Juggernaut until these irritating mosquito-like combatants are gone. These issues don’t make Twisted Metal a bad game, but it does remind us of how soft games have become. It is rare in this day and age to find a game that challenges a player like this, even on normal difficulty. Still, it treads a fine line between being heavily unbalanced, unfair or just plain difficult.
The game’s multiplayer component proved a little frustrating to review. Literally all available lobbies were sparsely populated, and were somewhat difficult to actually get into. That said the games I was able to get into were thoroughly more enjoyable than I had imagined. Whether it be 16-player deathmatch, team deathmatch, or any of the other competitive offerings up for grabs, the multiplayer excels as a compelling, all out mash fest. The same silky smooth gameplay is present in multiplayer just as it is in single player -- not ... (continued on next page)
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