Truth be told, we’re scared of David Jaffe. The guy makes some awe-inspiring games, but we’re not to sure what goes on inside that head of his. When he claims that he is Sweet Tooth, the demonic ice-cream truck-driving clown, we get a bit frightened. We forgive him though, because Sweet Tooth and all his other unique characters make for some brilliant Twisted Metal titles, such as the latest in the series, Twisted Metal: Head-on: Extra Twisted Edition.
At its base, Twisted Metal: Head-on: Extra Twisted Edition is a port of PSP launch title Twisted Metal: Head-on, the title universally considered to be the true sequel to Twisted Metal 2. However, this new port from Eat Sleep Play contains far more content than the original title, a la the “Extra Twisted Edition” sub-subtitle. We’ll get to that later.
In Head-on, akin to the other titles in the series, a gentleman by the name of Calypso plays host to a vehicular combat tournament dubbed “Twisted Metal.” This crazed man promises the victor whatever they desire. In come the contestants, from the robotic Axel to the sinister Mr. Grimm, who all hope to come out on top in the deadly contest.
The gameplay is essentially unchanged from past Twisted Metals. Luckily, it’s also timeless. Choose a vehicle (each has unique stats and its own special move), grab various weapons, and decimate your opponents in back and forth high-speed brawls. The differing arenas, which thankfully aren’t as dark as those found in Twisted Metal: Black, help add depth to the addictive gameplay. You’ll battle in a baseball stadium, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Transylvania Castle (Extra Twisted Edition exclusive) and more. Despite several of the areas being remarkably large, we were always running into enemies, which kept the pace up considerably.
Head-on feels right at home on the PlayStation 2 controller. The extra buttons, when united with the three different control schemes (we recommend the second one), certainly don’t hurt the title’s transition from PSP to PS2. What doesn’t come away as flawless is the multiplayer aspect of the port. Although both the Challenge and Endurance modes are still available, multiplayer has been sliced and diced when compared to the original title. You’ll only be able to play deathmatch or co-op with a single friend, as opposed to numerous other players. While we were slightly dissatisfied with this backwards transformation, playing with one other buddy split-screen style is still a fun time.
In comes the extra content. In this Extra Twisted Edition of Head-on lies almost an entirely new game. The “Lost Levels” are torn straight from Twisted Metal: Black’s cancelled sequel. Introduced with a grim description (six developers died in a plane crash, thus the full game was cancelled), the Lost Levels still contain all three modes — Story, Endurance, and Challenge — from Head-on. The title, originally set to be in an open, branching world of sorts, has been divvied up into four separate levels (one of which must be unlocked). The levels go back to the dark, unforgiving style that Black touted, which is regrettable. Everything else though, notwithstanding the complete lack of any sort of narrative, feels absolutely Twisted.
Being on par with other Twisted Metals is great for the most part. When is having explosive and addictive gameplay a bad thing? When it comes to presentation however, being likened to a seven year old PS2 game, in this case Twisted Metal: Black, is probably not something to brag about. Simply put, the graphics are underwhelming. Despite Eat Sleep Play claiming that the port of Head-on has been technically enhanced with improved textures and such, we’re not seeing it. It still looks nearly identical to the game we played three years ago on the PSP. As for the Lost Levels, they’re a bit better, as unlike Head-on they were always designed for the PS2. Regardless, they won’t push your PS2 to eleven, far from it. It’s fairly simple when one lays it all out; graphics junkies should stay away, but gameplay lovers are A-ok.
Outside of the Lost Levels, there’s still a plethora of bonus content on the disc. The Sweet Tour, in which you take control of an on-foot Sweet Tooth, gives players a guided tour full of concept art, reading, and the rough edges of a gameplay concept that never made it into a Twisted Metal game. It’s somewhat intriguing, but it won’t hold your attention for longer than ten or fifteen minutes.
The real champion of the bonus material is the video content. First up is Twisted Metal: The Dark Past, a solid video documentary that will capture the attention of Twisted Metal fans in addition to bringing newcomers up to speed on the series. This video also contains the hidden message "TWISTED METAL IS COMING ON PSTHREE." Can you decipher it yourself?
Lastly, Extra Twisted Edition has all the live action endings for each character that were cut from the original Twisted Metal. They’re hilariously bad, from the 1990’s film grain to the god-awful script, but trust us; you’ll want to watch them all. Make sure to check out Sweet Tooth’s and Darkside’s endings – we found those to be the funniest.
Twisted Metal: Head-on: Extra Twisted Edition is a perfect example of a PSP to PS2 port done right. With an overabundance of bonus content, it offers outstanding value for a measly USD 20. The graphics aren’t on par with today’s standards, but if you are honestly looking for astounding production values, why would you be playing a PS2 game in the first place? Eat Sleep Play is off to an excellent start in our book. Make sure to check this one out.