Feb 022012

I have to be honest, before playing the recently released demo, I had zero expectations for Twisted Metal and had no intention of ever buying it. I had played some of the original Playstation entries in the series, but I’ve never really considered myself a fan of Twisted Metal. Everything I’d seen of the upcoming reboot, simply titled Twisted Metal, seemed alright for it was, but I was completely disinterested in the game. Now that I’ve a played a few hours the of the multiplayer demo, I can’t say I’ve completely changed my position, but I am much more optimistic than I was.

For those who are unaware, Twisted Metal is a car combat series dating all the way back to the original Playstation, with several entries on the PS1, one on the PS2, and one on the PSP. The defining characteristics of the series have always been crazy characters, over the top vehicles and weapons, and action packed deathmatch gameplay; all aspects which are present in the newest incarnation. The demo only features the multiplayer portion of the game, but if you don’t want to play online, you can play an offline match against bots. The main game will feature multiple game modes, but the only two modes in the demo are standard free-for-all deathmatch and variant of Capture the Flag called “Nuke”.

There are quite a few vehicles available in the demo, though not all of the vehicles from the final game are present in the demo. Like past games in the series, each of the vehicles has it’s own special attack, which operates on a cool-down timer to prevent spamming. The cars also each have their own unique handling characteristics, making car choice more than a cosmetic decision. The smaller vehicles, like motorcycles and sports cars, tend to be much faster and more maneuverable, but are much more susceptible to damage than say a semi-truck or SUV. In the Nuke game mode, it is often best to choose vehicles that fit the situation. For example, when your team is on offense, picking a small nimble vehicle will allow you to get in and get out with the flag much quicker, while a big strong vehicle may be preferable while defending.

The depth and variety of the vehicles is a nice feature, though it would mean nothing if the game didn’t play well, and the game does indeed play well. The handling is appropriately loose and “arcadey”, but also offers a decent amount of precision. You can easily do a 180 while going full speed and start unloading machine gun fire into the enemy that was chasing you, and you also have the ability to boost and jump.  As far as the combat goes, you always have your basic machine guns and your special weapon (on a cool-down), but you can also pick up more powerful weapons such as missiles, sniper rifles, and napalm by driving over power-ups on the map. The only issue with combat is that aiming these weapons doesn’t require much precision. Most of the car specific attacks will lock on to nearby enemies, and many of the power-ups also lock on. The weapons that don’t lock on simply fire the direction your facing, meaning you never have to worry about manually aiming any guns, save for a few rare instances. While this may eliminate some player skill in a multiplayer setting, it puts the focus on out-maneuvering your opponents rather than out-aiming them, which seems like the best choice for a car combat game. One thing about the controls though, is that there are only 3 presets, and you can’t manually define the button mapping, which seemed like the worst thing ever at first, but I quickly got used to the default control scheme and pretty much forgot about the issue completely.

One thing that really stood out to me as being really good was the music. This game has a wide variety of licensed music, and most of it is fantastic. It’s got songs from artists such as White Zombie, Sammy Hagar, and N.W.A. if you can believe that. The majority of the music is hard rock/metal and rap, but there are some more techno sounding instrumental tracks as well. Overall, there is a great variety of music and most of it seems pretty great. Even the stuff that isn’t exactly my cup of tea, I can recognize as being good for fans of that style of music. The only oddity is that some of the music is the unedited album versions of songs, while others appear to be the cleaned up radio edits, which just seems weird. To have the song “Straight Outta Compton” be entirely unedited, then play the radio version of “More Human than Human” seems really weird, especially considering this is an M-Rated game.

Like I said, I didn’t really have any expectations going in, and I was pleasantly surprised by what I played of the game. Twisted Metal is by no means high art, and it’s not going to replace more serious, story focused games like Mass Effect 3 or Bioshock Infinite on my list of most anticipated games, but it’s a fun game nonetheless. It’s a very mindless, over the top action game not meant to be taken too seriously, and sometimes that type of game is just what I’m looking for. Just like there is a place in film for over the top action movies, there is certainly a place for Twisted Metal in the gaming industry, and I am interested to see how the final game turns out. Twisted Metal is set for release on February 14 for Playstation 3.

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