Vehicular combat games are a rarity nowadays, with 2010's Blood Drive being the only game of its type released in recent times.
Back in the day, Twisted Metal and Vigilante 8 were the car combat games of choice (with Vigilante 8 being my favourite). But it was the former that was most popular, and incidentally, the longest running PlayStation-exclusive franchise to date (from 1995 to present).
With the last game in the franchise being 2008's Twisted Metal Head On: Extra Twisted Edition on the PS2, I think it's about time a new game in the franchise is due. Welcome back, Twisted Metal.
In Twisted Metal, a vehicle combat tournament is held by the enigmatic Calypso, who grants the winner a wish. This wish can be almost anything, which is quite a draw for the contestants, ranging from homicidal serial killer Sweet Tooth to deranged stuntman Mr Grimm.
In order to win this tournament, contestants must destroy the competition by using different vehicles (with different abilities, weapons and stats) until it's the last man standing.
The single player campaign of Twisted Metal PS3, unlike previous games, only allows you to play with three characters, namely series mascot Sweet Tooth, Krista Sparks aka. Dollface and Mr. Grimm. The upside to this is that these three characters can use any of the vehicles in the game.
The game starts with Sweet Tooth's story arc, which is introduced via fantastic live action cut scenes. It's an interesting choice considering that the game is not really story driven.
Be warned though, these cut scenes are extremely dark in tone and not recommended for the faint of heart. I felt like I was watching a Michael Myers Halloween movie. Once the initial cut scene was out of the way, I was eagerly anticipating the forthcoming carnage. Instead, I was greeted with stupid controls.
Twisted Metal's default controls are downright confusing, using square to accelerate and down on the right analogue stick to reverse. Weird right?
Thankfully, you can change the controls in the options, with the 'race' control setting more to my liking, as the shoulder triggers handle accelerating and reversing. The other buttons are used for your default and special weapons.
As mentioned before , you have access to different vehicles, with different handling and abilities, ranging from the fast but poorly armoured Reaper motorcycle, to the powerful but slow 18 wheeler Juggernaut truck. Not all the vehicles are available from the start, but can be unlocked as you progress.
As for the maps, well, there quite a few, such as a demolition-derby style TV game show to a small American town, complete with destructible buildings and and other distractions like ramps etc.
The maps are quite fun and varied, but graphically, it all looks very basic. If other games like Red Faction Armageddon can produce decent graphics with obscene amounts of destructibility, I'm not sure what the problem is. It's disappointing, especially considering that the game was originally delayed for this exact reason (lack of polish). Anyway, just nitpicking.
Despite the awesome, but short, single player campaign, it was quite evident from the outset that Twisted Metal was clearly designed for multiplayer.
The game-types are quite well designed and practically problem free. You have your usual Deathmatch as well as an interesting team-based mode called Nuke, which is essentially Capture the Flag, Twisted Metal style.
The online experience was mostly painless, although I did struggle to get into games at times. Once I did, it was smooth sailing, with minimal lag and an experience system to unlock items, just like other popular online games. The multiplayer is reason enough to buy this game as it's vastly more fun to play with other human players than the game's AI.
Twisted Metal PS3 is a good single-player game and an even better multiplayer game. The cut scenes don't gel with the single player campaign though, and the campaign is too short.
In fact, if you accept the fact the the campaign should be treated as a lengthy tutorial for the multiplayer, then you won't be disappointed.
The varying mission objectives in the single player are quite entertaining and have plenty of variety, but the game needs more content.
Graphics are average at best and if you like rock tunes, then the game will be music to your ears.
If you are looking for multiplayer, you won't be disappointed as you'll be playing this for months (community permitting). Just make sure that you pick this game up new as it does have an online pass.
Buy this game if you want multiplayer and car combat. Everybody else, borrow your friend's copy instead.
Score: 7 out of 10