Twisted Metal – Review

A review of Twisted Metal I wrote for the website www.square-go.com

Twisted Metal is a very American game. It is a game with a fair bit of history, given that it’s first release dates back to the original grey PlayStation. It has always been popular, more over the other side of the Atlantic than ours. This is because it is a very American game. The game is one of a genre that comes and goes in the popularity stakes; the car combat games. Take a large arena, add weapons and you generally have a fun combination. Twisted Metal is, essentially, a grown-up version of Mario Kart only with less racing.

Each area generally comes down to the following; find weapons, shoot opponents until they explode, repeat until everyone is crushed wreckage underneath your armoured tires. What helps is that the game looks great; each area is big with everything looking rock solid; even when the explosions are flying it still keeps up with you.

So, when we say at the beginning it’s a very American game, what does that mean? Well, for one it has the generic heavy metal soundtrack that blurs into a repetitive guitar riff after a few minutes. The screen is crammed with information; there’s arrows pointing to your enemies, weapon information, stuff flashes up with how much damage you’ve done, it’s all very busy.

Twisted Metal also has one of those grim and gritty ‘mature’ stories that Americans do so well. In the story mode you get a bit of background about each competitor in the competition, like the popular Sweet Tooth. He’s a racer who wears clown makeup and who’s head is on fire who spends his time driving round in his ice cream truck killing people. It’s all very Grindhouse-y which is reflected in the cutscenes; interestingly these are filmed which can be a bad thing but here it fits in with the vibe of the game. One of the inspirations is clearly things like Death Race 2000 from the 70s so to invoke this looks with filmed segments is a very interesting design choice that works quite well. The story is simply an excuse to get people into cars and blowing up stuff and is far from groundbreaking but the effort is appreciated.

What the game is really about is making things explode which is fun, once you get your head around the controls. Despite it looking like a racing game Twisted Metal doesn’t control like a racing game; the main example being that the accelerator/brake are taken off the shoulder buttons and moved to the face buttons. This sounds like a small thing but takes a couple of rounds to get used to. But once you do, the game clicks and you can enjoy the explosions and the shooting.

The best way to do this is with friends, either online or split screen in the same room. There is a good selection of game modes that should keep you interested in the game.

Twisted Metal is very enjoyable, it’s nothing groundbreaking or anything like that, but it is a well-crafted piece of fun great for a blast with friends online. Thanks to the design of the game it may not be for everyone so definitely try before you buy.

Four stars out of five

Originally published May 4th 2012

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