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Review: Twisted Metal Reboot Mostly Gets the Job Done Right

Fans of the long time PS series, Twisted Metal, were finally given a chance to play the rebooted Twisted Metal game for the PS3 this week, and for the most part the experience paid off immensely.  The Twisted Metal franchise (namely TM 2) is hands down one of my favorite Sony exclusives, and I don’t necessarily love car games.  The whole deathmatch with vehicles idea provides for some intense gaming that really can’t be achieved in traditional shooter based games.  The HD reboot, which I’ve played extensively this week, does a pretty good job at recreating the experience of the original Twisted Metal games, and while the game’s online functionality hasn’t been perfect, the gameplay lives up to the expectations set by its predecessors many consoles ago.

 

Twisted Metal PS3

EB 8.5 out of 10 Buddhas

The Awesome: Classic gameplay feel, Level design, Interesting cinematics

The Not so Awesome: Unreliable multiplayer, Racing levels, Extremely challenging (for gamers that don’t like to be tested)

 

The Awesome

Classic gameplay feel

The rebooted version of Twisted Metal for the PS3 immediately made me feel like I was playing Twisted Metal 2 again, albeit in a HD format.  The look, feel, and essence of the classic Twisted Metal games has definitely been recaptured in the PS3 version.  The gameplay is very tight, yet forgiving, so it’s not like you need to be a car game expert to master it.  In fact, I believe gamers who are more skilled at online shooters will actually have more success with this game than gamers who are masters of racing games.  Eat Sleep Play has managed to turn a game featuring cars into a fast paced, death defying, thrill ride that feels more like an Unreal Tournament game on speed, than a Mario Kart.

Action is fast and furious

Sometimes video games that rely on driving a vehicle can fall flat due to the wonky driving controls.  One of my biggest beefs with open world games like GTA is that you’re more or less forced to drive vehicles that handle as if they were real.  Unless a developer is going for a realistic racing simulator there’s no reason to make driving vehicles feel as clunky as doing so in real life.  This is what I appreciate about games like Twisted Metal and Mario Kart.  Their driving games at their core, but they achieve the illusion of being more of a fast paced shooter than a game solely based on driving vehicles.  Like I mentioned earlier a Twisted Metal match on the PS3 is more similar to a game of Modern Warfare 3 than say Forza 4.  This is the main reason why I’ve always appreciated the Twisted Metal franchise, and thankfully the PS3 version recaptures that shooter in a vehicle feel.

Level design

I’m going to draw from my TM2 days to once again make comparison’s to the newly released PS3 version.  If you played TM2 then you definitely remember its outlandish levels that were packed full of destructible environments, secrets, and interesting landscapes.  I mean who doesn’t remember first figuring out that you could blow up the Eiffel Tower, so you could use it as a ramp to access a secret area full of pick-ups?  That same type of experience is found in the Twisted Metal reboot, but it’s in HD, which undoubtedly makes it even more awesome.

Yes that’s a huge rolling film reel of death

One of the levels from the new game that I’ve already begun to favor takes place in an amusement park complete with a roller coaster track, and other rides that you can interact with.  I also enjoyed a smaller level which features a Rose Bowl like stadium where you have to frantically avoid being slaughtered in its tight confines.  I know there’s even more secrets to find in all of the new maps in the Twisted Metal reboot, but I haven’t quite put in the time to find them all.  I do know that if you enjoyed the previous game’s outlandish level design, then you’ll definitely dig the maps in the PS3 version.

Interesting cinematics

The Twisted Metal series has never been known for its story telling.  It’s always been a franchise based on tight gameplay and a fun experience rather than a game with a deep storyline.  This is why I was pleasantly surprised to see that the Twisted Metal reboot features full on cinematic sections that focus on some of the back stories of the main characters such as Sweet Tooth, Mr. Grimm, and Doll Face.  What’s even more surprising is that these little cinematics are actually well done.  Eat Sleep Play employed a grind house feel to these mini-movies while also mixing in some motion comic animations.  If I had to explain it I’d tell you that the cinematics look like a cross between the Sin City movie and Machete.  There are actual actors playing roles in these shorts, but they’re animated in a motion comic style.  It’s honestly one of the more unique styles of video game cinematics that I’ve ever seen, so that is why I decided to include it with the pros of this TM reboot.

Live action cinematics help to flesh out the thin plot a bit

 

The Not so Awesome

Unreliable multiplayer

Unfortunately Twisted Metal’s launch on the PS3 suffered the same type of networking issues that other major online games have experienced this year.  On the game’s actual release day the multiplayer functionality was sporadic at best.  There were times were I couldn’t even connect to their servers to see if there were any games available to join.  Once games were available they then became almost impossible to get into.  If you were lucky enough to join a lobby you’d then have to wait an extremely long time for the match to start, because the lobby has to reach a set number of players before it’ll launch the match.

Crappy pic for crappy launch week multiplayer functionality

I’ve been following David Jaffe (series creator) on Twitter, and it seems like most of the online issues are being hammered out, but it’s always disappointing to buy a brand new game that you’ve been dying to play only to have it fail on the networking side of its multiplayer component.  Like I said hopefully all of the BS will be worked out, but the damage may have already been done for some of this game’s more casual fans.

Racing levels

The inclusion of racing sections in this version of Twisted Metal will undoubtedly polarize the fan base.  I think some fans will love these Mario-Kart-esque sections, while others will hate them.  I’m kind of in the middle.  I think separately they work great.  I’d almost rather have a racing circuit type of campaign in addition to the deathmatch centric campaign that the TM series is know for.  These sections are fun, but they will kick your a*s.  If you don’t have the perfect race then good luck finishing before your car explodes.  The Mario-Kart AI is known to cheat during races, but the TM AI takes this to a whole new level.  There were certain instances where the race would start, and before I knew it I was being blown into oblivion by every other racer on the course.  It was as if an invisible giant swooped in and picked me up like a matchbox car and just casually tossed me about like a piece of trash.

Imagine this is a racing level, I’d be at the center of the explosion

I would go from first to worst faster than you could say f*cking bullish*t, and it got a little frustrating.  On the other hand though the racing sections, once the course layout is learned, can be a blast, but be prepared to unleash your gaming demons during your first few tries.  They are exhilarating when you’re winning and luck is on your side, but they can also become heart breaking affairs that make you want to smash your puny PS3 controller.

Extremely challenging (for gamers that don’t like to be tested)

The Twisted Metal reboot is not for the faint of heart, and that’s even in regards to the game’s Normal setting.  I’m not saying that this is the most difficult game I’ve ever played, but there’s definitely a learning curve that takes some getting used to before you can make a name for yourself in the game’s campaign.  It almost feels like it’s you versus the bots, because they seem to be more focused on blasting you to bits than all of the other AI racers on the course.  I always felt like I was being ganged up on, so I was forced to use vehicles that could take more punishment than the nimbler ones with awesome weapons.

The racing sections also play into the “This game is pretty hard” formula due to the examples I highlighted above.  Sometimes it’s nice to just play games on their easiest setting and dominate them, but Twisted Metal isn’t one of those games.  You will be challenged on Normal, and don’t even get me started about the “Twisted Metal” difficulty setting.  It has gamer stroke written all over it.

 

The Final Verdict

Without a doubt the PS3 debut of Twisted Metal is a must own for fans of the series.  It’s gameplay is reminiscent of some of this frachise’s better offerings, and it’ll instantly transport you back to the 90’s when this series had its heyday.  The tight driving controls and unique level designs make for a very engaging deatchmatch experience that even shooter fans will enjoy.  The game has suffered from networking issues since launch, and it’s multiplayer isn’t perfect yet, but that still doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy the single player campaign, or even better – 4-player split screen local matches!

My biggest beef with this entry in the TM series is the racing sections.  They can be fun if they were their own separate game type, but they feel a little odd when mixed in with the deathmatch heavy levels that make up the campaign.  I give Twisted Metal on the PS3 an EB 8.5 out of 10 Buddhas.  What are you waiting for?  Buy it today!  You’ve been needing to give this genre of gaming a try…

 

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Tags : ImpressionsPS3 ExclusiveTwisted Metal
Matt Heywood

The author Matt Heywood

Matt Heywood is the founder and EIC of EntertainmentBuddha.com where he strives to make you a better geek, one post at a time! When he's not scouring the Internet for interesting nuggets of awesomeness he can be found in his secret lair enjoying the latest and greatest video games, taking pictures of toys, or talking Star Wars on EB's Star Wars Time podcast show.