Video Game Review: “Twisted Metal”

Twisted Metal was a central aspect of my childhood. I remember that I had a black-case filled with PlayStation games and every once in a while I would take a look and actually play them. I had the classic mascot’s like Crash Bandicoot, Spyro and Rayman, but I also had Twisted Metal. In-retrospect, I can look back and honestly say that the first Twisted Metal wasn’t exactly the best. I’ll be honest with you, the nostalgia of them and the imagination I apparently once had is what made the first installment playable. I went ahead and bought Twisted Metal 2 and 3 as well and I can tell you that they aren’t anything worth jumping up and down about either. I think it was all about what they meant to me and the idea of them that brought them to the table. I don’t think it had anything to do with them being tremendous experiences as video-games but because of their interesting visuals and the colorful characters.

Twisted Metal: Black was the first installment in the franchise that I would full-heartedly refer to as a solid video-game overall. The characters were enticing and the cut-scenes were some of the most impressionable aspects of the franchise for me. When I finally bit the bullet and bought a PlayStation 3 after having an Xbox 360 for a couple of years, one of the first experiences I decided to pursue was Twisted Metal for the PlayStation 3. I suppose that I wanted to have new experiences with the killer-clown Sweet Tooth and friends but with enhanced graphics and hopefully a more focused narrative.

Twisted Metal is a vehicle combat video-game developed by Eat Sleep Play and published by Sony Computer Entertainment for the PlayStation 3. It acts as a reboot of the Twisted Metal franchise and is the seventh main-entry in the Twisted Metal franchise. (8th if you count Small Brawl.) This installment marks a lot of changes in the franchise and a lot of improvements if you ask me. Besides some of the more immediate elements such as graphical enhancement, Twisted Metal PS3 offers up a much more vast array of options to choose from. Previous installments kept with the roots and nothing more whereas the latest installment offers up tracks for races to allow a much needed occasional detour to the regular shooting, explosions, so on and so fourth.

Racing is often a lot of fun with Twisted Metal, especially with some of the more vibrant tracks and it allows much more dimensions for the gaming experience as a whole. I will say though that it isn’t anywhere near where it needs to be to completely succeed. Specifically, some of the races offer too much difficulty. I don’t say this because everybody is ‘too fast,’ but because some of the tracks are unnecessarily tedious. A lot of this could have been rectified with the inclusion of a ‘respawn’ button you could press that would momentarily set you back from where you were previously but allow you to at least have a fighting chance. I remember that I would occasionally not make one of the rooftop jumps and instead of being able to try it once more I would have to take around a minute or so trying to reposition myself to make a second attempt which is completely frustrating in races that aren’t very long. In other-words, if you make one mistake in a course, you have to completely restart the race and some of the ramps take some precision to hit correctly. I feel like it could have easily be fixed. I remember that Monster Jam: Urban Destruction, which also offered a handful of fun races, had a button you could press for this and I think it would have helped alleviate the frustration. I think that would it have also let me take a little more time to practice hitting some of the ramps but honestly, I only really had trouble with one race in-particular throughout the entire experience.

A lot of the difficulty has to deal with the controls which can be extremely awkward at times, this has always been one of the issues with Twisted Metal, however, and like with previous installments, I think they can eventually be learned over time. I know for myself that I eventually became widely efficient with them but I understand that some might dislike the idea of having controls that feel so awkward that they need to be “gotten used to”.

Graphics are drastically improved upon in this installment as I think everybody expected. After all, Twisted Metal: Head-On was released around seven years earlier on the PlayStation Portable, and remade on the PlayStation 2, both of which are inferior graphically to the PlayStation 3. I think that everything looks absolutely tremendous in this installment. Everything is where it needs to be and is allowed the time and effort to really feel like what Twisted Metal should feel like. I feel like the cut-scenes looked absolutely tremendous. I really liked them and I thought they helped better get across the anthology storytelling elements first established in Twisted Metal: Black.

They look terrific and they make me think that there is definitely some potential in a Twisted Metal film down the line which has been allegedly in the pipeline for a long time now. I feel a certain cinematic-quality to them and their storytelling brings to mind a ‘scary story’ sort-of feeling that I definitely enjoyed. Looking back, I almost feel like I liked the cut-scenes in Twisted Metal PS3 and Twisted Metal: Black more than I liked the actual gaming experience itself. I can only take so much enjoyment in blowing up cars but I do believe that this rendition of the classic franchise takes that enjoyment to the Nth degree with its controls, colorful graphics and entertaining albeit over-the-top storylines.

I have a couple of things that I would have liked to see included as well. I enjoyed the storylines for what they are and all that but there isn’t exactly a whole lot there. Missions woven together by several short albeit fun and entertaining cut-scenes. I would have really enjoyed more storylines, or if that can’t happen, I would have enjoyed a Ladder Mode or something like that to really add some replayability to it all. Twisted Metal PS3 has a lot of appeal to online players but I don’t actually fall into that category. I don’t really do a whole lot of that, and I have never really been the kind-of person that will replay a game over and over again unless for some reason I feel the need to. Also, I would have enjoyed the inclusion of more vehicles and more characters to choose from.

Looking back, Twisted Metal PS3 is the best title in the series thus far, offering a whole batch of improvement in numerous ways. The storylines are fun and outlandish while at the same time carrying a certain horror element to them, visuals are at an all-time high, and through the inclusion of racing and the overall improvement of battling itself, the installment has a whole lot more to do. It isn’t completely perfect but it’s a strong title in the franchise and definitely leaves me wanting more from it.

Rating: – 3.5 out of 5.0