In this review, we laugh like a Maniac in the Playstation game, Twisted Metal. We find out how well this vehicle combat game plays.
In this game, you play as 1 of the 12 characters in this game. The first character, Sweet Tooth, is the first character that pops up in the selection screen. This character would also be a sort of series mascot for future games as well. Other characters include a ghost, a police officer, and two rock fans driving a monster truck.
If you pick a character, you can also be given the opportunity to select the game difficulty. The only thing this definitely affects is how much damage you take from enemy fire. I don’t know if this affects recharge time of health stations, but it certainly felt like an eternity limping around the level waiting for them to reappear.
Each character has their own specialized vehicle. Along with this is a special weapon they can unleash onto their opponents. These weapons can include a large rocket propelled metal rod, Molotov cocktails, and even a laser beam. While the weapons may be unique to each character, they all have a few things in common: You always start off with a full supply of this weapon in each battle, they have the “special” icon when you select the weapon, your ammo is also denoted by green squares, and they always recharge after a while when you’ve used at least one shot (one shot at a time, recharge times vary). While some of these weapons can be quite deadly when used right, it is rare that these weapons will be enough for a single opponent, let alone multiple opponents.
That leads to the necessity of other weapons found throughout the level. These weapons are found in pink bubbles that are sitting on the ground. Sometimes, they are hidden away in destructible objects or walls. Others, however, are strewn throughout the level. Most regular weapons can be categorized into two different kinds: missiles, or weapons that you drop from behind your vehicle.
The missiles include regular “fire” missiles, homing missiles that track enemies better and cause more damage than regular missiles, freeze missiles that freeze an opponent in place until you use another regular weapon on them (excluding machine gun), and the somewhat rare “power” missiles that don’t track, but pack quite a punch.
Weapons you drop behind include spikes, mines, spring mines (launches a vehicle into the air, but don’t cause damage), and oil slick (doesn’t cause damage when not on fire, but causes a vehicle to lose traction).
Two more oddball weapons are the rear missile (just like a regular missile, but launches backwards instead) and rear flame thrower. Both of these weapons can be tricky to execute properly on an opponent, but can be effective.
With the exception of the first level (Arena), there are also recharge stations found throughout the various levels. When available, these are squares with four spikes that emit electric bolts. Since the game pits every opponent on the level against you, these stations are likely the only reason you have a shot at defeating every single one of them. You drive over top of these stations and the station will freeze you in place, making repairs to your vehicle. They will recharge your vehicle by about half. Once used, they will just appear as a little bump on the road. Eventually, they do re-appear as active, but that usually takes a while. Use sparingly if possible.
Also with the Arena being the exception to the rule, there are also civilians that dot the landscape. Some of these civilians (such as the suit and tie ones or the ones drinking a beer in a lawn chair) are quite harmless, but can be run over. Most civilians, however, are typically firing weapons at you. Either the civilians are firing regular weapon fire or even a rocket launcher. Killing them off either with your machine gun or running them over can help increase the chances of your survival.
Aiding you along the way is the radar. This radar is quite crude, but can tell you some basic info about the area you are in. The colored dots are nearby opponents. The flashing black and white “x” marks are active recharge stations near by. Arrows indicate distant opponents. While this radar can be difficult to read, it is more than possible to get used to this crude feature.
Also on the screen is your health. If your health reaches the bottom, you can be destroyed. Right next to this bar are three green dots. These indicate lives that you have. Run out of these and it’s game over. If you use a life, but have another one to spare, you’ll be resurrected at the start of the level. While you’ll get full health and the game remembers who you destroyed and what damage you’ve inflicted on the remaining survivors, you may be assessed a penalty on your arsenal (depends on the difficulty). Assess what you have left after each life before choosing to restock or heading into battle again.
No matter who you select as your character, the level structure is always the same. You first enter the Arena against one opponent. Defeat that opponent, then you go to a small street level (Warehouse) against three opponents. From there, you’ll get to take on the freeway, then take on two more city levels (one more center core level and one suburban level). Each level will increase the number of opponents, so defeating an opponent or two quickly becomes more and more imperative to your overall survival. If you make it all the way to the end of the game, you’ll take on a unique rooftop level where falling off will mean death to you. You take on three opponents in this level. If you defeat all three of them, you’ll then take on the games boss: Minion. Defeat Minion, and win the game.
The general storyline is that Calypso, a mysterious character, has created the Twisted Metal competition. Each character has their own motivation for entering the contest. If you win the game, you’ll get treated to a picture of Calypso as well as some scrolling text on how things end. Calypso will grant anything as a prize, so what that prize is is up to the contestant. You’ll get to see one additional scene (often the character just driving off into the distance) as the end of the text scrolls past before the credits.
One final note about the game is that the gameplay itself is generally split between two types of play. The first is that you need to play scavenger for chunks of the game. Whether it is arming yourself to the teeth, or hoping that those recharge stations will finally reappear, you’ll need to do some collecting during battle. The other part of the game is raw battle with your opponents. Your success in these battles depends largely on your preparation. Whether you have spent a good 5 minutes collecting weapons or have collected a huge stash before polishing off the last opponent in the previous level, preparation is often key to how well you do attacking some of your opponents. Still, strategy in battle is also key to your success. Taking on too many opponents at once can easily land you in the scrapyard in a hurry. However, picking off opponents that have opted to scout around or doing quick hit and runs can help you succeed.
One criticism I’ve heard is that this game is too short and can be completed within a couple of hours. This, I would say, is not really true. It is possible to see the end credits in the matter of a couple of hours, however, that seems to hinge on the idea that completing the game means completing the game with only one character. Try to complete the game with all 12 hours, and you’ll get a total number of hours that is adequate for a standard game.
While that was a criticism I disagree with, this game isn’t perfect by any means. The weapons system, for instance, leaves a lot to be desired. While the special weapons do have a fair amount of creativity behind it, the normal weapons are quite limited. A game like this needs more than mines and missiles to say it has a great arsenal of weapons. Some of these weapons would make you believe that these weapons are more suitable to a more racing battle type game rather than a vehicle combat game.
Another criticism I have for this game is the fact that you only get subtle hints of character development. All you get is a profile with a picture and some text that describes the character at the beginning. After this, all you get is the unique sound the characters special weapon makes and the ending text. While it may be sufficient in giving players an idea on what the characters are like, it’s not enough for the characters to be memorable by any means. As a result, they become passing acquaintances as you work your way through the game.
In addition to this, the level variety also leaves a bit to be desired. Every level centers around an urban landscape to some degree. While there is some variety between the levels, more would have been better.
Having said that, some of the levels do open up after a while. If you’ve played the levels a number of times, you’ll eventually start noticing small well-hidden corridors, trenches, and even destructible walls that reveal particularly powerful weapons. This does add some variety to what would otherwise be quite repetitive play.
One thing to watch out for is the physics. Sometimes, the game struggles to figure out your location when next to other objects. As a result, your car may flicker between two locations until the game finally makes up its mind. Sometimes this is because you are very close to an opponent while other times, it is because of a wall that you happened to land on. While it may, at first, look like just a glitch, the banging around can also cause some serious health loss in the process. Sometimes, opponents may spin uncontrollably (especially after freshly getting killed). If the car bangs up against you, you can also find yourself limping away from the experience.
So, while there is some good gameplay to be had here, this game is far from perfect. Because of this, I would say this game is worth playing through, but not repeatedly necessarily.
Graphically speaking, it is impressive that this game is 3D. Unfortunately, the fact that it is 3D is about as far as the thumbs up goes. The game loads some very tiny sections at a time. Because of this, you may drive into an area that is just a single color until the road finally loads. The textures do a lot of warping as you move around. In fact, the objects themselves to a fair bit of warping as well. This is to the point that if you find yourself reversing near a wall, the wall can warp enough to block your vehicle for split sections. This means you are actually backing up into a non-existent wall, slowing you down. In addition to this, it is easy to even see through walls from time to time. So, good effort for being 3D, but needs improvement.
The music was OK, but nothing huge. The intro music and the final level worked pretty well, but that’s about it. The samples for the special weapons worked pretty well. The other sound effects were decent, though there was no real engine sound that changes as you travel to speak of. This was a bit odd in my books. Instead, you might hear an idle engine sound at times, but that’s about it.
Overall, while this may not be the greatest game in the world, it wasn’t a bad one to play. If you can get past the strange physics, the warping of objects, and low grade graphics, there is some enjoyment to be had here. Play can get a little repetitive as you complete the game with the different characters, and some people might even quit the game while going through every character. Still, with an initial jump in a learning curve, this game takes some getting used to. After that, the ending may not seem entirely worthwhile as you are just getting some scrolling text. So, not a bad game to play, but it might not have much in the way of lasting appeal because, by the time you win with each character, it’s hard to be motivated to play this game much further.
Furthest point in game: Beat the game with all 12 characters.
General gameplay: 19/25
Replay value: 6/10
Overall rating: 70%