Review: Twisted Metal 2 (Playstation)

In this review, we fire up the Playstation game Twisted Metal 2. We find out how this vehicle combat game plays.

This game was released in 1996. It is the sequel to the original Twisted Metal game which got a half decent score here.

The game is a lot like the original in terms of overall concept. Calypso has selected the contestants, but he has a problem. He has already leveled all of LA in the last contest. This means he is struggling to come up with a new venue for this years Twisted Metal contest. His solution is to have it take place throughout the world.

In the options, you have the option to play the game on easy, medium, or hard. If you play the game on easy, you’ll only be able to take the game a certain distance before the game stops you and requires you to play on either medium or hard to complete the game.

You have a total of 12 characters to choose from at the beginning. It is possible to play as other characters that can be unlocked through cheat code.

The level structure has changed somewhat from the previous game. Previously, there was a gradual increase in difficulty as you went along. The number of opponents just gradually increased. In this game, however, you are faced with a continual onslaught of opponents that range from 5 to 8. So, the difficult part of the game starts almost immediately and doesn’t really let up. Arguably, this is a step back for the franchise because there is no real opportunity for players to get used to things unless they happen to stumble across the difficulty settings in the menu right off the bat.

What has also changed are the increase in number of bosses. After some research, we found out that there are a total of three bosses. One exists part way through the game. The other two are found at the very end of the game. There is also a large increase in number of levels players must complete in order to get to the ending – if they ever get there in the first place.

The weaponry changed somewhat in this game a well. While the concept of special weapons have remained unchanged, the normal collectible weapons have changed somewhat. Making a return are the Fire missile, homing missile, and the power missile. What has gone away are the spikes and some of the other defensive weapons that can be collected.

Something that is new is the addition in the power meter. If you manage to figure out some of the secret codes found in the game, you can launch special attacks such as napalm and freeze. While that sounds like an advantage, your opponents will be all too happy to launch these same attacks at you. Naturally, actually executing these moves can be frustrating even if the instructions you stumble onto are simple. Sometimes, you can find yourself attempting these special attacks three or four times before the trick was finally successful. On the surface, that sounds annoying, but when you need to execute it in a split second at times, these special attacks become frustrating and borderline useless in many practical circumstances.

One very noticeable change is the change in the way you can recharge on much-needed health. Instead of the recharge stations, health will appear as first aid icons. Also unlike the previous game, health will no longer appear on the radar. To make matters even more difficult is the fact that enemies can also collect this items.

An improvement in this game is the more interactive environment. While blowing up small objects for items is nothing new, what is new are the warp pads that zip you from one part of the game to another. In addition, the lightening attacks are specifically tied to certain structures found on some maps. If you use the lightening attack, anyone (including yourself) who happens to be in the vicinity of a certain structure will get hit with lightening. These structures don’t appear on every level, though. In one level, the entire level gradually self-destructs. This was certainly an interesting addition to the game that is not all that common. The only other game I can think of off the top of my head that did this was Duke Nukem 3D which happened to be released in the same year. That, of course, was player triggered.

One final point to note is the inclusion of codes. If you get to the next level, you’ll get the code to go back to this level. The benefit of using these codes is the fact that you can re-enter this level with a full compliment of 3 lives. This is probably the only time the game gives you any advantage at all – and it’s not exactly a huge advantage by any means.

As I was hinting at throughout the game, the big pitfall of this game was the difficulty. The game challenges you in the first level or two, then just plain insults you with how hard it is after this. I’ve lost count how many times I initiated an attack from a distance only to have a character like Sweet Tooth knock me forward with his special attack. Then, other characters bombard me wit power missiles. After that, someone hits me with a freeze and a couple of enemies finishes me off with their special attack. This may be annoying if it happens on occasion, but in my case, it was an all too common occurrence. Because of this, the game went from challenging to frustrating.

To make matters even more frustrating is the most commonly cited problem of the game – physics. There are plenty of times where the game will struggle to figure out where you belong in the game. Sometimes, your car will even vanish while the game glitches for a moment. Your opponents are often all too happy to take advantage of physics as they pelt you left and right with power missiles and ricochet weapons. There were even a few instances where my full meter of health proved to be worthless as I got hit with Axel’s special attack, then hit with several heat seeking missiles while still in the air. By the time I hit the ground, my meter was almost completely drained. I manage to travel barely a few inches before an enemy kills me off with napalm or machine gun fire.

Some of the strategies I’ve employed to get through some of these levels included concentrating weapons fire on the opponents that have guided special attacks. Knocking them out of the round as quickly as possible can make the level a little more survivable. Another strategy I employed was to just keep moving. Pelt the enemy with the odd attack, then run away before they get a chance to attack back. The viability of this strategy can be hit and miss because, eventually, every opponent in the level is just going to gang up on you or block off a choke point to much-needed health (i.e. the blown up Eiffel tower and waiting on the bridge to the rooftops after).

Generally speaking, there is a solid game underneath all of this. Unfortunately, frustratingly difficult levels and physics that are not only bad, but abused, obscured what enjoyment can be had in this game. The fact is, this game is tilted towards the enemies even with the three lives you get.

The graphics are definitely an improvement over the previous game. Unfortunately, other games have had their moment to shine during this year as well. Games like Wave Race 64 and Super Mario 64 blow this game out of the water on this front. That is not to say the graphics were terrible for a game of this era. They were fairly decent – especially for the Playstation. They just aren’t mind-blowing is all.

The audio is apparently a love or hate it scenario. Some people really enjoy it, but others really don’t like it at all, calling it cheesy. Personally, I agree with the former. The game is Twisted Metal. It’s supposed to convey a sort of bubbling insanity to some degree. The music worked quite well and served this purpose in my view. The music was also nicely varied this time around. Probably the only weakness was the sound effects in part because there were only two possible sounds when you blow up an opponent. The sound effects can be a bit repetitive with the only variances being the enemies special attacks. Even that can get a little repetitive after a while.

So, overall, this game does have a lot of interesting features. It has a number of improvements over the previous game which mainly revolved around level design. Unfortunately, the difficulty and exploited physics make this game quite frustrating. While codes and free lives means you have a remote chance at advancing in a reasonable fashion, it’s unlikely most players will ever really get to see any endings (I certainly wasn’t one of the lucky players). Instead, you’ll likely find yourself throwing the controller across the room in frustration long before you get to the end of the game. So, enjoy the novelties found in the game while you can. You’ll likely see yourself blown to bits sooner or later.

Furthest point in game: China Town with 4 enemies left (with codes). Monumental Disaster with 2 opponents left (without codes).

General gameplay: 15/25
Replay value: 7/10
Graphics: 7/10
Audio: 4/5

Overall rating: 66%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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