Am I the only one who truly appreciated the maniacal genius that David Jaffe and his team brought to Twisted Metal Black like a decade ago? Sure, the storyline was much more twisted, and the darker M-rated approach was quite the jolt for those who expected something along the lines of the original PS One games, but I thought it was a change for the better, with a lot more at stake and concentrated car combat like only Jaffe can provide. I’m sure there are fans out there who appreciate it as much as I do, and they’re the probably the ones who will get a kick out of the reboot that just arrived on PlayStation 3.
A sequel to Black this isn’t, but the new Twisted Metal has a lot in common with that game’s spirit. The single player tournament is about the same, letting you choose from one of three characters (including the criminally insane Sweet Tooth) and taking to a number of arenas, trashing everything in sight with missiles, guns and other great weapons. This time around, however, you have three cars instead of one, and can switch them out by gaining access to a garage located on the grounds. It’s a bit tricky getting there, and a well-timed missile can easily send you flying off course (even in a bigger vehicle, like Sweet Tooth’s default ice cream truck) but those are just the rules of the game.
Fortunately, the way vehicles handle, pinball physics aside, is excellent. You can make great drifting turns, letting you swivel around to put enemies in targeting range quite easily, and you can also maneuver around like a pro, even zooming around corners to get the jump on an opponent. There are times the targeting can be iffy, especially if you’re automatically locked on to someone who’s hiding behind a wall (we hate wasting missiles), but overall it’s about standard for Twisted Metal, which suits us just fine. The only real negative here is that the difficulty can be a beast. You thought Mario Kart was cheap? Try getting hit with five consecutive missiles in a row while you try to hunt down a heatlh regenerating truck. Ouch.
What’s more, there are new vehicles afoot. Although mixing in aerial vehicles in a Twisted Metal game might be unheard of (it should be about ground offense, right?), it makes a fine addition, as you can not only shoot at folks from above, but also grab them via a crane and throw them somewhere else on the battlefield. The mech is outstanding too, running around and trashing everything in its own way. It’s almost like Virtual On, but without the anime quirkiness and replaced with a Mad Max vibe. Which rocks.
The game isn’t just about single player either. Twisted Metal contains some very comprehensive multiplayer, including a series of match-ups that will have you and your fellow PlayStation Network buddies creating road rage well into the night. Our personal favorite is Nuke, a mode where you try to guide a slow-running missile past offenses while your team keeps everything running in one piece. On the defensive side, you’ll have opportunities to shoot it down (it runs slow), but you’ll need to watch out for other attacks. It’s insatiably addictive.