Twisted Metal’s single player mode begins with Sweet Tooth entering the tournament for the chance at a granted wish from event proprietor Calypso. That wish? To find his daughter and kill her; she escaped from Sweet Tooth’s home rampage years ago.
It’s unclear how you’re supposed to feel about that, taking the demented clown onto the city streets, smashing through homes, and running over panicked pedestrians. It all seems quaint in comparison to the eventual outcome. There’s dark and there’s flat out inhumane, the latter more suited to Twisted Metal. Seeing it all come to life with graphic, glossy, damaged video makes it seem worse for the wear.
Maybe this is all representative of the title as whole, an ugly, unflinching, and unrelenting tale of reborn car combat. Industry dealings dictate expansion though, this latest reboot moving from the base concept of the franchise progenitor. Vehicular battles work best spread thin. After all, there’s a reason Twisted Metal has taken place in spacious suburbs or city centers. They allow room.
The forced idiocy here are checkpoint race events, mind-blowing in how they were conceived under the guise that 16 cars, all strapped with machine guns, would work in tandem when moving in the same direction. Not only is the skill removed almost in its entirety from the ones they game ought to push, so is the point. The tipsy, unwieldy physics are not conducive to precision, making the addition of checkpoints more mind-boggling.
It’s all part of Twisted Metal’s goal to destroy the player, the solo challenges so thin they encompass what amounts to an elongated tutorial. Without the videos to serves as anchors, there’s barely anything on these lonely, single gamer bones. No matter what it does, from boss battles to mode differentiation, Eat Sleep Play’s reboot collapses under a lack of content.
The shell remains at least. After all, no other racing and/or combat romp captures the essence of a Twisted Metal spin-out. Slamming on the breaks at full speed only to spin a full 180 creates an artificial veil of skill, enough to keep the move satisfying. The reality though lies in the controls, bunched up tightly as if the entirety of the PlayStation Dual Shock still isn’t enough to contain it. As a matter of fact, it’s not. There’s so much going on, including a rather meaningless transformation mode, buttons are forced into combinations or double taps.
At the core, this is a point-and-shoot mayhem generator, but mayhem here is overly convoluted, as if today’s gamer won’t grasp the joy in simplicity. Weirdly, for all of the work that has been poured into the menagerie of shooting options, everything else falls to the wayside. Twisted Metal has killed the character that originally sprung it to life, chopping the roster to place the likes of Mr. Grimm in a helicopter. That’s not the Mr. Grimm we’ve all come to know and love… well, not “love” in the literal sense. It’s rather difficult to love anyone here.
Anything the single player does, the multiplayer will do worse, firstly locked behind an unwarranted and unwanted online pass. No doubt it’s a shame, as the gaming world needs a break from the litany of online first-person headshot-a-thons clogging the market. David Jaffe handled this with Calling All Cars, but no one actually played it, so we end up here.
The sole idea worth noting is Nuke, turning the series into something that requires a shred of strategy, the off-set defensive and offensive runs changing little mechanically, but altering everything in terms of pacing. While a location defense seems quaint in online arenas, fitting this concept with nothing but vehicles is a radical departure from the norm.
Twisted Metal needs to exist, if not in this form. Complexity can hold communities together; it’s sort of a weird bonding agent when you have a game where everyone has to “get it.” What happens though is that small group begins to splinter, potential newcomers are turned off, and the whole project dies. That seems to be the likely future, the barrier of entry being that ludicrous single player that should serve to soften the online blow. Instead, Twisted Metal clumsily skips along on the merits of its uniqueness in the modern gaming palette, and that’s not enough.
Twisted Metal is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language.