Twisted Metal (2012)

Welcome … to Twisted Metal!

The bulk of the presents that I get for any holiday are video games.  This is not a complaint, but an exclamation that my family at least partially “get me”.  This year was no different.  Though I did get a sweet watch from my sister, the other presents I got were all video games, and that’s alright by me.  Especially since it’s been so long since I actually reviewed a video game.  They often take so long that it ends up being difficult to do a more comprehensive review, and since I want to review one thing a day, I lean more towards the much easier to review movies.  But it turns out at least one of the games I got for my birthday was particularly easy to review, as I was able to finish the single player mode in little more than a day.  Let’s see how well my sister picked her second present in my review of Twisted Metal, directed by David Jaffe, produced by Scott Campbell, developed by Eat Sleep Play, and published by Sony Computer Entertainment.

The story focuses on three characters of the Twisted Metal franchise.  Sweet Tooth the Clown, Mr. Grimm the motorcycle rider, and former model Krista Sparks, now known as Dollface.  Each of these three characters is participating in the Twisted Metal tournament run by the powerful Calypso, the winner of the tournament getting one wish, regardless of value.  The murdering clown Sweet Tooth wants only to get another chance at “the one that got away”, his daughter Sophie, who escaped him when he started murdering his family after his split personality “Needles” took over the personality of the family man, Marcus Kane.  Mr. Grimm is the son of a motorcycle daredevil who died during one of his performances, leading to Grimm turning into a vicious killer and gang leader.  His wish will be to go back in time and warn his father, stopping the chain of events.  Krista Sparks is a famous supermodel who rises to fame with her beauty … and her violent tendencies towards anyone that might be more famous than her.  She gets into a car accident which damages her face, but after some surgeries gets it reduced to a tiny scar that her brain turns into a hideous, rotting wound.  She finds a doctor who is no longer allowed to practice and he gives her a white, doll mask that will return her beauty if she wears it for 6 days, but then it won’t come off.  She enters the tournament to regain her fame and beauty.  Of course, if you’ve played any of the Twisted Metal games, you can probably guess that these wishes will not turn out as they were expected to.  Also, there’s a crazy guy named “the Preacher” that is protesting Calypso, but that’s not very important.

I feel very torn about my feelings on this game.  It’s good and fun in parts, extremely irritating in parts, and the story was disappointing to me.  I’ll start with the story.  One of my favorite parts of the other Twisted Metal games was forcing myself to get through the stories of each individual driver to find out what happened.  The most disappointing thing about this game was that you only get to play as three different characters in the story mode, and only get to see the outcome for those three characters and maybe one more if you count the Preacher … which I don’t.  Sure, once they’re unlocked you can play in any vehicle you want as one of those three characters, but you’ll find pretty quickly that there’s very little need to switch your car.  Mr. Grimm’s Reaper motorcycle, the man in the giant wheels called Axel, and numerous fast vehicles will be destroyed in about 30 seconds.  From the start, if you’re smart, you’ll probably lean towards Sweet Tooth’s ice cream truck.  It can take a beating and dish it out, and also turn into a giant robot clown that served no purpose I could ascertain.  It’s the only way to go for the greater majority of the game, at least until you unlock the Juggernaut that takes massive damage and can deal instant kills with a good charge.  But, even though you can choose all the vehicles, you still only get to play as the 3 set characters.  It’s just so sad and disappointing!  It was never about the cars for me; I wanted to see the individual stories of each character.  It just seems so lazy to only give us the three.  Granted, the three that they give us are fairly good and extremely dark.  All three of the characters are mass murderers, so you expect them to be dark, but Sweet Tooth’s story is way dark.  Also, you expect Calypso to technically grant the wishes of the three characters, but to do so in a way that works against the characters.  What he did to Sweet Tooth and Grimm was pretty great and was almost unexpected, but what he did to Dollface was just stupid.  ::SPOILER ALERT::  She tells him that she wants to be on the “World’s Biggest Runway” and to be the center of attention.  That’s a strange way to say that, don’t you think?  But still, I have no idea how he could possibly take that out of context.  OH!  Runways are also things that planes land on!  Fuck you, game.  ::END SPOILERS::  One thing to remember about the story mode is that there are two credit sequences that are definitely worth watching, so make sure you stick around.  One of them introduces a character that I’d be really happy to play as, while the other one just brings back a character that was killed in the story, but it does so in a pretty cool way.

The game is SOMETIMES an enjoyable romp and brings you back to a day where vehicular battle games were some of the most fun you could have, especially if playing with your friends.  The enjoyment of destroying your enemies and even running over the drivers that run out of the wreckage on fire in order to replenish your health still exists, but is marred a bit by some frustrating situations and some odd decisions that pertain to the controls.  My first recommendation: play the tutorial!  It gets you a trophy and lets you know how to play a game.  It’s probably not the greatest thing that I’ve gotten so in the habit of the first level of any game being the developers holding your hand and leading you through the controls, but it’s a sad reality.  I had already beaten the game before I learned that you could drive in reverse.  I knew that it was PROBABLY an option, but not how to do it.  You can also apparently jump.  Who knew?  Certainly not me.  Other than that, it’s a pretty standard vehicular shooter, and that seems to be what they were going for.  They wanted to recapture as much of the original Twisted Metal games as they could, right down to the controls.  Left trigger shoots side arms, right trigger shoots main weapons, square to drive, X to hand brake, circle to brake, and double tap circle to reverse … for some reason.  That’s basically all you need to play.  You’ll still probably die, and die often.  I played it on normal and almost burned my house down on more than one occasion.  The greater majority of the fights – when it’s just you against the regular vehicles – are not that difficult, especially if you choose your vehicle well (meaning only Sweet Tooth and Juggernaut).  They also throw in some races which boil down to choosing Kamikaze and trying to destroy Crimson Fury until the time comes when you unlock Crimson Fury, and then it’s just about choosing Crimson Fury.  The fastest car wins the race, and that’s it.  None of this “Tortoise beats the Hare” bullshit.  The gate rule in the races pissed me off though.  You didn’t have to go through all of the gates, but if you missed 12 you’d blow up.  This wouldn’t be that difficult to stick to in a normal racing game, but this is a racing game where your enemies are really excited to smash into the side of your vehicle and shoot you from behind with missiles.  Many times would I be speeding towards a gate, only to get hit and knocked to the side, missing the gate and getting one step closer to death.  But that’s only a bit tedious.  The real annoyance of this game is any situation that involves the word “Juggernaut” without you driving it.  They’re giant diesel trucks that can take quite a beating, drop mines if you’re following, fire missile barrages if you’re too close, and spawn more enemies out of their rear ends every minute or two if you don’t take them out.  And it gets worse when every other character on the map has nothing else on their mind than your destruction.  I got the feeling that the developers decided it was a good idea, but never bothered to play it themselves.  If they had, I think they would have killed themselves and someone else would have removed it out of respect.  After you face them for the first time, you’re just happy to get through it.  Then they do it again, but this time there are two.  Then they do it again, but this time there are two and they’re even more powerful.  Fuck you, game!  The boss battles are less annoying than this!

It’s worth noting, if you can find it, that my game included the download code for the full version of their previous game: Twisted Metal Black.  That’s a really cool thing to do … assuming the game is not too difficult and so dated that I won’t deem it worth my time.  Unfortunately, that was the case with Twisted Metal Black.  With the PS3 version of Twisted Metal, I could force myself through my annoyances because the game wasn’t awful to look at.  What Twisted Metal Black does have going for it is the fact that THEY WROTE STORIES FOR ALL THEIR CHARACTERS!  …Jerks.

I’ve never played a Twisted Metal game on multiplayer before, at least beyond split-screening with my friends.  This game afforded me the opportunity to play Twisted Metal online.  I didn’t want to.  I don’t like multiplayer, but at least this game seems to suit it.  So I gave it a shot.  But I quickly encountered the same problem I always encounter when I try to play games on PS3 online: the online sucks.  If your game isn’t Call of Duty or Uncharted 3, no one’s playing.  I played one game of Deathmatch and then spent the next two hours waiting in various rooms for someone to start the match.  At this point, I’ve given up.  I didn’t even want to play it; I just wanted to be able to talk about the different modes.  Oh well.  I didn’t see the point to playing Deathmatch, so I don’t feel like I’m missing very much.  It felt exactly like playing the single player story mode, but the enemies were slightly more difficult and you only start off with three cars.  Why would I want to play this when I can just play single player with all of the cars already?  I wouldn’t, so I won’t.

For those of you interested in trophies, this is not a game I’d recommend.  I am a certified achievement/trophy whore, but I will not attempt the greater majority of the trophies in this game.  I had a hard enough time just completing the game, let alone doing so on the hardest difficulty and getting gold on every mission, or doing so without dying or switching your car.  Some of you may be able to do it.  Congratulations!  You’ve won nothing.

Twisted Metal is a nice spot of fun and a nice trip down memory lane, but it was not without its disappointments.  The story that they had was good, but their choice to only give 3 or 4 characters a story was lazy and disappointing.  The gameplay was fun, but there were some serious controller problems, even if you sat through the tutorial to learn the things you’d probably never figure out on your own, and many parts of the game were frustratingly difficult.  You can get Twisted Metal Black with some of the games, but I don’t know why you would.  Also, don’t get this game if you’re looking for easy achievements.  But, if you want to split screen with your friends, or you just miss a time when all a game needed was something for your ice cream truck to shoot at, this game isn’t bad.  Twisted Metal gets “Sometimes the mind can bend so far that it snaps in two” out of “What a waste.  All those people I hadn’t killed yet.”

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