Those of you old enough to remember the original PlayStation (Jesus, that makes us feel old) will no doubt have fond memories of the first Twisted Metal title. Released in 1995, it was a breath of fresh air to many console gamers, merging as it did the dual disciplines of racing and blowing the crap out of your opponents. While it was a little limited technically, it set the stage for a number of top class follow ups and built itself a hell of a cult following that has followed through to the modern day.
The original was followed by three sequels on the PlayStation before 2001 saw the release of what many still consider to be the defining moment of the series, Twisted Metal: Black. Somewhat appropriately, given the title of the game, Black took the series down a much darker avenue. The atmosphere was cranked up and the stylised comic book visuals of the first games in the series were abandoned for a much more serious tone – well, about as serious as you can get given the subject matter.
After a couple of PSP titles and a final PlayStation 2 title, Twisted Metal: Head-On: Extra Twisted Edition, in 2008 – curiously released long after the system had been superseded by the PS3, things suddenly went quiet on the Twisted Metal radar. Despite the fact that many claimed that it would be the perfect fit for the online enabled PS3, it didn’t look like any announcement was forthcoming until E3 last year, where the game was announced to the world.
Despite the fact that the game isn’t slated for release until February of next year, we had the chance to sit down and get stuck into it recently, and we were more than a little impressed with what we saw.
It was fitting that a title so focussed on the multiplayer side of things should be demoed by virtue of an extravagant 8 player setup complete with burning barrels and smashed up vehicles, so we were more than keen to jump right in to see how the game feels so far. In short, it feels really bloody good. While those of you coming from more recent racers may be a little bit perplexed initially by the fact that accelerate and brake have both been relegated from their usual trigger positions back to the face buttons, things actually come together quite nicely once you have adapted.
Weapons, both primary and secondary, are fired using your rear triggers, while the all important handbrake adorns the X button, making tight manoeuvres a piece of cake. With a choice of 10 vehicles available to us, we took the safe approach and opted for Death Warrant, a tooled up Ford Mustang, in our first game. With a rail gun and missiles available from the armoury, we wasted no time in getting stuck into the carnage.
Despite the fact that the maps are huge, and we do mean HUGE, things never feel overwhelming, and it’s always easy to find where you need to be in order to get involved. The real beauty of the maps isn’t their size though, but the fact that they’re layered so expertly, making just as much use of the vertical as the horizontal – something that comes in quite handy should you choose the Talon helicopter as your weapon of choice.
The gameplay itself changes up quite regularly, with on-screen pop-ups telling you what you need to do at any given time. During our hands on time we were tasked with protecting members of our team, attacking the opposition, destroying opposition statues and much more. It’s every bit as fast paced as you’ll remember from the glory days of old, and thanks to the additional power of the PS3 it looks gorgeous, hurtling along without so much as a dropped frame (although we have yet to see it in action using the four player split-screen mode, so we can’t comment on how well that runs).
Based on this showing, and the fact that there are still four-odd months of development time left, we are positive that this is going to be one of the early hits of next year. We’ll keep you up to date on the game’s progress as it heads towards its February launch.