Let me be the first to admit, I've never been a Twisted Metal fan. Maybe it has to do with the fact that the original Twisted Metal released on the PlayStation in 1995, when I was only 10 years old. Honestly, the image of Sweet Tooth back then creeped me the hell out, so I stayed at arm's length from the car combat franchise. And while there have been a number of Twisted Metal titles released since that first game, I've never felt the urge to dive into the series, even after the point when I was comfortable seeing Sweet Tooth's demented face.
And now we're in 2012, with a brand new Twisted Metal launching for the PlayStation 3. The first Twisted Metal, mind you, since 2005. It's been a long time since we've seen Sony's longest running exclusive series, and I'm also a good bit older, now at the ripe age of 27 and writing about video games for a living. I have a different outlook on life, and I felt I owed it to Sony and developer Eat Sleep Play to finally dip my toes into the Twisted Metal pool to see if the water is as nice as everyone claims it to be.
Before I really get into what I like about the new Twisted Metal, I'm first going to cover the one thing I hate the most: its non-existent tutorial for newcomers. Maybe this was Eat Sleep Play's way to pay homage to classic gaming where you just picked up the controller and figured it out on your own, but here in Twisted Metal it makes the game a frustrating experience immediately upon firing it up. It's the worst kind of first impression, and for people like myself, those interested in the series for the first time, it's not a great way to burst out of the gates after your franchise has been absent since 2005.
However, if you slog through the game's opening matches in single player, you'll eventually pick up how to effectively play the game — I also recommend, for the first time in what seems like forever, actually thumbing through the game's manual to familiarize yourself with the controls. Getting used to how Twisted Metal plays is a cumbersome experience, for sure, but it proves rewarding once you've established a comfort zone.
I'm also pleasantly surprised that the folks at Eat Sleep Play managed to come up with a narrative to tie all the car carnage together. The story isn't going to win any awards, and from my understanding it only follows a select number of the grand Twisted Metal extended cast — Sweet Tooth, Dollface, Mr. Grimm and Preacher — but for what it is, it's pretty enjoyable in a B-movie sort of way. It's overly serious to the point of being comedic, but that's also part of it's charm.
As far as the vehicles are concerned (I feel like I should touch on them since this is a car combat title, after all), they are all very unique and responsive. Whether you're driving Sweet Tooth's truck or Grimm's motorcycle, or piloting the badass copter, all the rides in Twisted Metal have their own set of strengths and weaknesses, as well as their own unique special abilities. Although, I think Eat Sleep Play is clearly playing favorites with Sweet Tooth, since they gave his truck the ability to turn into a mech. That seems… unfair.
While it's admirable that Eat Sleep Play gave Twisted Metal a cohesive single player mode, the real meat and potatoes experience comes in the form of multiplayer, whether locally or online. This is where the game truly shines. Online matches are incredibly fun and frantic, and that's something I didn't think would happen, considering this genre has been effectively dead for close to a decade.
If you can find a few buddies to pick up copies of Twisted Metal alongside you, then you should find plenty to enjoy with this game. Twisted Metal is an experience best had in the company of real people, whether with strangers online or your closest friends on the same couch. Flying solo only gets you so far, and while the story mode is enjoyable popcorn entertainment, it's not what's going to keep this game spinning in your PlayStation 3. So call up some buddies and see if they have any desire to tear up roads in armored vehicles. If they do, then Twisted Metal is a safe bet. Otherwise, give this one a rental.