It’s been a long time since the last proper Twisted Metal game, Twisted Metal: Black – over ten years in fact. And you might be forgiven for thinking that this long-awaited PS3 debut for the series is more of a reboot, a remake or a throwback to the Twisted Metals of old, given its back to basics name. But no. Weird as it may seem, Twisted Metal picks up almost exactly where Black left off, and answers all enquiries as to where the hell it’s been and what the hell it’s been doing with an indifferent shrug.
At first, Twisted Metal’s ‘like you just stepped out of 2001’ attitude is jarring. It doesn’t matter how far you go back with this series, by now you’ll be used to playing both driving and shooting games with sticks and triggers. So playing a driving-shooting game using a system that was designed before sticks and triggers were the norm feels very weird. There are alternative control set-ups on offer, but the fact is that the classic configuration actually works best once you get back into it. Trouble is, this isn’t actually the classic configuration. It’s been changed – unnecessarily and for the worse.
The problems are in how turbos and, worse still, reversing are mapped to double-tapping face buttons. It’s stupid and unintuitive and you can’t customise your controls button by button, which is a big oversight.
Still though, control issues aside, Twisted Metal is fun. And it’s fun in exactly the same anarchic, rough shod way it used to be. Despite appearances to the contrary, this is a game of skill and strategy and remains immensely satisfying as a result. It’s not nailed the formula quite as squarely as Twisted Metal: Black did, but it is close.
But ‘nearly as good as Twisted Metal: Black’ isn’t really good enough ten years later unless you’re offering something new, and the biggest draw of Twisted Metal on PS3 is that a series that has always felt perfect for online multiplayer is finally getting a chance to shine on a decent online gaming platform. It’s infuriating then that Twisted Metal’s online components feel as old-fashioned as the rest of it.
Did you know it’s now possible to boot up a videogame and be playing a suitable online match within a minute or two? This is a development that has apparently passed Eat Sleep Play by, and ‘playing’ Twisted Metal online is a frustratingly slow process whereby getting into the match you actually want is a real struggle. Even if it weren’t for the frequent network errors and connection drops, it’s frustrating to see that lessons taught by modern online games (for example, that it’s best not to give the host any decisions to make in public matches) have been ignored, and that there are some serious balancing issues.
Disappointing after such a long wait then, even if Twisted Metal is still immensely good fun at its core.