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Questionable Additions/Removals That Deter From Longstanding Strengths
on February 28, 2012
Twisted Metal (2012) is based on a great franchise with excellent core gameplay. However, this newest release tries to apply an assortment of mode variations (taken from FPS and racing games) with questionable results.
Instead of being able to choose from a macabre cast of characters (as in past titles) you find yourself tied to (3) players: Sweettooth, Mr.Grimm, and Dollface (which are unlocked in that order). Each character has (3) 2-3 min movies that blend live-action and CGI to great effect, even though the middle cinematic is partially relegated to flashbacks from the original video.
Combat and vehicle handling are tight. Weapons are varied and mostly balanced, and the helicopter Talon is actually pretty fun to use. As a result, online play can be enjoyable if you select the right matches and modes. However, in an attempt to add variety, the modes too often stray from what is fun.
Once vehicles have been unlocked by a character's gang they can be used during other matches. It seems kind of odd to use Sweettooth on Mr.Grimm's motorcycle, or to drive Shadow with Dollface - but that's what you'll find. (Axel is only playable as DLC). The good part is that you can use your favorite car in almost every level. However, the PROBLEM is that the new level designs almost force you to select certain cars to proceed in single player or be competitive online.
Ultimately, you end up choosing what works best for certain scenarios and less of who you would LIKE to play as. Twisted Metal was always a car combat game built around single elimination death matches. The new game changes that, and not necessarily for the better. On the rooftops there will be an inordinate number of people using the helicopter Talon.
Likewise, in checkpoint races everyone will choose Kamikaze or Crimson Fury (paint variations of the fastest vehicle). Here you must beat your opponents to certain destinations without missing too many gates. The problem is that this is NOT Mario Kart, or Blur where weapons will knock people off the track. In those games, any vehicle has a CHANCE to win. In this game Crimson Fury or Kamikaze will ALWAYS win. Unless you choose one or the other, you have absolutely no chance of winning. Missles and even special moves (with the exception of the magnet) will never knock the cars off of their path. In addition, going through checkpoints replenishes health.
Cage Matches force you to do battle in certain sections of a level surrounded by lighted green grids. If you stay outside the grid for too long, you take damage. The problem is that vehicles with less health/shields will usually die if you are not concentrating on making your way back into the "cage" at EVERY given moment. Less shields = more damage = death if you get lost enroute. I finally beat these levels with Mr. Grimm, but only because his special move does an insane amount of damage once you charge it up (160) and I killed each car with two direct hits and no misses. This does NOT work online with skilled players. Most people end up selecting the same tougher vehicles.
Other levels have Juggernaut trucks that endlessly respawn enemies. You must either destroy them and all the other vehicles on the map, or continue killing cars until you have reached a quota. This is more frustrating than fun, since it offers little opportunity to search levels for new weapons or ammo. Instead, you must destroy everything as quickly as possible and hope your vehicle spawns in a good location.
Throughout the 18 levels or so of single player there are only 2-3 REAL deathmatch battles. Ultimately this is where I feel most disappointed. Twisted Metal is NOT a FPS. Capture the flag (with gang leaders you return to a missle launcher), races, and cage matches really do not do the game mechanics justice. Combine that with a limited number of characters and cinematics, and I feel somewhat let down.
So, all in all - the core mechanics are still great. Graphics have low textures, but are still manageable. The 9 cinematics are well done (although more would have been welcome), and the helicopter is a decent addition to gameplay.
Yet aside from VERY SPECIFIC online modes, a lot of this game just isn't as fun as previous entries. The bottom line is that most of the new modes do not work in context. I wish this had been a game that played to the strengths of the series without trying to revolutionize the core gameplay.
Twisted Metal is probably still a game worth buying, but I ABSOLUTELY recommend waiting until the price goes below $30.