Twisted Metal: Black - Does It Hold Up?
In 2001, Twisted Metal: Black managed to take the car combat genre into the new generation of consoles at the time and deliver one of the most satisfying experiences ever conceived for gamers. The game took all of the elements that the Twisted Metal series was known for and it refined them greatly. Hell, to say it perfected them would be more fitting, because Twisted Metal: Black really was something special. It's been over 10 years since the launch of that game, and now developer Eat Sleep Play is prepping for the release of Twisted Metal on the PlayStation 3. Until that game's Valentine's Day launch comes, however, let's revisit Twisted Metal: Black and see if it's still outstanding in 2012.
In terms of actual mechanics, there's no denying that Twisted Metal: Black is still tight. The action is fast-paced, easy to get into, and totally addictive. The game was the optimal car combat game in 2001, and the argument can be made that it hasn't been topped. As far as gameplay is concerned, Twisted Metal: Black features the ultimate tropes for the genre. And I'm saying this having played Twisted Metal: Head-On, which was a stellar game in its own right.
The bulk of the time spent during my recent playthrough of Twisted Metal: Black was in the game's Challenge mode. I took on enemies in the game's many arenas, and I had a total blast. The game can be pretty tough if the difficulty is set to the higher levels, the environments are immersive, and action is explosive. This transitions smoothly into the Story and competitive multiplayer modes, and the nonstop insanity that the game has to offer is completely visceral and satisfying.
As awesome as the game still plays, though, there are a few aspects that aren't very relevant in 2012. For starters, the game only has local multiplayer. Personally, I enjoy getting together with buddies and engaging in some heated multiplayer action. Twisted Metal: Black is exactly the type of game that you can fire up when you've got a group of friends, pizza, chips, and sodas at the ready. That said, without an included online component, the multiplayer is indeed dated.
Additionally, while the game's cutscenes look great and sport hi-res images and cinematics, the in-game graphics are totally 2001. Personally, I don't have much of a beef with the visual design, and I really think the graphics do a good job given the massive environments, but the more finicky gamers may not enjoy the game's visual presentation all that much. At least the dark environments are still incredibly creepy. That's something that really resonated with me the first time I played Twisted Metal: Black, and I still get completely engrossed in the ambiance of the game's world.
Going hand in hand with the dark vibe is a superb soundtrack. The music in Twisted Metal: Black is often action-oriented and at times chilling. The tunes do a great job of getting you pumped as you control one of several lunatics and murder your opponents one by one. There's also some magnificent voice acting in the game's Story mode, and it's hard not to get lost in the many tales that this game so boldly tells as you frequent the inmates of the Blackfield Asylum.
It's hard to find much fault in Twisted Metal: Black from a gameplay standpoint. There's really nothing wrong with how this game plays, even after over 10 years. The core mechanics are still impressive, and there's plenty sprinkled throughout the entire package to keep you hooked. The Story mode gives you a reason to play as every character, and watching your insane driver's story unfold is equal parts captivating and eerie. There are hidden items that unlock features and characters. And the multiplayer, though strictly local, is crazy addictive. (Of course, there's always Twisted Metal: Black Online, but I'm certain that's obsolete by now.)
The main issue with Twisted Metal: Black is in its graphical presentation. The game looked great in 2001, but it's not exactly a powerhouse these days. This is an early PlayStation 2 generation title, and it shows. Of course, if you're willing to look past that and focus more on the rock solid gameplay, you're bound to have a good time. Would I recommend purchasing Twisted Metal: Black? Sure, why not? I mean, you can get the game for, like, three bucks online, and it's still a lot of fun. Plus, the new Twisted Metal won't be launching until February 14, so we've still got a bit of a wait. If anything, I would recommend that gamers new to the series check it out to get a true history lesson and a great car combat game to boot.
The verdict: Twisted Metal: Black may not look very pretty, but it's still one hell of a car combat title. It's crazy how fun this game is. Even after 10 years, it hasn't been topped and provides the best gaming experience in its genre.