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Twisted Metal: Head-On - Does it hold up?

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Here at GameZone, Twisted Metal is kind of a big deal. Seriously, after just playing the demo, we considered ourselves hooked and now that the game is out, you'll most likely find us destroying our opponents online. I'm an eager gamer, and didn't have the patience to wait for the game's release at the time unlike my fellow GameZone writers so I decided to get my Twisted Metal buzz another way: by playing another entry in the series.

I don't own a PSP, so it always bothered me that I couldn't play Twisted Metal: Head-On. The idea of a portable car combat game really appealed to me, and I wanted nothing more than to wreak havoc with that insane clown Sweet Tooth. I never did buy a PSP, but I did get my hands on the PlayStation 2 version of Head-On. And when I did, the game appropriately titled Twisted Metal Head-On: Extra Twisted Edition really managed to steal away any free time I may have had.

Twisted Metal: Black will always hold a very special place in my heart. It was dark, it was moody, and it was incredibly violent. It was great. Head-On, however, also deserves plenty of praise. The game is brighter, more colorful, and bit sillier than Black, but it still has that wonderful Twisted Metal spirit. There are a bunch of characters, each with their own stories, and they're all worthy of playing with just to see the insane antics of their respective storylines.

Of course, awesome stories or not, Twisted Metal wouldn't be Twisted Metal without rock solid car combat gameplay, tight controls, and stellar mechanics. Head-On is once again a perfect example that proves no one does car combat like Twisted Metal. Even with its colorful charm, the game feels gritty, scrappy, and underground. Yes, the characters and their respective stories are a bit wackier, but even then, Head-On is totally badass.

As far as controls are concerned, Head-On is a lot closer to the latest Twisted Metal for the PlayStation 3 than Black was. That said, the game still features button combinations to pull off energy attacks such as freeze blasts, mines, and shields. That's all fine and dandy, but after experiencing the intuitive nature of Twisted Metal's updated control scheme, the combination setup feels a bit dated and uninviting.

One of the main selling points of Head-On on the PlayStation 2 was its inclusion of extra content. The port included videos on the history of the series, the unreleased endings from the first game in the series (which are amazing and cheesy), and an extra mode called Twisted Metal: Lost. This mode featured the incomplete work from the supposed sequel to Black. While there are only four levels, they all exude that dark vibe that was so engrossing in Black, and they're a total blast to play.

Head-On looked great on the PSP, but its graphics never really stood out when they were blown up for the PlayStation 2. While the use of color is good, textures and models are blurry and polygonal almost to a fault. The music is fun to listen to, but it's not as impressive as the collection of themes in Black or the current Twisted Metal. Still, they add to the quirky style of this entry in the series, which goes in a slightly more humorous direction.

Head-On is still a great game, and it's an excellent precursor to Twisted Metal on the PlayStation 3. It's not as good as Black, but it holds up about the same. Maybe it's just my love for the series, but I don't find it hard in any capacity to recommend Head-On, even with a new entry upon us. The game is just so much fun, and it features some awesome and massive levels, that you're more than likely to enjoy it.

The verdict: Twisted Metal: Head-On is fun and frantic, and even with a new entry in the series, it's not difficult to tell you that this is a great game. The extras in the PlayStation 2 edition make that version of the game a must-play for fans of the series.

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