previews\ Feb 2, 2012 at 5:45 pm

Twisted Metal demo impressions


As everybody should be aware by now, the Twisted Metal demo is available on PlayStation 3 -- sort of.

After the demo released on PSN two days ago, many users have been experiencing "matchmaking errors" when attempting to connect to the online multiplayer portion.  As tempted as I was to just include this image and conclude my "demo impressions" because this has been how I've spent the majority of my time, I was fortunate enough to actually experience a portion of the online multiplayer when the demo first released.  Thankfully, the fun I had playing the game for the short period outweighed the frustration of not being able to play it since, and I've decided to actually give my impressions.

So if you are one of the many who haven't yet been able to experience Twisted Metal, then hopefully this helps. 

First off, let me just say, the game is a ton of fun.  After a 10-year layoff from the Twisted Metal franchise, this new game is a breath of fresh air.  From the second I booted it up, the game's hardcore metal soundtrack and grit sent me into destruction mode.  The music has sort of a 90s edge to it, reminding me of the fun I had with the original Twisted Metal and Twisted Metal 2.  Unfortunately, I didn't have adequate time with Twisted Metal Black, so I can't really comment on that game -- but I hear the controls are awfully similar.

One thing I do miss are the days when the individual car represented an individual character.  With no story mode in the demo, I can't comment on it, but I will say I'm not a fan of this whole "clowns" vs "dolls" vs "skulls" thing; although, I am willing to give it a chance.  It could turn out that I end up enjoying the story -- despite what Jaffe may have said.

Single-player Challenge Mode, which has been the only mode many have been able to play, is extremely difficult, though game director David Jaffe did say the AI in the release version is toned down.  Challenge mode pits you against AI-controlled bots to basically give you a taste of the multiplayer mode.  It's a fun teaser of what you could do online -- had it been working.  In the demo, you are only given one life, which makes it extremely difficult to complete.  However, it is possible to beat when you fully utilize the various health pickups located on the map.  In short, it's a challenging, fun way to get acclimated with the game.

The game has obviously changed quite a bit from my past days with the franchise, but it uniquely blends new elements with the gameplay I grew up with.  Obviously, you have your typical weapon and health pickups, as well as a health truck that you can drive through to regen.  Weapons include homing missiles, ricochets, napalm, etc.  One thing I don't remember from the originals is the auto-targeting.  Though different then what I remember, it's a welcomed change.  While it helps, it doesn't necessarily mean you will automatically hit with every weapon.  The targeting is more of a guide than anything.

In the demo, you can play as several cars including Darkside, Outlaw, Death Warrant, Vermin, Talon, Crimson Fury, Reaper, and my personal favorite, Meat Wagon.  Each car features unique stats in Armor, Speed, and Special Weapon.  As you can guess, the quicker, speedier cars have less armor.  My personal preference is the middle of the road cars like Meat Wagon and Outlaw.  I find the lack of armor with Reaper leads to almost instant death, despite his high damage output and fast speed.

Despite the differences in the cars, one thing is the same for all of them -- they drive smoothly.  Twisted Metal has some of the smoothest, fluid handling I've seen in a game.  Despite all of the chaos ensuing, I've never felt more in control.  It accurately picked up my movements allowing me to perform crisp turns and on-the-fly stunts like spinning around and firing at the enemy behind me.

Which brings me to my next point, once an enemy is behind you, it is extremely difficult to get them off.  This may change in the full version, but the AI tends to stick on you pretty well.  Thankfully, in-game features like the ability to shoot behind you and perform sharp 180 turns allows you to blast the enemy from out behind you.

Obviously, multiplayer is where the game is meant to be played, but due to the matchmaking errors, a whole lot of people aren't able to experience it.  Unfortunately, this has led some to completely write off the game.  Well, let me tell you, WAIT for it to work because it is definitely worth the wait.

Multiplayer is everything you could want in a Twisted Metal game -- pure chaos, explosions, and mayhem.  I stuck to Deathmatch mode, or every man for himself, in my time with the demo.  I can't begin to tell you how much fun it was.  You know when someone attempts to retell a story, but it just isn't as funny when it isn't the original source?  That's how I feel about Twisted Metal.  I could sit here and tell you how crazy the game matches were, but it's just something you have to experience.

After shaking off the rust, I had some pretty close, competitive matches.  Usually, after eight minutes of Deathmatch gameplay, the top positions usually come down to the final seconds making it an intense finish every time.  There were times at the end of the match where all the cars would be in the center of the map blasting away at each other.  True Twisted Metal chaos.

One complaint I do have, however, is the point calculating system.  I'm not sure of the exact system they use to calculate points, but I can't help but think I was shafted in a few games.  I understand that getting the killing blow doesn't necessarily mean more points, and maybe this is just my competitive juices flowing (Twisted Metal does this to a person), but looking at two recent games I can't understand how I placed 2nd.

Check them out below, I'm the player "Mel_Run".

Know that I am not complaining, but rather perplexed by the scoring system.  Here I have 3 more kills, 4 less deaths, and 1 less assist than the winner and yet I'm 150 points below.  I thought maybe it was that he did more damage, but in another game I had 2 less kills, the same amount of death, and 3 more assists with more damage, and yet I fall 150 points short again.

Jaffe, if you are reading this, please explain.

I can't begin to express how much fun I had in my short time with Twisted Metal.  I think the fact that I only had a taste of it makes me want more. To put it simply, Twisted Metal is a great experience that everyone with a PS3 should at least demo.

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