Twisted Metal: Head-On – PSP – Review

Because you
like your metal to be twisted, and your games to be good. Because no
multiplayer-enabled console should launch without a frantic,
shoot-everything-in-sight vehicular combat game. And because Sony knows we
love the Twisted Metal series, the PSP lands on planet Earth with a game that
doesn’t seem so alien.

Metal: Head-On is a port/remake of the PS2 version. None of it feels entirely
ported over, but very little of it feels entirely new. I’m not complaining
though. Twisted Metal has always been Twisted Metal, AKA vehicular combat at
its best.

Blasting the
player with everything its got, Head-On comes fully loaded with 10 levels and
over 12 psychotic drivers to control. The environments are big, gritty, and
highly destructive. Newcomers will missile everything in sight as a result of
their lacking skills, while series veterans will missile everything out of
joy, curiosity, or both. You never know what might blow up. You never know
when a bomb will unintentionally take out an enemy in the process.

Metal is loved for its multiplayer, but the single-player experience of
Head-On is very rewarding. The standard battles aren’t too nightmarish, but
the boss battles are quite a challenge. They’re a big step up from the regular
enemies, each of which has a life meter similar to yours. Bosses, however, may
have several hit points that must be struck before their energy meter (force
field?) can be penetrated. It took me more than a couple of tries to take down
the first boss. Blame it on the few hours I’ve spent with the series (prior to
Head-On I hadn’t played a TM game in over a year). Or blame it on my twisted
meddling with other games (Tekken 5 needs my dedication).

The location
of the boss’ weak points are particularly challenging, forcing players to use
a little more thought than they would expect from a vehicular combat game. "It
has weak points all over its body, from top to bottom. I shoot and shoot, but
my homing missiles aren’t doing anything!" Then you realize that if you
shifted into reverse and quickly accelerated, the boss wouldn’t have time to
turn his vehicle around before you could get a shot off.

Now that
those hot spots have been hit, you notice one final target: the roof of the
boss’s vehicle. It’s not the easiest weapon to use, but Napalm is your best
(and perhaps only) way to hit the roof. It’s also a great weapon for damaging
multiple enemies at a time. Napalm is thrown forward, reaching long distances
very quickly. It’ll explode on impact, but there’s a smirk to be had if you
pull the trigger as it flies through the air. It’ll explode, leaving a nice
trace of destructive goodness, harming everything in its path (including you
if you’re not careful).

includes all the other Twisted Metal favorites: a weak machine gun with
unlimited ammo, homing missiles, fire missiles, power missiles, ricochet
discs, remote bombs and swarm missiles.

The coolest
weapons are those that belong to each individual character. Warthog fires a
cluster of missiles that are more powerful than any of the standard pick-ups.
Twister creates a tornado that whirlwinds the crap out of anyone who gets
sucked into it. Mr. Slam, a deadly-looking construction vehicle, will pick up
and slam the player who’s foolish enough to drive near him when he’s got his
special attack loaded.

Learning how
and when to use each of these weapons is a fairly difficult task, one that I
look forward to every time a new Twisted Metal game comes out. It’s the
vehicular combat equivalent of a fighting game. Though not as deep, Head-On’s
characters have individual gameplay qualities that must be mastered both as a
player and as an opponent. It’s okay to dislike a character, but if you don’t
learn his or her traits, you might as well throw in the towel now and save
yourself some embarrassment.

Chances are
you will dislike one of the characters, if not several of them. Twisted
Metal’s storyline has never been lighthearted. On PSone and PS2 it seemed to
get darker and more demented with every sequel. Head-On’s characters are more
about freedom and survival. Captain Jamie Roberts wishes to stop the contest,
putting an end to Calypso’s curses. Simon Whittlebone, a cranky architect who
died after falling from the top of his biggest tower, wants to win the
competition so that he can get back to Earth. Mortimer Scharf accepts the fact
that he’s dead, but needs to win in order to rest in eternal peace. Some drunk
kids dug up his grave. He’s been awake and miserable ever since.


we’re all awake and miserable. It’s late. You’ve got work or school in the
morning and you just can’t sleep. What to do? Reach for the best night light a
gamer could ever ask for: PSP. Fire up Twisted Metal: Head-On, and turn those
boring, toss-and-turn moments into something you’ll end up looking forward to.
If your parents want to know why you’re turning in so early, you could always
tell them that your girlfriend is spending the night. When they see the room
is empty they’ll assume she took off, allowing you to continue your obsession
without being interrupted.

Scoring Details

for Twisted Metal: Head-On

Gameplay: 9.0
Twisted Metal:
Head-On is like an all-you-can-eat buffet at your favorite restaurant. There
are delicious delicacies (vehicles) everywhere in sight. You can get a side of
mashed potatoes (weapons), 10 all-natural chicken strips (environments), or go
straight for the dessert (boss battles). Whatever your desire, Twisted Metal:
Head-On is here to satisfy your taste buds.

Graphics: 8.5
Large-scale 3D
environments and noteworthy explosion effects. Not on par with the PS2’s
visuals, but that won’t stop anyone from saying, "I can’t believe I’m playing
this game on a handheld!"

Sound: 8.0
Vehicular sounds
and Twisted Metal music.

Difficulty: Med/Hard
It seemed like a
walk in the park … then the boss came in, huffing and puffing, yelling and
screaming, demanding his way or else. "Or else what?" Or else game over for
you. Of course, if he gets his way it’s still game over. Better start
practicing. Human relations can’t help you with this management problem.

Concept: 8.0
A no-brainer.
Head-On is high on quality, high on replay value, and high on multiplayer

Multiplayer: 9.0
Why-Fi? Without
it, you can’t play against five deadly real-life opponents. LAN or online play
available, ensuring a long lifespan for the game.

Overall: 9.0
Wipeout Pure is
the number-one reason to buy a PSP. On March 24th, Twisted Metal: Head-On will
be number two. Head-On is the first top-of-the-line multiplayer game designed
for a handheld. It’s vehicular combat at its finest. It’s satisfying, but will
leave you hungry for another bite.