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The DTOID Show: Max's Twisted Metal Review


Feb 14
// Max Scoville
One of this week's biggest, and most anticipated releases is Twisted Metal. Jim Sterling's a die-hard fan of the series, and he gave his thoughts on the newest iteration in his review right here. On the other hand, I've neve...

Review: Twisted Metal

Feb 14 // Jim Sterling
Twisted Metal (PlayStation 3)Developer: Eat Sleep PlayPublisher: Sony Computer EntertainmentReleased: February 14, 2012 MSRP: $59.99 Although almost every Twisted Metal game exists within its own narrative bubble, this freshest iteration is as close to a full reboot as the series can get. The large cast of colorful characters, each with their own sick goals and personalized vehicles, has been tossed entirely out of the window in favor of one unified storyline. There are only four main characters -- Sweet Tooth, Mr. Grimm, Dollface and Preacher (who doesn't have his own story levels) -- all of whom are totally reimagined as darker and, dare I say it, slightly more grounded characters. At least, as grounded as a demonic serial killer clown can get. Their tales intertwine as they each sequentially enter the Twisted Metal tournament, hoping to win their ultimate wish from the nefarious Calypso -- and suffer an ironic fate in the process.  There is still a large variety of cars, although they are now operated by generic "gang" members inspired by the four named drivers. Familiar rides such as Sweet Tooth's ice cream truck and heavily armored Warthog are joined by such unique vehicles as the Meatwagon (a bloodstained ambulance that fires explosive patients strapped to remote-controlled gurneys) and the Junkyard Dog (a pickup truck that flings entire taxis at opponents). While many cars are unlocked during the course of campaign play, some of the more elusive rides will take momentous feats to obtain, such as completing all the story challenges on Twisted difficulty ... and getting a gold medal in every one! Each car can also be given a custom paint job, for that all-important personal touch.  At its root, the familiar combat of Twisted Metal remains almost entirely intact. Whether you've been a longtime follower of the series or haven't touched it in years, the steel butchery on offer is instantly recognizable. A variety of wide-open arenas are designed wonderfully for exaggerated destruction derby gameplay, as players fire rockets, lay mines, and rattle off machine gun fire in a bid to take down the opposition. Although the premise of cars shooting rockets at other cars is as shallow as ever, there's still plenty of rough-and-ready amusement to be had.  Each course is littered with weapon pickups, be they homing missiles, remote-controlled bomb carts, or deadly shotguns. Although each vehicle gets a permanent sidearm (such as a simple machine gun or a drive-by magnum), the expendable main weapons do far more damage. Cars also have unique special weapons that slowly recharge with time and vary in effectiveness. The Outlaw, for example, sports an SUV gun turret that locks onto a single enemy within a 360-degree radius, while the Roadboat features a magnet that can be used to trap an opponent and smash it into a wall (this trick in particular is an online troll's dream). One of the biggest new additions is the series' first flying vehicle, a helicopter known as Talon. Impressively, the helicopter does not break the game, as most weapons still lock onto it adequately and it remains fragile enough to be taken down in a few hits.  Car balance overall is quite remarkable. Smaller cars are great at avoiding incoming fire, but they're naturally frail, while larger machines such as Darkside and Juggernaut can deal heavy damage while struggling to keep track of sleeker, more maneuverable foes. My personal favorite class is the "middle ground" type that includes such beasts as the Outlaw and Meatwagon, sporting less-than-average speed but decent armor ratings and firepower. Whatever way one prefers to dish out an automotive assault, there's a car that does the trick. Unfortunately for Twisted Metal, the game spends far too much of its time trying not to do the one thing it's truly great at. This is evident in the single-player campaign, which is annoying at best and excruciatingly nightmarish at worst. Aside from the fact that playing against the CPU isn't much fun in the first place, the range of forced, gimmicky game modes that one must suffer in order to progress ruins the entire experience. By far the greatest offenders are the racing stages, which simply do not work. None of the courses are designed well enough for races, nor are the cartoonish car physics that see vehicles spinning wildly at the slightest clip. In a multiplayer scenario, this could be amusing, but in a solo race against aggressive A.I. that trains all enemy vehicles on the human player, it's nothing short of an ordeal. During races, enemy drivers are concerned only with making sure you don't win, even at their own expense. They'll fire weapons at nobody but you -- even firing behind themselves -- and they have no issue with running you off the road and into a wall, merrily sacrificing their position in the race to screw over a human player. Add to that the fact that it's almost impossible to catch up to the front-runner should one run afoul of the many chasms and obstacles, and one has a recipe for distilled, controller-destroying fury.  Much of the racing revolves around trial and error; players are expected to fail dozens of times in order to learn every inch of the racetrack. Even arming oneself with such knowledge might not be good enough, however, and I'm certain that only the lucky will beat the penultimate race on the first, second, or third try. I'm yet to do it, thanks to the random clipping and pitfalls that effectively kill the race before it's officially over. It's far too much patience than one should be expected to have. All this is before I mention the lengthy boss fights, which often require pure luck in order to complete. Such battles are not what one plays Twisted Metal for, and they ruin the experience. I'm all for variety and new ideas, but only if they're done well. In this game, they're forced, contrived, and slapdash. It saddens me that the campaign is so miserable, as its live-action story cutscenes and stylish, twist-in-the-tale storytelling are both fantastic. The grisly narrative arcs of Twisted Metal's grotesque anti-heroes are delightful, especially for someone who has always enjoyed the series' dark humor. Not only that, but every woeful tale feels like an episode of The Twilight Zone or Tales from the Crypt, which only adds to the entertainment value. Unfortunately, the narrative isn't quite good enough to justify the hassle it takes to uncover. Still, I'll say one thing for the campaign: those who think games are too easy these days can look forward to all their masochistic dreams coming true thanks to this little fiasco.  Fortunately, Twisted Metal's draw is not found in the campaign and its range of forced, unenjoyable game modes. My desire to kick the game's Blu-ray into a river dissipated with extended time spent online. I didn't play as much as I would've liked to, thanks to a disconcerting number of network errors, but I had a blast with the games I got into.  There is a range of game modes that keep the focus on simple, unfettered, 16-player car combat, and these modes can provide enough entertainment to make up for other failures. Deathmatches and team deathmatches are joined by elimination rounds and "Hunted" games that play out like a brutal, murderous game of tag.  Nuke is a new objective-based mode that has teams capturing an enemy leader and dragging them across the streets to a missile launcher. After "sacrificing" the leader to the launcher, a nuclear missile is sent to destroy an enemy statue. Enemy teams can recapture the leader and stop the sacrifice, so teamwork is essential in order to secure victory. It's a unique little spin on familiar competitive ideas, and should add a little longevity to the proceedings.  For those who don't like going online, there's great news -- LAN and split-screen multiplayer is also supported, so there's no excuse to not ditch the rubbish single-player and play the far superior competitive modes. While it's not the most graphically stunning PS3 game, Twisted Metal's destructible environments, squishy pedestrians and over-the-top, catapulting explosions at least make it one of the more visually exciting. An excellent soundtrack featuring tracks from Iggy Pop, White Zombie, Judas Priest, and Wolfmother complements the action wonderfully. When it comes to presentation and sheer, unabashed style, Eat Sleep Play has got it going on.  I did notice, however, that a few glitches reared their ugly heads occasionally. The sound can cut out suddenly for several seconds at a time, and I had one problem with a campaign elimination match that wouldn't spawn the final car I needed to defeat. I had to restart the mission about three or four times before all the enemies finally appeared on the map. So far, I've encountered nothing that truly breaks the game, but there are a few technical hiccups on display.  When it sticks to what it's good at, Twisted Metal provides plenty of homicidal -- if rather disposable -- entertainment. A number of modes and forced campaign levels that simply don't work, however, set the experience back, and I think that the game could have been truly superb had less effort gone into the failed aspects and more been poured into the type of Twisted Metal that fans know and love. For all its shortcomings and lack of depth, however, there really is no other car combat game that has the goods quite like Twisted Metal. It's a solid entry in a series that's difficult to hate, and hardcore destruction fans would do well to pick it up. 
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Twisted Metal 2 is one of the greatest videogames to ever grace the original PlayStation, and that's an undeniable scientific fact. Though my personal relationship with the series has been a spotty affair, my love for TM2's i...

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Twisted Metal dev hit with layoffs, David Jaffe leaving


Feb 07
// Jim Sterling
[Update: Jaffe has responded to today's news, confirming that layoffs were had, but addressing talk of casual development by saying, "I have zero plans to make games like FARMVILLE and ANGRY BIRDS. I never said what I was doi...
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David Jaffe invites YOU to a Twisted Metal Tournament!


Jan 27
// Jesse Cortez
Upon the news that a new Twisted Metal game was coming out, many gamers couldn't wait to sink their sweet teeth into it. Well, if you live in or near San Francisco, you will have the opportunity to check out this game next...

Twisted Metal: A different kind of multiplayer game

Dec 19 // Samit Sarkar
Twisted Metal (PlayStation 3) Developer: Eat Sleep Play Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment Release: February 14, 2012 In the hour or so that I spent with Twisted Metal, I kept noticing one aspect of the combat: it can take a pretty long time to kill someone. That’s not an accident, according to the Sony producer who demoed the game for me. He explained that the design decision was a result of Jaffe’s dislike of the pace in most multiplayer shooters -- the series co-creator isn’t a fan of the endless spawn-die-spawn cycle. In those games, it doesn’t take many bullets to kill you, and firefights rarely last long. Twisted Metal, on the other hand, offers a much higher degree of “survivability,” said the producer. You’re going to have to work for a kill, but the designers believe that increased survivability only makes the game more thrilling. Here, combat is “all about the chase,” which, I guess, makes sense for a game featuring vehicular mayhem. In addition, the folks at Eat Sleep Play are hoping that longer lives will help to reduce the amount of frustration that new players have to endure while learning the ropes. That decision makes a lot of sense, since it will likely take more than a few hours to understand Twisted Metal’s chaos. Multiplayer is the focus of this game, and it’s clear that Eat Sleep Play is devoting a great deal of development time to important facets such as balancing vehicles’ abilities and tweaking weapon damage, but the modes and options are so numerous and varied that I found myself overwhelmed during the demo. Jaffe has likened Twisted Metal to a fighting game, and the comparison seems apt -- I don’t have any understanding of the minutiae of fighting games, and it’s impossible for me to have fun with them unless I’m playing someone who’s just as clueless. The depth here is staggering; with such a steep learning curve, it’s important for the game to teach newbies well, and ensure that they can have fun, too. You can outfit vehicles with an arsenal of your choosing. Each car has two special attacks, in addition to its standard firepower. A high degree of destructibility means that level geometry is always in flux. Some of the cars are better used as support vehicles, like the Juggernaut, a slow tractor-trailer that can open its rear doors for up to two teammates to hang out and man turrets. Many weapons employ a risk/reward mechanic: charging attacks makes them more effective, but in many cases, also more difficult to succeed with. One of the playable vehicles is a damn helicopter, and Sweet Tooth can transform into a freakin’ mech. The variety of opportunities will likely give rise to high-level strategic play, and will hopefully lend Twisted Metal a long shelf life. I played in three different levels: one set in the suburbs, another in a theme park, and a snowy take on New York. Although there’s plenty of work to be done before the game’s Valentine’s Day launch, the environments impressed me with their size, destructibility, and variability. The level set in a fictionalized New York is full of secret shortcuts, and its verticality -- you can go up into buildings, or head down into the subway -- provides for great hide-and-seek gameplay. The theme park balances a large open area, complete with a Ferris wheel that can be detached from its moorings, and winding narrow paths on its outskirts. The suburban landscape is sparsely populated and offers near-total destruction. All of them seem to offer play spaces that are “fair” to both sides without having mirrored halves. I played with the classic control scheme, where the face buttons cover vehicle control and the triggers fire weapons. Eat Sleep Play is also including controls based on modern racing games, with acceleration and braking on the triggers. As I said earlier, Twisted Metal isn’t exactly a pick-up-and-play experience, but once I figured out the controls, I did manage to race around the maps and score some kills. The frame rate never dropped during the fast-paced action, and I didn’t see any silly AI bot behavior. While online play is the star of the show, the game also offers local split-screen action for up to four players, just like old times. However you play, you’ll need to invest a good amount of time to learn the ins and outs of Twisted Metal, even if you’re not new to the series. Thankfully, it looks like it will be worth it.
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Unless you count the continued popularity of Mario Kart, we’re a long way from the ’90s heyday of car combat games. Modern multiplayer combat primarily concerns games in which people shoot each other, but David Ja...

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David Jaffe says that they're going to miss the date of October 4, and that Twisted Metal has to be pushed back. They need time to polish the title, he says. "Thing is, you gotta trust me when I tell you that – with thi...

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Twisted Metal now an 'HBO serial killer' with an M rating


Jul 25
// Nick Chester
Remember when Eat Sleep Play was aiming for a T-rating for the upcoming PlayStation 3 Twisted Metal? It's given up that plan; the game will now ship with an M-rating. "Without the blood," Eat Sleep Play's David Jaffe told a c...
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Jaffe isn't expecting Twisted Metal to be a blockbuster


Jun 22
// Conrad Zimmerman
Twisted Metal is a name hardcore gamers likely all recognize but the series has never had the über-success we associate with major, AAA releases. Series creator David Jaffe knows this and doesn't seem to be deluding hims...
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Jaffe explains how twisted the T-rated Twisted Metal gets


Jun 21
// Nick Chester
Fans of Twisted Metal: Black might have been put off a bit upon hearing that Eat Sleep Play were aiming for a 'T' rating with its upcoming PlayStation 3 Twisted Metal game. The studio’s co-founder David Jaffe later turn...
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The big "surprise" announcement at Sony's press conference this afternoon was that, contrary to what David Jaffe had posted on Twitter a few months back, he is, in fact, working on a Twisted Metal game. As Sweet Tooth d...

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Jaffe won't be at E3, nor will his top secret game


Apr 28
// Conrad Zimmerman
David Jaffe has a secret. The secret is totally not a new Twisted Metal game for the PS3. And he's going to get to keep his secret a little bit longer. The designer has confirmed that neither he, nor his secret -- which ...
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Game SERIES Debate to the Death! T. Metal VS G. Turismo


Oct 06
// Tom Fronczak
Last week's debate will hopefully be a wake up call to those responsible for the Mortal Kombat series' future. The numbers from our microcosm debate poll may show that a small group of people are happy with the series overall...
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Game Debate to the Death!
2007 Game of the Year?


Jan 02
// Tom Fronczak
In our last debate, we traveled back to a dark time in our lives when we actually, if ever, watched televised wrestling shows. When asked what your favorite wrestling game of all time was, over a hundred votes were cast for d...
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David Jaffe confirms three new PlayStation 3 exclusives


Aug 08
// David Houghton
David Jaffe doesn't waste time. It's just over two weeks since he left Sony to set up his Eat, Sleep, Play studio with Incognito founder Scott Campbell, and already he has four games lined up for his previous employer's machi...

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