Review: Twisted Metal

How do you survive the brutal carmageddon that is Twisted Metal? Destroy every opponent by any means necessary. Careen through deathtrap-infested stadiums, quiet suburbs, and other locales mowing down anyone who dares stand in your way.

It’s complete, unadulterated carnage, and you’d assume it’d be a rowdy good time. And it is, up to a point – the 2012 revival of the cult favourite vehicular combat franchise feels much more like a rock star fresh out of rehab: the drive is still there, but the edge has been severely diminished.

Things start out promising. Campy single-player cut-scenes greet players diving right into story mode. Live-action footage married with B-movie slasher flick attitude illustrate each character’s reasons for participating in the Twisted Metal tournament.

These tidbits set the stage for each story and work to pump players up for the impending metal mayhem. Unfortunately, that’s where things begin to race downhill.

Single-player mode, punctuated by deathmatches and checkpoint races come across as little more than pedestrian bumper cars with machine guns rather than a battle royale.

Lacklustre environments, slippery physics, and a dull selection of weapons turn a fight to the death into what can easily feel like a slog; vehicles blowing through environments like localised nuclear blasts.

That’s after you’ve acclimatised yourself to an incorrigible control scheme and steep learning curve. You’re forced to learn on your own: superboosting, switching between vehicle forms, unlocking offensive options beyond peppering opponents.

Even then, this isn’t the raucous Twisted Metal of your youth – it feels more methodical and less chaotic. It’s still fun to hurl homing missiles at your opponents and secure a swift victory, but the old spark just isn’t there.

An extremely short single-player mode gives way to Twisted Metal’s robust lineup of multiplayer options, which, regrettably finds the online community buzzing about deathmatches.

Team-based modes appropriately showcase the strengths and possible strategic options each particular vehicle provides, and up to 16 players can join in for vehicular destruction – all running at a smooth 60fps, clearly a feat in itself.

Twisted Metal’s return can be explosive fun, but its entry fee is a tutorial-less learning exercise, high points few and far between, and stunted replayability.

It’s unquestionably cool to explore the origins of each racer, examine their motives, and stop a few engines during combat, but this isn’t exactly the same turbo-boosted tune-up we had in mind.

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