Twisted Metal Hands-On Preview

We charge up our chainsaws and sacrifice the leader in our first hands-on look at Twisted Metal's multiplayer modes.

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Twisted Metal is Sony's longest running PlayStation franchise and spans more than 15 years, appearing on four different platforms. This year, the series makes the jump onto the PlayStation 3 for the first time. We were at an event to finally put the controller in our hands and take three of the game's multiplayer modes for a spin.

For anyone unfamiliar with the series, Twisted Metal is vehicular-based combat that puts warped caricatures behind the wheel as part of a carnage tournament, though director David Jaffe likens it more to Street Fighter and other finely tuned cat-and-mouse games than simply strapping machine guns to cars. Our presentation included looks at old faces and some new ones, such as the introduction of Juggernaut, a huge truck featuring both cab and trailer, as well as the first airborne ride in helicopter, Talon.

Juggernaut's entrance marks a proud moment for Jaffe because he wanted to include a complete truck from the very beginning but never quite made the hurdle until now. The unit acts like a combination of Optimus Prime and the Spy Hunter vehicle, capable of ramming through smaller cars with ease, as well as able to play safe haven to other friendly players by dropping its rear ramp and driving inside. It does have its trade-offs, though. While inside, players will have their choice of one of two heavy mounted guns on the roof to use as turrets. The larger of the two has a limited amount of aiming mobility, needing the shooter to communicate with the driver to let him know he needs to steer the truck in certain directions to hit targets. Likewise, if a player using Juggernaut is kind enough to play host to others, the truck's defenses are lowered significantly while the ramp is down and drivers are entering and exiting. This allows the opposing team a window where Juggernaut takes two or three times more damage.

Axel "the human Oreo" makes a return in Twisted Metal, reprising his role as the guy wedged between two giant wheels with guns at the ready. His unique ability gives him the chance to scrunch together and makes him potent as a melee damage dealer, rolling over rival cars like a monster truck and crushing the inhabitants.

Talon is Twisted Metal's first attempt at a flying vehicle. While we didn't have a chance to try it out ourselves, it seems to add some interesting new dynamics to gameplay. Its abilities include a giant magnet fitted to a chain dangling from the underside of the cockpit that can lift other cars, both friendly and foe, off the ground. Adversaries will want to be dropped from a great height to kill them instantly, while cooperative uses in modes like Nuke allow you to quickly evacuate a teammate carrying the human flag and capture points from the air or take control of an advantageous raised platform.

Environmental destruction is a hallmark of the brand, and it manifests itself in different ways. Our multiplayer demo kicked off with an innocuous-looking suburban setting that was quickly destroyed with the mayhem of more than a dozen people shooting up the place in Team Deathmatch. This relatively flat and open space was made all the more simple by our option to simply plough through houses, making holes where we wanted them. We opted for Meat Wagon, a retro ambulance with mounted guns and a special ability that fires patients strapped to metal stretchers and holds bombs toward other unsuspecting drivers. It's equal parts sight gag and function, and by using the alternate fire mode, you can manually maneuver your munitions into opponents to gain a damage bonus.

Black Rock Stadium played host to our second match and offered us a look at Team Last Man Standing mode, which focused on making lives count. Each team begins the game with a set number of respawns; once one of the teams has depleted its rival's pool and wiped it out, it is game over. Loosely based on a previous Twisted Metal track, Black Rock Stadium is a huge multistory open playground. Features include a lava pit that damages but doesn't destroy your vehicle on contact; giant wrecking balls that swing like pendulums across roadways; a falling spike room with scattered safe spots (you'll need to learn the pattern to avoid being crushed); electrified zones that drain away your health if you stay inside them; and our favorite part, dynamic walls. The latter means that the level layout changes frequently, stopping players camping power-ups, and it's exciting trying to avoid floors that become walls as you run from another player. Because of its larger size and its ramps, line of sight played a much larger role in this arena, making it tougher to land hits with guided weapons than on flat, open-plan locales like suburbia.

We went with Reaper, the motorcycle-riding, chainsaw-wielding clown for Black Rock Stadium. His steering response and acceleration made him zippy and responsive enough to get out of most jams. Pulling back on the left analog stick pops a wheelie, dragging your blade against the ground to power it up and deal more damage when thrown. It's unguided, but we were assured that's more than countered in its ability to slice through car doors and into skulls.

Harbour City was our third and final map, and it gave us a look at Nuke, a multiplayer mode we heard about at last year's Electronic Entertainment Expo. Essentially, it's Twisted Metal's version of Capture the Flag but (surprise) with a quirk. Rather than grab a flag, your job is to capture and hold human hostages, return them to your team's mobile or stationary missile launcher site, and survive long enough to sacrifice them. Doing so kicks them into a manually guided rocket that is then aimed at the opposing team's giant doll or clown statue. Modeled on America's favorite pastime, baseball, teams will alternate between offensive and defensive rounds for three innings. The team with the greatest number of hits wins.

The layout of Harbour City is a busy commercial grid, filled with oil refineries, tanks, and a huge underground canal that runs the length of the map and has ramps back up to street level. Up to three capture targets can be set by the host. Though we only had two in play, it became a frantic fight as our team rushed the targets and scooped them up while the rest of the group attempted to provide cover. Kills earn slightly fewer points than rocket launches, so you may not always be the first one to the abduction scene, but you can stay competitive on the scoreboard by taking out those chasing your leaders. Vehicle speed and strength directly correlates with the time it takes you to sacrifice your victim back at base. While fast, light roadsters can speed along, their relatively weaker shells make them sitting ducks as the try to capture the flag. It's also worth noting that because some of Twisted Metal's cast have ground-to-air and air-to-air weapons, once a nuke is up in the air, it doesn't mean it is game over. These can be shot down while in flight, securing the base and forcing a reset.

While the team isn't yet talking about it, we did spy a glimpse of what appeared to be a leveling system tied to multiplayer progression, though at this stage, it remains unclear what gaining rank will unlock.

We walked away from our first play happy with the way things are coming together. Each character has its own distinct feel to drive, from slow and heavy but bursting with power to lighter and more agile rides. Steering feels great and is nice and loose like an arcade racer, but it can quickly tighten up with a well-timed hand brake tap to take a corner at speed. Most importantly, no single vehicle felt like it was the "I win!" option, and with rumors of a potential beta in the works before release, things will only continue to be balanced. There is no shortage of online multiplayer games available for PlayStation 3 owners, but if developer Eat Sleep Play can build and foster clan play, we can see these turf wars raging late into the night. The game is targeted for an October 2011 global release date. Keep it locked to GameSpot for more info.

Discussion

142 comments
Gaoth
Gaoth

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Number_1_
Number_1_

The game looks great with Juggernuat and the new helicopter, but we're right now in December of 2011 and the game still isn't out! But according to Game Stops's website it comes out on February 14, 2012.

Number_1_
Number_1_

The game looks great with Juggernuat and the new helicopter, but we're right now in December of 2011 and the game still isn't out! But according to Game Stops's website it comes out on February 14, 2012.

Number_1_
Number_1_

The game looks great with Juggernuat and the new helicopter, but we're right now in December of 2011 and the game still isn't out! But according to Game Stops's website it comes out on February 14, 2012.

PatIsStuupidd
PatIsStuupidd

@im-a-roustabout um, sorry bro. Road Rash, 1991 Sega Genesis. Twisted Metal, 1995 Sony Playstation. Also, you know, the games really arn't that similar.

Kos1c
Kos1c

@im-a-roustabout Opinion to each his own dude. Because i didn't find the game as great as other people, doesn't mean that my opinion isn't valid. I'm just saying i would prefer some other classics being brought forward onto the table, ones that i actually liked. For Twisted Metal i only played the Ps1 version of the game, then didn't ever play it again, because it wasn't my style of game.

StillFreeTagger
StillFreeTagger

I'll have TM Head-On and Mortal Kombat to hold me over until then.

nini200
nini200

Twisted Metal 1, 2 & Black were the only good ones in the series. This seems to be in the same aspect of Black so we'll see what happens when this comes out. Ok, I see Juggernaut which looks awesome and I know people will be spamming with it and the Helicopter online but WHERE'S HAMMERHEAD AND DARKSIDE?!?!?!

Vonboon
Vonboon

Makes me feel like a kid again looking at this gameplay. cant wait to pick this up along with batman

eliebaz
eliebaz

bought twisted metal for PSP hated it, i dont know not really a fan of arcade racing games im more the simulator person. could explain reason for me disliking it, otherwise graphics look decent, and could prove to be a very creative and entertaining game

sul6an-g
sul6an-g

this one sonds good cuz the others were sh*** anyway i will never buy it to i see the rateing

im-a-roustabout
im-a-roustabout

@Kos1c So you are saying the longest running franchise in PS history should not have been made? A game that has graced every PS console to date does not deserve PS3 loving? And you say Road Rash (which was a blatant TM rip-off) should have been done instead? Dude, PM me with your address so I can come over sometime and sip your Kool-Aid.

im-a-roustabout
im-a-roustabout

@The__MCP I share the SAME sentiment. Only reason I bought a PS2 at launch and a PSP at launch is b/c of TM. Glad to have it back. It has been too long! @CC_MINION You should post a pic on your profile man, show that ink off!

ki11ma11
ki11ma11

preordering this tonight when i pick up mortal kombat :)

flaxgrass
flaxgrass

any chance of wheel support? cause that would be amazing.

GaMa__GaMer
GaMa__GaMer

Juggernaut?? isn't that from death race?

GaMa__GaMer
GaMa__GaMer

SWEET TOOTH MY FAVORITE OF ALL TIME !!!! YEAH!!! WELCOME BACK!!

CC_MINION
CC_MINION

so happy. to show how much i am a fan, i even got a tattoo of sweet tooth frm twisted metal 2 on my right arm.

The__MCP
The__MCP

About freaking time this was on the PS3. Looks great!! Twisted Metal is what got me into the entire Playstation line to begin with for my PS2.

WNxUSA
WNxUSA

TWISTED METAL!!!!

AntonSaidWhat
AntonSaidWhat

I just cant wait to waste over 1000 hours on this

vintu2
vintu2

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Kos1c
Kos1c

I'm going to get downrated for this. But for one of the classic games to be re-made, this isn't the one i would of choosen. Something like Road Rash i would of gone for, but Twisted Metal, this was one of the least favourite games out there. I had two different games from this series, and they were barely played at all, bad gifts to be honest. It's nice seeing some classics being remade (Duke Nukem and Twisted Metal), hopefully this means some of my all time favs will be remade for this gen consoles.

Megavideogamer
Megavideogamer

a possible Twisted Metal beta. That would be sweet if Sony would do that. This is my favorite Sony series. October 2011 can't come soon enough.

derek_brown
derek_brown

Is this only on PS3? Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.........i wanna kill myself........ i'll die tomorrow ............hehehehe.....i want a PS3..........

wolf0
wolf0

have to say looks sick might buy play on my buds ps3

RaZoR_RaiN
RaZoR_RaiN

Twisted Metal: World Tour was one of the best couch co-op games ever made! I willing to bet that they leave out the split screen in favor of online options though... :(

InfestedHunter
InfestedHunter

I wish they would just make it so the cars have realistic physics so it's based on real skill and avoiding then just free motion stop on a dime kind of movement.

yehta
yehta

really great i played the first one it's cool & looking forward for this game

neumanbr
neumanbr

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

RPG_Fan_I_Am
RPG_Fan_I_Am

@Mazinmichael if they did that, I think they should just make 1 game of the first 3 merged together, and make it so you can just pick whatever level you want, and whatever character you want, and then they should add some online multiplayer to it. Twisted metal was a blast to play against your friends.

FooleyAnimator7
FooleyAnimator7

He who says 360 is better.......... The hell is wrong with you? >:-(

megakick
megakick

real car combat? the car didn't move very real in the past twisted metal.

cometkd
cometkd

i can't watch it. the video screen is all blurrry??? what can i do to fix this anyone know?

Mazinmichael
Mazinmichael

i remember playing twisted metal and vigilante 8 on psx, those were those were the good times. Even though they are making this, they should add the old ones to the psn store would be cool to play those again

q8360
q8360

Finally a real car combat game

adabter
adabter

I knew this game was dark but not this dark

PS3gamer890
PS3gamer890

dam i am looking forward to this even though i used to be a fan of this series

SiLenTWarrior29
SiLenTWarrior29

Man... I used to be a big twisted metal fan back in my teen years.. PS1 baby! Those were the days.. TM2 is the best and been playing since TM4.. I gotta say its about time.. Damn 10 yrs since I played a TM game... We really need this game now especially with all this fps games polluting the industry

02050muh
02050muh

after i saw the interview,i think this is the best twisted metal ever created..n it's exclusive,so the chance they screw things up also reduced to 20%