Twisted Metal: Head-On Hands-On

We go hands-on with the latest game to bear the Twisted Metal name.

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Sweet Tooth and the gang are back, and this time they're smaller. No, not like that weird PlayStation game, Twisted Metal: Small Brawl. Twisted Metal: Head-On appears to be a full-fledged Twisted Metal game for the PSP that seems to take after the style of Twisted Metal 2, which is regarded by many as the best game in the series so far. With the same style of Twisted Metal action you've come to expect from the series and support for eight players via the PSP's wireless connection feature, Head-On looks like it could be very, very cool.

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, there used to be a genre known as "car combat." The basic concept is to take a demolition-derby-style environment, and then load each entrant's vehicle up with as much firepower as it can hold. This leads to missile-spewing muscle cars, motorcycles that can freeze you in your tracks, and, yes, even an ice cream truck driven by a psychotic killer. The Twisted Metal series quickly became the one to copy, and tons of also-rans flooded the genre. We haven't seen a really solid entry in the car combat genre in quite some time, but Twisted Metal: Head-On appears poised to reignite the series, which has been dormant since the freebie Twisted Metal: Black Online disc was released back when the PlayStation 2 first got onto the Internet.

Rather than pattern itself after the ultradark Twisted Metal: Black, Head-On actually looks quite a bit like an enhanced version of Twisted Metal 2. Though this doesn't appear to be a quick remake or update. The game will contain around 16 different environments. Some of these will be specifically configured for wireless battles against other players. As in the world tour of Twisted Metals past, you'll skip around the world here. The game's eight-player wireless mode was displayed at Sony's debut event for the PSP, and it seems to perform quite well.

Graphically, the game looks pretty good. The arenas appear to be large enough to hold all eight players without any trouble, and there didn't seem to be any noticeable pop-up to get in the way of the action. The version of the game we were shown ran a little slow, but the gameplay seems intact, and the team is working on getting the speed and frame rate up to a more playable level.

Twisted Metal: Head-On is currently scheduled to be released alongside the PSP in North America, which should put it on shelves in late March. We'll have more on Head-On as it becomes available.

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