Twisted Metal Head On: Extra Twisted Edition Review

Twisted Metal: Head On has plenty to offer for fans of the series and anyone with an interest in vehicular carnage.

Twisted Metal: Head-On for the PSP was considered to be the sequel to Twisted Metal 2 that had never been, and one of the best gaming options available at the portable system's launch. Forget about that other Twisted Metal 3; Head On expanded upon some ideas from the original games, refined a few others, and blew the dust from some fun that had been missing from the series for quite a while. So, the question is: What does Twisted Metal Head On: Extra Twisted Edition bring to the PlayStation 2 other than a port of a two-year-old game built for lesser hardware?

That question is answered with the amount of bonus content packed onto the disc. In addition to an enhanced version of Head On, you also get three new levels from the heretofore-unknown sequel to Twisted Metal: Black, as well as an on-foot section called the Sweet Tour that puts you in Sweet Tooth's oversized boots for a little trivia and concept-art treasure hunting. And if that still isn't enough bang for your buck, you'll also get a documentary called Twisted Metal: The Dark Past, scrapped ending movies from the first PlayStation game, and an all-new Transylvania level.

The PS2 game looks and controls better than the PSP original.
The PS2 game looks and controls better than the PSP original.

However, the core of the package is still Head On, and the gameplay is classic Twisted Metal at its finest. For those who have played the game in its original incarnation, this version is certainly an improvement. It really does feel as if it was made for the PS2; the loose control afforded by the analog nub on the portable version is just a bad memory. All of the special attacks, such as freeze, shields, invisibility, and so on, are easier to pull off without having to quickly switch to the D pad (although that is still an option).

Going from Head On to Lost Levels isn't much of a change aside from the different theme, but if you've played Twisted Metal: Black anytime recently, it might feel a little strange at first because there are some subtle differences in the color-coding system used for weapons and power-ups. The Lost Levels themselves are well designed. The first level, called Suburban Terror, is a strip mall combined with some expansive suburban roadway, and the highlights are a movie theater and bowling alley for you to tear asunder. The second level, Stadium Slaughter, is a large motocross arena surrounded on the outside by some highway overpasses. The real highlight is the third level, Carnival of Darkness, which is a large amusement park. This level has showstoppers that include a huge roller-coaster track that you can fight it out on, as well as a water ride complete with a giant skull that has eye sockets that serve as a set of ramps.

There are a few hidden characters and secrets within as well. For example, the all-new 12-Pak is a headless horseman type who rolls in a modified stock car. There are no game endings to speak of in Lost Levels, and the only story you're going to find is the small paragraph available on the character-select screen. The other supposedly new vehicle isn't really new at all: It's Gold Tooth, a gold-plated and much more powerful version of your standard Sweet Tooth. Of special note is a supposed letter from beyond the grave written by some mysterious game developers. You can read portions of it upon completing the Lost Levels. Ultimately, to read the whole letter, you must beat the three levels on the hard difficulty setting, at which point you'll be pointed back to Head On to uncover the rest of the big reveal.

Stop me and buy one.
Stop me and buy one.

Twisted Metal Head On: Extra Twisted Edition's multiplayer offerings on the PS2 are a step backward for the series. The PSP version of Head On included both ad-hoc and online support for up to six players to compete in a variety of deathmatch settings. The network play has been stripped from Head On, but you are still left with the series' staple split-screen mode, in which you can play a co-op game with a friend, or challenge your opponent to a head-to-head deathmatch. In light of Twisted Metal: Black Online, it's hard not to wonder why no online mode was included in this package.

Visually the Extra Twisted Edition is inconsistent, considering that it consists of many completely different parts. Head On represents a step up from the PSP version, but still falls below the bar on the PS2. That is not to say that it looks overtly bad, just that it's very basic in terms of geometry. Lost Levels looks better than Head On, but it's also a lot darker than it needs to be. It should be noted that Twisted Metal: Black had a brightness tweak in the option menu because it was difficult to see on some TVs, but that option is not available here. The frame rate is solid in both, with the exception of a small hitch in Head On when the next song in the soundtrack is queued. The music is also in keeping with what has appeared in previous Twisted Metal offerings: mostly guitar rock and techno in Head On, and frantic industrial tunes in Lost Levels.

The Lost Levels, Sweet Tour, series documentary, and slew of bonuses make the package a no-brainer for big fans of the series, and with its low price point, it's worth a look for anyone with a more casual interest. It's nice to see that instead of going the route of a quick and dirty port to the PlayStation Network, Eat Sleep Play and Sony decided to pack the game full of extras to make this a more compelling purchase.

Also included in this Extra Twisted Edition are some discarded ending movies from the original Twisted Metal, which are so awful they're hilarious; a decent documentary on the series that includes many of the original game developers; and the aforementioned Sweet Tour. Originally planned for inclusion in Twisted Metal: Black, Sweet Tour is essentially a glorified menu system that even now looks a bit rough around the edges.

Twisted Metal Head On: Extra Twisted Edition's multiplayer offerings on the PS2 are a step backward for the series. The PSP version of Head On included both ad-hoc and online support for up to six players to compete in a variety of deathmatch settings. The network play has been stripped from Head On, but you are still left with the series' staple split-screen mode, in which you can play a co-op game with a friend, or challenge your opponent to a head-to-head deathmatch. In light of Twisted Metal: Black Online, it's hard not to wonder why no online mode was included in this package.

The quality of the visuals varies depending on which game you're playing.
The quality of the visuals varies depending on which game you're playing.

Visually the Extra Twisted Edition is inconsistent, considering that it consists of many completely different parts. Head On represents a step up from the PSP version, but still falls below the bar on the PS2. That is not to say that it looks overtly bad, just that it's very basic in terms of geometry. Lost Levels looks better than Head On, but it's also a lot darker than it needs to be. It should be noted that Twisted Metal: Black had a brightness tweak in the option menu because it was difficult to see on some TVs, but that option is not available here. The frame rate is solid in both, with the exception of a small hitch in Head On when the next song in the soundtrack is queued. The music is also pretty standard fare for both: mostly guitar rock and techno in Head On, and frantic industrial tunes in Lost Levels.

The primary appeal of Twisted Metal has always been its adolescent sensibilities. The idea of a car or truck with guns and missiles bristling out is a familiar fantasy to most of us, and being able to vent some road-rage frustrations virtually in suburbia, on rooftops, freeways, and even Paris, France is pure in its simplicity. One can only do the same thing over and over again for so long, though, a fact that is acknowledged by the creators themselves in the documentary.

The Lost Levels, Sweet Tour, series documentary, and slew of bonuses make the package a no-brainer for big fans of the series, and with its low price point, it's worth a look for anyone with a more casual interest. The heyday of the Twisted Metal games may or may not lie in the dark past, but the series certainly still has its fans. It's nice to see that instead of going the route of a quick and dirty port to the PlayStation Network, Eat Sleep Play and Sony decided to share some insight while making this a more compelling purchase. At $20, it'd be a mistake not to recommend this game to all but those with no interest in Twisted Metal, or in vehicular carnage in general.

The Good
Tons of content
Solid gameplay
Low price point
The Bad
No online play
Inconsistent visuals
7.5
Good
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Twisted Metal: Head-On - Extra Twisted Edition More Info

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  • First Released Feb 5, 2008
    released
    • PlayStation 2
    Twisted Metal: Head On - Extra Twisted Edition features the series' iconic car carnage, along with new levels and the ability to leave your ice cream truck.
    8
    Average Rating507 Rating(s)
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    Developed by:
    Eat Sleep Play
    Published by:
    SCEA
    Genre(s):
    Simulation
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    Blood and Gore, Drug Reference, Mild Language, Mild Suggestive Themes, Violence