A bit of history: Back in the early days of Playstation, a development team named Singletrac created a new genre of game while working for Sony. The genre was car combat and the game was Twisted Metal. This hit was followed by TM2 and Critical Depth (a boat combat game). Then Singletrac left Sony. Since then they have continued to create car combat without the Twisted Metal license. Now, at last, their labor has paid off in the new vehicular fighting game, Rogue Trip: Vacation 2012. This is not to be confused with Twisted Metal 3 which has the familiar name and characters but was developed by another team altogether. Think of Rogue Trip as the real TM3.
The similarities to the first two Twisted Metal games are apparent right away. The smooth movement, the jumping and bumping, and the easy to use control (made easier by the Dual Shock controller) are all here. However, it is the new features that really make this game stand out against its predecessors. The most noticeable change is the tourism plot. The game takes place in the dismal future where tourism is limited to the exclusive resorts of billionaire Big Daddy, and can only be visited by guests with mucho dinero. To counteract this, a group of mercenary tourists have sprung up. This is where you come in. You must pick a vehicle and go searching for tourists in one of 12 locations ranging from the airport to beautiful parks to the heart of the city. When you pick up the tourist you must take him, her, or it to as many tourist spots as you can in order for them to get pictures, and for you to get fat cash which you can trade in for health and weapons. It is this dimension which makes the game original and enjoyable, taking it beyond just blowing up other cars.
The game has 3 modes of play. The first is the Vacation mode where each level must be completed in order to advance. Then there is Getaway, which is the same as Vacation except that it only plays for one level of your choosing. The last mode loses the tourist altogether and just pits players against each other in a fight to the death. Each mode can be played as a 2-player game as well. There is also a mode which allows up to 4 players to play with a link.
The graphics are another nice improvement in the game. Each arena has a very open feel to it which makes everything easier to see. The drawback is that there is much less to hide behind and run around. The up side is that there is less crashing and it is easier for the novice to get around on the ground. Like TM2 there are recognizable landmarks in each level which can be destroyed for secrets. Hate the President? Blow up the White House or the Washington Monument to release all that antigovernment angst.
The game's primary flaw comes from its lack of diversity in the cars and levels. Smashing and shooting is pretty much all that the cars do. Getting in shooting matches where two cars square off and just keep shooting until one person leaves is not uncommon. Also, the levels are mostly flat and are not multi-leveled as in Twisted Metal 2. The flatness and the way all of the levels just feel like a big square makes each stage lack any kind of distinction. You can pretty much use the same strategy for each resort, unlike previous games where each level has a totally different personality requiring different moves. If it was not for the addition of the tourist gimmick then the game would play like a flat TM2.
But the tourist is the main distinction and that is what will make the game a joy to play over and over. In a genre where the games constantly repeat one another it is nice to have something that throws a bit of innovation into the picture. Nevertheless, Rogue Trip does provide the standard big weapons, lots of explosions (especially when you drive off of the Grand Canyon-like thing) and tons of laughs. So if you love kicking someone's butt in a set of high powered tires with machine guns and flame throwers attached, then you will dig the kill-'em-all style of gameplay of Rogue Trip. If you prefer a peaceful more relaxed experience then you have no business being a tour guide.
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