Sometimes a good idea is only good when taken in moderation. Pushing an idea too far can completely compromise the entire spirit behind the original idea. Such is the case with the Twisted Metal series. After the first two installments the series was taken from its original developers and handed over to another development team. This turned out to be fun for some but in reality it compromised the integrity of the Twisted Metal series for the rest of us. It became silly and plastic, not to mention slippery and buggy. The whole thing reminded me of the Batman movies. After the first two dark sinister versions, the series was handed over to another team that took all of the original dark concepts and made them bright, colorful and stupid getting rid of anything that made it appealing in the first place.
Well I am happy to report that the series is back in good hands as the original creators are back in the driver's seat. Twisted Metal has never looked so good, or so dark and sinister, hence the name. From the characters to the plot lines to the environments, everything feels as if it was touched by Trent Reznor and Charles Manson. Each of the characters' story begins in an insane asylum. Calypso, the master of the tournament promises each of them that their greatest desire will be fulfilled if they win this little contest he has organized. None of the contestants can refuse and the Twisted metal tournament is underway.
The startling errors in the feel and themes of the last two Twisted Metal games are blatantly apparent within the first five minutes of TM Black. You will see no giant bedroom courses here. Not only will this version feel more authentic to you; it also manages to produce solid game play throughout. The game cooks at an ultra-smooth 60 FPS and the control is so smooth you won't even notice it. Though the control does not feel very realistic, it is a nice complement to the battle. Spin on a dime and take out the opponent behind you, or hit a corner and slide into a secret area.
Like the original two, this version does have a high level of difficulty especially on the boss levels. Each stage has 8 different opponents on the screen at once with very minimal slow-down. In order to help you out you have three lives and two opportunities to power-up at the repair stations. This may seem like too much, but believe me you will need it. Also making a return are the energy moves such as freezes and invisibility. You will need to learn them if you hope to succeed against tough opponents.
The overwhelming characteristic of the game in general is its--pardon the use of the word--blackness. From the plot, to the characters, to the tone of the game, the overall feel is as dismal as listening to Downward Spiral on a dark rainy day in a padded cell. At times this comes dangerously close to becoming cliché but it never crosses over into that realm. Instead it retains its wicked sense of humor gritty appeal. So if this sounds like your bag then you won’t find a better game on any system. Though Twisted Metal never offers more than just car combat, this is all it needs to be great.
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