Do you remember that day you received your first video game console? How about that time you discovered a secret stage that none of your friends knew about? Those days of being so excited for the latest iteration in a long-running series, only to be disappointed or have your expectations exceeded beyond your wildest dreams. That is what the Video Gamer’s Experience is all about. Now lets take a trip down this electronic memory lane.
Christmas 1997 was a great time for me as my parents centered my presents around my first “Playstation” console. By that point, Sony’s first try into the hardware video game world was already two years old and had a pretty extensive library. Not long after attaining my Playstation, I had an opportunity to visit the local video store. Looking around at the various game covers, a chaotic, disturbing sight featuring a man attached to two giant wheels shooting rockets at a bulldozer in front of the Eiffel Tower quickly caught my eyes. Outside of the game’s title, I had no idea what in the world “Twisted Metal 2” was … and I didn’t care; I had to play this game.
Reading the game’s instruction manual on the way home revealed to me that “Twisted Metal 2” was a “car combat” game where the player selects a car and attempts to kill the virtual fighters hoping to annihilate you. While the premise sounded relatively simple and potentially boring after a couple of rounds, I discovered “TM 2” was an effort in violent excess featuring interesting and varied locales (including Paris), an incredible amount of weapons to choose from, secrets galore and one of the greatest renditions of “Frere Jacques” ever. My father and I became addicted to the game, spending many weekend nights trying to outmaneuver each other while blowing up the aforementioned Paris monument.
The “Twisted Metal” franchise would switch studios and deteriorate in quality. Fans still held out hope that one-day “Twisted Metal” would return to its former glory. It wouldn’t come on the Playstation, but the system’s successor, the “Playstation 2”. Several members of SingleTrac (the studio that created the first two “Twisted Metals”) rejoined to form “Incog Inc.”, they went right to work on what would be a new twist on an already deranged idea. It had been almost four years since I played my first “Twisted Metal” and I was ready for the real deal once again with “Twisted Metal: Black”.
Did I Complete “Twisted Metal: Black”?
Like the games before it, completing “Twisted Metal: Black” can be a daunting task as it will require you to not only play the game, but also complete the story mode with every character. Depending on what character/car you chose, the difficulty varies. Some cars have higher speed and special attack boosts, only to feature weaker armor. I was particularly fond of Mr. Grimm (the motorcycle), yet had to zip around quickly and couldn’t stand still for too long or I’d be picked apart by the joining enemies.
“TM: B” is a lot less forgiving when it comes to survival. Hoping to make the game truly an adult-oriented experience, the average difficulty is high and creeps up to almost unbearable from there. I’m not going to lie and say I didn’t use the “God Mode” cheat to survive some of those tougher battles, but it was more of a last resort so I didn’t have to start one of those levels all over again (or be torn apart by that Warhawk fighter jet).
After many weeks and hours of grinding before and after school, and on the weekends, I finally played with every available character, saw all the endings, and discovered the truth behind this game’s dark and unsettling story.
Did “Twisted Metal: Black” Live Up to the Hype?
“TM: B” didn’t have a lot to live up to compared to the then-most recent releases, but had to rebuild the legacy that the first two games created. Taking everything they learned from the previous iterations and adding a fresh coat of opaque paint to it, Incog Inc. not only restored long-time “TM” fans’ faith in the series, but also set a new standard.
Like the David Jaffe-led games before it, “TM: B” features a crazed pace that seemingly never slows down even when it’s down to two cars battling it out. The game’s speed will keep anyone on their toes. Also extra weapons like the “gas can” and satellite missiles joined the old favorites such as homing missiles and ricochet mines. One can’t forget to mention the variety of specials. Sweet Tooth’s ice cream truck turns into a Transformer and fires a plethora of missiles. Manslaughter’s dump truck propels boulders. Even The Preacher shoots “demonized” followers/suicide bombers at incoming cars. More than not, each character’s special was unique as it was insane to see.
One of the best reasons to play a “Twisted Metal” game was/is the locales. Instead of opting to go around the world like in “2”, “Black” featured more urbanized environment similar to the series’ original game. With the battlegrounds came interesting set pieces that could turn a game on its ear in a heartbeat (the Ferris wheel, anyone?). Each area is relatively large and features many secret areas, weapon pickups and high spots to tear unsuspecting players apart.
Though one would think nothing matters more than the game play, for a lot of players the game’s character-driven stories made the game truly unique. “Black” has some of the darkest, most horrific stories seen in any video game. There are three cut-scenes for (almost) each character that tell a unique, disturbing story one might not ever forget.
“Twisted Metal: Black” isn’t perfect, though. The aforementioned difficulty level can make someone throw down his or her controller not long into the game when playing alone (which is a high possibility if you weren’t around to play the online version or had someone willing to sit down and go a few rounds). The graphics, while incredible during its release, don’t hold up well in this day and age – not even the PSN digital version. Add that to the fact the mundane colors make certain stages blend into one another; taking away the effectiveness of say a sprawling, yet desolate suburb. Gameplay-wise, the controls take a little getting used to. Jumping into the game years after not playing it reminded me just how difficult it could be to drive, aim, shoot and figure out how to utilize specific maneuvers. For some games, it’s easy to pick up and play immediately, but hard to master. “Twisted Metal: Black” can prove difficult no matter what; but once you get settled in, everything becomes second nature.
Should You Play “Twisted Metal: Black”?
Games like “Twisted Metal: Black” are a tricky thing to recommend. For some people, it’s hard to get used to the frenetic pace or even appreciate the insanity that can and most likely will ensue no matter what car you pick or how you play. In more ways than one, “TM: B” is a redemption song for not only the creators and the studio who crafted this game, but also fans of the series who were waiting for a “Twisted Metal” worthy of following in the footsteps of “Twisted Metal 1” and “Twisted Metal 2”. Thankfully for all you “TM” fans, “Black” lives up to the hype, still plays incredibly well and is easily attainable both physically and digitally thanks to the Playstation Network. For anyone on the fence, “Twisted Metal: Black” is definitely worth a try in any form.