First off: If you don't know Twisted Metal, the author or even The Road Warrior (Mad Max 2), go away. You're wrong here. What follows is the personal story of a gamer, who looks forward to the return of one of his all-time-favorites. It's subjective, fatous and at times even corny, but who cares?
Here we go:
Twisted Metal was my first love on the PlayStation. I was one of those people, who didn’t know shit about the games for the console. The PlayStation was a year on sale and I just knew I wanted to have it. Funny enough I just wanted the console, not any specific game. So I went into the videogame store and looked at the shelves. What to pick? A beat’em up? A racing game? WipEout? Destruction Derby? Tekken? I didn’t know. So I looked at the games, studied the covers and the backs of the covers. Cars shooting rockets and an Icecream-truck? That sounds nice, what’s on the back? Well, exploding cars, shooting at each other. And it has a two-player mode for me and my buddy. After half an hour or so, I picked up Twisted Metal and went home.
I startet the game and instantly liked the style of it. Those beat up cars, the rock music, that’s my style. So I got right into it and I had a rough start. The controls (I chose Deadly Force, so I could accelerate on X and fire a weapon on Square) were tough, the physics strange, the first person view useless and the enemies tough. I didn’t like it at my first try. But then I invited my buddy (and I think I persuaded him to buy a controller, so we could play with two players, but I’m not entirely sure…) and we started playing it in versus mode. And boy, did we have fun for weeks! Seriously, we played a lot of stuff, but Twisted Metal was a game we always came back to. We played Need for Speed, took turns in WipEout 2097 and MDK, played a lot of demos, sweated playing Resident Evil…we enjoyed our gaming youth and earned bad grades at school – just as it’s supposed to be. Then came Twisted Metal 2.
It entertained us for at least a year, if not longer. We had somekind of ritual, getting together after school at his place, playing TM 2 in coop, having some food after the first playthrough, then starting the second round and play some versus after that. We so loved the game and its glitches. He always picked Outlaw 2, I drove Shadow. We collected weopons in L.A. to stand a chance in Moscow, we waited to blow up the Eiffel-tower until we were in position to see it in all its glory (we even changed to vertical split for a moment), we jumped up the main building on the side at Fire Walk and had a cigarette while occasionally blasting enemies from our safe position. We beat Minion the same way with his own weapon. We laughed at the huge bug in New York, where the AI-cars would try to enter the glass building and lining up in front of it after some time, collecting weapons and shooting down Napalm with our special energy. We were amazed by the technical quality of Antarctica, where the screen of player two would at one time completely disappear. I didn’t laugh at the fact, that the AI-cars would constantly cheat and Spectre would always fire at me (Player 1).
We barely survived Holland and we just let the chaos rule in HongKong. And we were genuinly scared of Dark Tooth and simply used hit & run to get him. And boy, did we have the most intense mulitplayer-games ever. We knew every spot of the levels, we loved the classic levels. The old skyscraper-level was so brilliant and the new weapons and mechanics improved it even more. Being a sitting duck at the far right roof behind the wall (getting the homings, I guess) while the other player was just waiting for the other one to come out. Jumping back into the tunnel with a shield on and getting the healing – we really knew what we were doing.
We still thought the level design of the first game was better for versus matches. Maps like Holland or Moscow were too small and had little to none tactical spots. Antartica had this problem with the screen of player two and it had some cheap deaths (falling down, because the car was stuck for a moment too long), New York was just bigger, but not better and the glass building was closed even in versus mode. Hongkong was nice, but L.A. had the better music and Paris was the masterpiece of the game. But I remember that we used to play the old skyscraper level the most. Of course we turned of radar, so we could only see each other in the game and on the other screen, but not constantly on the radar.
We listened to our own music after some weeks, because we couldn’t hear the music anymore. This way I will always connect several songs with Twisted Metal 2. I remember we listened to Aerosmith’s Nine Lives a lot (I don’t even listen to them very often, but it just fitted so well), Clawfinger, Stone Temple Pilots…ah, the 90s. Good times.
TM 3 never came out in europe, TM 4 as well. When the PS2 came out we had some rounds in coop-mode, but our friendship wasn’t the same at this time already. We had lost contact somehow and now I don’t even know his e-mail-adress. But I will never forget the time and I will never forget about TM2. As much as I loved to see the series return on PS2 (even though I had to buy a US-PS2, a power converter and the US-version of the game, because Sony cut all of the cutscenes in the PAL-version), and as much as I enjoyed playing it, it was never the same again, mostly due to the fact that TM alsways felt a little boring played alone. I had some nice matches against my brother, but it never reached that status of TM2.
I bought a US-PSP right at launch including TM:HO and I loved to see it back again, but I didn’t have any colleague or friend who liked the game, so I could mostly play it alone. I tried it online (as I tried TMB:O), but my US-version connected to US-servers, so it was almost unplayable. I had a german version as well, but it never really took off. I bought TM:HO for PS2 as well as a US-version and enjoyed the making-of stuff, but the game itself felt rough around the edges. No widescreen, tons of bugs, poor graphics…it wasn’t really very good.
For years now I am waiting for a new Twisted Metal and was almost giving up, but now it is back. It has a focus on multiplayer, the graphics aren’t the most impressive, the speed and physics remind me of TMB rather than TM2, it’s very dark and grey, I don’t know what to think of the helicopter, digital steering seems to be gone, there is no online-coop planned…tough times for me, then. But I screamed at my computer, when the trailer at the Sony press conference started and when Sweet Tooth entered the stage. I was irritated by the demonstration and objectivly speaking I was a little underwhelmed, but it’s fucking Twisted Metal. It’s probably the only game I really, really like that much, that I will buy it blindly. It’s the one series, I have every part of (except TM3, but I’ll pass), some even multiple times – 11 games in total. Maybe apart from Interstate ’76 there is no other series I was craving for a new entry. It’s awesome, it’s great, it will have flaws and it will never be the same as back in ’97 when I played TM2 almost every day, but it will be back. It’s good to be back. Thank you, and please don’t fuck up.
Some things, that would really make me happy:
Digital steering – I don’t like the analog stick that much and if it was possible to put the combo-attacks on the stick and steering on the d-pad, I would be great.
Deadly Force – Either that or freely configurable controls. Part of my lesser fund with Black was, that only three of the four control schemes had been taken over. Seriously, I didn’t get that. Why offer four of them and then take one away? I never liked that Square for gas and X for the tight turn and was at the best of my game with Deadly Force.
Online coop – I live 400 km away from my brother, probably the only person I will be able to play against. Pleeeeeease put that in. No, it is not the same (or better for that matter) to play a team mode online. I wanna toast AI-enemies. Preferred AI-enemies, that don’t cheat (7 specials in a row are not cool!).
Minion special – I will probably never forget that: Hitting circle and then entering up down up up. I missed that in Black and Head On. Sure, it wouldn’t have made that much sense, but I missed it anyway.
Classic levels – Probably the most boring task for a game designer, but would it be great to see those classic levels in all of their HD-glory? Man, I would implode.
Custom Soundtrack – A feature painfully missing from so many PS3-games and I would just love to play the new TM with the music from the old game. I have my MP3s ready, have you the feature done? ;)
Oh, ans by the way: THIS is what Twisted Metal would look like as a movie. :)