Twisted metal (TM) was first released all the way back in 1996, while it was a fast a furious game who created the car combat genre it lacked just the last bit to become a true classic (in my opinion anyway). The follow-up TM 2: world tour truly became a classic of its time. Areas were smaller, graphics better and gameplay had gotten a kick upwards. Everything was looking bright for the TM series but then Sony who owns the TM rights decided to change developer, from SingleTrac who made the first two games to a company which name I wont even mention (they suck). As a result most TM fans don’t consider TM3 and 4 as "true" TM games mainly due to lack of quality. Finally Sony had the brains to hand the licence back to SingleTrac (now called Incog Inc.) and TM:B is the result. Now the question is if Incog was able to salvage what able to salvage the else dying TM series? I’d say so.
TM:B takes a darker approach than the previous games did (hence the name). As always the car combat tournament creator Calypso is looking for competitors. The one who wins gets his or her wish granted no matter what it may be. As the competition is highly dangerous you’d need some pretty screwed up people to compete, so what would be more fitting than to recruit inmates from the local mental institution? Each of the 10 the characters have their very own personality, from the psychopath killer dressed as a clown to the evangelist preacher who thinks he’s been possessed by a demon. Each has their own customised car and special attack all fitting their owners nicely.
At first the game seems extremely fast, but after an hour you’ll be blasting away as if it was second nature. The gameplay basically involves destroying all enemy vehicles to proceed to the next level. This doesn’t mean its a bad thing though as battles are what the game is all about (who gives a damn for rescue missions anyway?). Depending on which character you’ve chosen comes a bit of strategy; some need to stay away from all out fights due to light armour, while others rely more on ramming tactics but has slower speeds. In their own way each car has it disadvantage and players are sure to find their own favourite. Throughout the levels various weapon and health pickups and repair stations are spread to help you in the battle. Getting to repair is necessary if you want to make it through the whole level within your three lives. You are also able to perform special actions such as freezing an enemy or becoming invisible by pushing the directional buttons in a certain order. Some things take up more energy (show at a small meter at the bottom) than others often leading to some quick decisions.
The 11 levels vary quite a bit; some lets the player drive around a whole town complete with a industrial area, asylum, amusement park and shopping mall. Others are more restricted as for instance the drive in movie level, which creates a more chaotic and intense experience. The smaller arena like levels, also seem more suited for multiplayer matches. Each level also has plenty of objects that can be destroyed or interacted with creating some spectacular effects (look out the Ferris wheel has run amok). Within the levels secrets are placed, finding these can unlock extra characters (5 in all) or levels.
Graphics are far from colourful but then again that’s the whole idea, its black for god’s sake. Everything is very stylish done whether it’s the stylish main screen, rust stains on your car to the civilian who drives around on a moped. The only thing lacking in graphic a little detail is the fire effect, which appears after disposing an enemy. Credits also has to go out to the music as it’s really nicely done. When driving alone with not an enemy in sight it calms down but gears up again once the action gets started. Most of the tracks have an all most dark gothic feel to them, which really contributes to the levels.
TM:B is a great game, but there’s a downside, a major downside, its been censored. So in case you live in Europe you wont be able to shoot down planes, run civilians over (ok you can but they don’t bleed), but worst off all not be able to see any of the cut scenes which means no story for each character. The stories were an important part of TM:B as it gave the characters a more human feel, now they are just nothing more than a pretty face shown at a few occasions. This means that the game gets old much more quickly than it really should, why complete it with all the characters when all you’ll see is a car speeding off? It takes a great portion away from the game but the gameplay still remains. I still recommend buying TM:B but if you live in Europe you should consider if you can live with the lack of stories. If you on the other hand can get your hands on the American uncut version then there is no excuse for not buying it.
Fast and furious gameplay
Stories (Americans only)
Censored (european version)
A few bugs and occasional slowdown.