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Critical Reception: Eat Sleep Play's Twisted Metal

This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Eat Sleep Play's car combat series reboot Twisted Metal, which reviewers describe as "a blast, when it's firing on all cylinders."
This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Eat Sleep Play's car combat series reboot Twisted Metal, which reviewers describe as "a blast, when it's firing on all cylinders." Twisted Metal currently earns a score of 79 out of 100 at Metacritic.com. Game Informer's Dan Ryckert scores Twisted Metal at 8.5 out of 10. "In the early years of the PSone, the successful vehicular combat game brought attention to a console trying to establish its identity," he begins. "With [creator David] Jaffe back in control of the series after a 10-year hiatus, how does the series stack up in a vastly different gaming landscape largely devoid of vehicular combat games?" Ryckert believes that fans will enjoy the series' latest installment. "In terms of classic Twisted Metal gameplay, this is the best the series has ever been," he asserts. "When the game drops a handful of vehicles into a gigantic, destructible playground littered with weapons, it's a blast. "Most of the classic weapons are back, although developer Eat Sleep Play altered some things slightly," Ryckert continues. "Each vehicle now has two special attacks, remote bombs can be shot forward, and new weapons like the stalker and swarmer missiles operate with a simple charge mechanic and deal massive damage if timed correctly. Abilities like reverse turbo and alternate sidearms also help mix up your strategies." Multiplayer is another plus. "Deathmatch modes place you in one of the game's numerous massive maps, and it doesn't take long for things to turn into an all-out warzone," Ryckert notes. "Nuke mode is chaotic and entertaining, with two teams capturing their enemy's leader and launching him or her at a massive effigy of the opposing team. Hunted and Last Man Standing are also fun, but can't compete with the insanity of Nuke." "Whether or not vehicular combat can strike a chord with gamers in 2012 the way it did in 1995 remains to be seen," Ryckert says, "but Twisted Metal is a blast when it's firing on all cylinders." David Hinkle at Joystiq gives Twisted Metal 3.5 out of 5 stars. "I envisioned how much the old arcade gameplay might benefit from some modern influence, and how much technology could augment the formula and push the series into exciting new territories," he notes. "Too bad that isn't the case here. Instead, Twisted Metal does little to shake things up and takes the safe, careful approach with its PS3 debut." The narrative is cited as a particular weakness. "Each story is delivered through cheesy cutscenes and dramatic voice-overs, and features a handful of matches introduced by the overly enunciating Calypso," Hinkle describes. "Everything in here seems like something we'd expect from a 12-year-old boy scribbling notes about killer clowns and chainsaw-wielding bikers in the margins of his Trapper Keeper." "As for the events themselves, there's thankfully some variety," Hinkle continues. "Aside from the regular death match events, there are also some more unique challenges, like the Electric Cage and Juggernaut. The former is a survival gametype where players must move between different quarantined areas of the map [...]. Juggernaut features a gigantic, heavily-armored truck that spits out opponents at regular intervals." However: "Competitors act less like opponents and more like the Illuminati, a cadre of conspirators who seem to have had a huddle before every match, deciding that the player needs to die in the most annoying and unfair way possible," Hinkle observes. "Being the target of everything becomes taxing far too early in the game. It's hard to find the constitution to keep playing when you're constantly being frozen and bombarded with rockets." "The constant struggle of trying to take out enemies and keep your own rig in check is as entertaining today as it was when it was first introduced back in the mid '90s," Hinkle assures. "I just wish there wasn't so much muck to wade through before I got to Twisted Metal's gooey, rocket-blasted center." G4 TV's Jason D'Aprile rates Twisted Metal at 3 out of 5. "As it turns out, after so many years, very little has changed," he writes. "Twisted Metal is a game that unabashedly services those old school gamers with its retro, arcade action, but it also unintentionally proves just how far action games in general and driving games in specific have come." D'Aprile finds that the core gameplay remains enjoyable. "Each vehicle has its own signature move, which recharges after use, and a pre-selected main gun," he describes. "Racing around the huge, usually open arenas looking for things to blow up, while stocking up on a variety of missiles, mines, and other explosive goodies is usually an entertaining, if old school endeavor." However: "The problems come into play when dealing with the over-the-top physics that make the cars seem like lead-weight pinballs. The game has an annoying tendency to throw cars up into the air for almost any reason, and the physic effects feel too unreliable and unnecessarily obnoxious. Another noticeable problem is while the focus is clearly on combat, the driving, in contrast, feels outright simplistic." The game is at its best in multiplayer, according to D'Aprile. "While the single-player game does a good job of bringing out all the flaws in the game's design, the multiplayer goes a long way to helping Twisted Metal gain ground," he notes. "This was clearly meant to be a multiplayer game and while the combat and controls aren't as nearly as refined as Rage's car combat, the potential for destruction is far more expansive." "Twisted Metal is a hard sell for those in search of a well-rounded driving game," D'Aprile concludes. "The game play and physics feel almost as if they were ripped from the original PSOne game, and the genre has come a long way since then. While the single-player game is weak, the multiplayer is mostly fun and creative. It's disappointing that after such a long wait, the game didn't evolve more, but fans of the original are certain to enjoy this blast from the past."

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