Recently I’ve had the sudden urge to fire up a Twisted Metal game and blow shit up. Before I discovered Grand Theft Auto, Twisted Metal was my action franchise of choice. Twisted Metal has always been a multiplayer focused series but I’ve always found enjoyment in it’s single player content. Over the weekend I played several of the games just to fulfill the urge. Just some deathmatches. So I decided to write up this article listing the Twisted Metal games, best to worst.
Twisted Metal 2
Arguably the best game in the series. It was a much more refined experience compared to the first entry. The original Twisted Metal took place in Los Angeles but Twisted Metal 2 has you destroying the world from New York City to Hong Kong among other locations. It had comic book styled cutscenes (with voice acting), interesting characters and better visuals. Twisted Metal 2 also introduced the “deathmatch” mode to the series which meant no longer were players restricted to the tournament. Even if you had no one to play with you could set up a deathmatch in an arena of your choosing against bots which I would spend hours doing in my youth. Twisted Metal 2 was also released on PC but was inferior to the PSX version. The PC version is quite rare but if you’re a collector and can find a copy I suggest you get it since you may never find it again. At release it was horribly marketed so most people didn’t even know it existed. This was also the last game to be developed by SingleTrac.
Twisted Metal III
Hardened Twisted Metal fans will probably want to kill me for even mentioning this game in the same list as “real” Twisted Metal games but this was the first Twisted Metal game I ever played. I enjoyed it back then and I enjoy it now. It was the first game in the series to be developed by 989 Studios instead of SingleTrac. The formula here didn’t change much since Twisted Metal 2. You had the tournament where you choose one of twelve vehicles and compete in the contest, deathmatch was back, and once again you could travel the world blowing shit up but in different locations then that of Twisted Metal 2. The biggest difference would be the interesting physics added to the game. Vehicles could now be pushed around and flip over. From what I’ve researched most players seem to hate this addition but as a kid I didn’t care and enjoyed what I played. I also feel the AI is superior to any of the Twisted Metal games developed by the original team. I remember the AI would specifically go for health when they were low and they would attack each other instead of just you. If you play Twisted Metal 2 and even the latest game you will notice most of the AI drivers will just drive around aimlessly, maybe fire their machine guns once or twice, and never really go after each other but the moment you drive near them, they come after you.
Twisted Metal: Head-On
Originally released for the PSP this was eventually ported to the PS2 subtitled “Extra Twisted Edition”. If you got a new copy of the PS2 version it came with a code allowing you to download the soundtrack containing songs from all games in the series minus III and 4. Pretty awesome. I always saw this game as Twisted Metal 2 HD and that’s not a bad thing. All the classic characters returned with different storylines, deathmatch was back, and the PSP version included online multiplayer. The PS2 version included the beta version of the Twisted Metal: Black sequel known as Twisted Metal Black 2: Harbor City, the cut live-action cutscenes from the first Twisted Metal game, and some concept art. Not a bad package. Sweet Tour allowed the player to explore a level as Needles Kane, on foot, and learn interesting facts straight from the developers. This mode was clearly designed for fans of the series which is really cool but I think I’d rather navigate a menu instead of using the clunky on-foot mechanics. There were two Twisted Metal games released for the PS2, Twisted Metal: Black and Twisted Metal Head-On: Extra Twisted Edition. I would take Head-On over Black any day.
Twisted Metal (PS3)
When I heard a new Twisted Metal game was coming to PS3 I couldn’t have been more excited. Developed by Eat Sleep Play, directed David Jaffe, this really got me pumped. I was there day one to pick it up and spent an entire week playing it. I think the core gameplay is amazing but the game does have issues. The online multiplayer was a disaster from day one due to connection issues among other things, the AI is what I like to call “stuck in the 90s”, and I truly miss the crazy cast of characters that the classic Twisted Metal games had. Since I’m not a multiplayer guy the AI was the biggest issue for me. Whether it be single player or deathmatch against bots the AI would only aim for you. Even for single player this was disappointing. It’s supposed to be a contest but all the AI combatants will just gun for you. It kind of took me out of the immersion. I was able to test this in the deathmatch mode. I would go up against as many bots as I could and the results of the match would rank me at the top with the most kills and every AI combatant would have zero, minus the combatant that killed me. Granted, this is truly a multiplayer game and David Jaffe even said that during development but I still think some more work could have gone into the single player. This new Twisted Metal only included four characters with their own faction which really didn’t make any sense and the stories weren’t anything special. The characters weren’t tied to specific vehicles so they can actually drive any vehicle of your choosing. Environments were no longer based on real world locations and many of them were really cool and they looked great. Shortly after the game was released, David Jaffe left Eat Sleep Play and many issues with the game still remain. It’s worth mentioning that this was originally planned as a downloadable multiplayer game similar to 2007’s Warhawk and only at the behest of Sony did Eat Sleep Play include a single player mode.
Twisted Metal: Black
Fans of the series will probably say Twisted Metal 2 or Twisted Metal: Black is the best. Believe it or not I’m not a big fan of Black hence why it’s not at the top of my list. However, it is a great game. The gameplay in Black is truly amazing and every Twisted Metal fan should play it. Classic characters return along with some new ones with very dark and disturbing storylines. In fact the whole game is much darker in tone then previous entries. Black takes place in the fictional setting known as “Midtown” instead of real world locations. With that said Midtown seems like a very depressing place. Every location is dark and dreary and that’s my biggest problem with the game. The dark theme just didn’t do it for me but many people seemed to like it. Black didn’t skimp on the single player, though. The stories for each character were well told and there were several characters and arenas to unlock. Black also had online multiplayer but it wasn’t included with the main game. It was released as a free send away for anyone with the PS2 network adapter. The action was frantic and intense and from a gameplay standpoint it had everything a Twisted Metal fan could ask for.
This is where it all started. Calypso’s face was completely burnt and each character was represented by a real actor. This game actually had live-action cutscenes but were cut out before release. If you got the Twisted Metal Head-On: Extra Twisted Edition for PS2 you can watch them. The gameplay here is very dated as are the visuals but the soundtrack is incredible. It contains original tracks with amazing heavy metal riffs. There was no “deathmatch” mode which means if you wanted to fight some bots in a level of your choosing you had to play through the contest or enter the code for each specific level. You can play through the contest alone or compete with another player. The storylines were just as over-the-top as any other Twisted Metal game but there was no voice acting and the setting was Los Angeles so every environment was based on LA. I love several of the levels but “River Park Rumble” was always my favorite. I’m pretty sure this level was redone in Twisted Metal: Black as the “Downtown” level but I never read anything official to state that’s true. They’re very similar in design. Overall the game is just dated and every other game in the series has improved upon it’s formula but it’s still a classic. It’s the original Twisted Metal.
Twisted Metal 4
Like Twisted Metal III, 4 was developed by 989 Studios. It was also the last Twisted Metal game they developed. Classic characters returned along with many newcomers including Rob Zombie. The gameplay was an improvement over III, it had better visuals, and was an overall smoother experience but something about it just didn’t click with me the way previous games did. For me, this is the title I usually forget about when I talk about the series. One thing that stood out here was the bosses. Not that they were super fun to battle but many of them were characters from previous games and by beating them you would unlock them. There was a boss for each level, you could even play as Calypso. The game tries to establish some overarching storyline for this specific contest which involved Sweet Tooth overthrowing Calypso and taking over Twisted Metal or some nonsense like that. The actual character storylines weren’t too memorable nor were the environments. The ability to create your own custom vehicle is the only real stand-out feature in this game. At least to me.
Twisted Metal: Small Brawl
This is by far the weakest entry in the Twisted Metal series. I think Twisted Metal: Small Brawl was aimed at a younger audience but I never understood why this was necessary. The gameplay and visuals look dated making the entire game feel like it’s stuck between the original Twisted Metal and Twisted Metal 2. This time around the characters are children controlling remote-controlled vehicles in several diverse battlegrounds. It’s just not that great mainly because the gameplay itself is just clunky. The levels themselves are okay, a couple stand out but none of them are memorable. I don’t hate the game but I don’t love it. It just feels like an unnecessary entry.