Review by Sour
"Calypso returns as the head of Twisted Metal!"
Thankfully after Twisted Metal: Small Brawl left a Sour taste in our mouths, the team would come together and create a darker game in the same vein as the first four installments. In fact, it would prove to be even darker as denoted by the game's title. Some of the characters also received massive redesigns but it was done in a way that was still welcome amongst fans. Twisted Metal: Black breathed new life into the series and it was certainly a breath of fresh air. It has it's faults (one character being removed and a boss character being unplayable), but overall it was a major improvement and a callback to the series' roots.
Story: 10/10: The story is largely the same as in previous installments in the franchise, save Twisted Metal: Small Brawl and to an extent, Twisted Metal 4. Calypso returns once again to his rightful place to invite select individuals to a tournament of vehicular combat. It's pretty much a demolition derby with the ability to fire missiles and guns and other sorts of weapons. Each character enters the tournament for their own reasons, because Calypso grants the winner of the tournament any one wish that they desire. Each character has their own back story and reasons for entering the tournament which they explain themselves in certain cut scene sequences. The characters have been made darker and more grotesque as well, notably Sweet Tooth. Upon winning the tournament, being the last man (or woman) standing, Calypso will grant them whatever wish they desire. However, if the character asking is good-natured in their wish, Calypso will grant the wish as such that it will harm the contestant. If the character's motives are evil, then Calypso will simply grant the wish as desired with no harmful effects to the person asking the wish. This can often teach the player a lesson: be careful what you wish for, you just may get it!
Game-play: 10/10: The game-play is the same it has been in the previous games. You and several other contestants do battle in an arena in an attempt to come out on top. The controls are as great as they always have been, albeit somewhat unconventional. The button layout anyway. This can always be altered though if you prefer something different. The controls are responsive as ever making for easy driving and decimation. As you drive around the arena, you'll be able to pick up various weapons such as homing missiles and even environmental pick-ups, such as lightning. Lightning will only appear in a certain area when used but it does insane damage if one is hit by it. Each character also has a special weapon catered to their type of vehicle or personality. These special weapons are always regenerating which is quite useful. As you're driving around picking up other weapons, these specials will continue to stock. Each car also has a pair of mounted machine guns that have unlimited ammo but beware, they can overheat! In addition to all of this, you have a special energy meter that will grant you extra abilities when a button combination is entered, such as shooting a weapon backwards, activating a shield, or jumping. The game also features two boss characters, one of which is playable. That would be Minion, who returns in this game as a large tanker truck. The other is Warhawk, a large Apache helicopter.
The game features a couple of different modes as well. You can either go through the regular campaign by yourself, or with a friend in two-player co-op to double the mayhem! There is also a death match mode in which you can go up against another friend if you're feeling competitive. You can also enter passwords to give yourself (and your partner if you're playing in co-op mode) a boost, such as God Mode, where you'll be invincible unless you fall into a bottomless pit or something. All of that being said, the game-play hasn't changed much over the course of the series. However I still would've liked to see as many boss characters in this game as they had in Twisted Metal 4. Still, the action is as great as ever and you should have no problem getting the controls down.
Graphics: 10/10: Massive improvement here over the previous titles. The vehicle models no longer look so blocky, the pixelation is gone, the backgrounds and environments are incredibly well-rendered. Just wow. It's probably partly due to the fact that all of the previous titles were on the Playstation and this one is on the Playstation 2. Still, wonderful backgrounds, better looking vehicle models, all in all, fantastic job. I even like the detail that went into making the effects for when you run over a puddle of water. Sweet Tooth's flaming hair looks as amazing as the rest of the game as well. A lot of the characters also got a massive visual overhaul on their vehicles and they look great. And the color (or rather "shade", if you want to get technical) black is just everywhere, giving the game a very dark atmosphere. One level I liked in particular was the massive boat that you're on during a storm. The boat rocks and sways as alarms go off, and you can see it while you're on the main deck, waves crashing into the boat. The game's endings are all rendered in CGI and they did a great job. The whole game's very pleasing on the eyes and it's definitely a step up from the previous installments, especially when it comes to the in-game vehicle models.
Audio: 10/10: The soundtrack is simply fantastic. For the intro and ending credits, they used The Rolling Stones' Paint it Black. For various arenas and stages, they have orchestrated music that's generally very chaotic and dark. It's an interesting turn from the hard rock and heavy metal tracks of the previous games but it works well for the atmosphere of this one. The voice actors also all did a fantastic job as they always have. The sound effects are great, especially for Sweet Tooth when he transforms. It's also great as the tires squeal when you're making a turn. The weapons all sound great, as do the explosions and environmental sounds.
Overall: 10/10: By far one of the best games in the series and a welcome addition to the franchise, especially after Small Brawl. This game brought the series back to it's dark roots where it belongs and made several massive improvements, especially in terms of graphics. By far one of the greatest vehicular combat games to date. Although Thumper got excluded from the game and Warhawk didn't get to become playable, it's still one of the best games in it's own right.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 03/16/10
Game Release: Twisted Metal: Black (US, 06/18/01)
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