Twisted Metal: Black Review: It’s all in your Head
Originally released back in 2001, Twisted Metal: Black made a comeback recently when it was released for the PS4 back in December. creating a revitalized appreciation of what made the game so great to begin with. For those of you unfamiliar with Twisted Metal, you play as one of many different vehicles outfitted with ballistic missiles and guns competing in a deadly demolition derby for one valuable prize, a single wish. The competition is hosted by a mysterious man known simply as Calypso who offers to grant the winning driver their one wish. Twisted Metal: Black takes this simple premise and literally twists (pun intended) and paints it over with a thick and heavy coat of macabre tragedy. The drivers in the game are all connected by a common thread, they are all committed to an insane asylum and Calypso visits each one of them to extend an invitation to play his deadly game. A cool aspect about the drivers of Twisted Metal Black is that each one has their own narrative told from their own perspective, adding depth into what could have been a shallow plot line of one-dimensional drivers with boring wishes.
The individual character stories of Twisted Metal: Black was quite revolutionary to the Twisted Metal formula because it adds a lot of replay value into what would be an otherwise average Twisted Metal experience. You feel for these tortured souls and understand the brutal lengths their willing to go to fulfill their desires for revenge or redemption, giving you the perfect incentive to beat the story mode with every character. I use the word average because in terms of gameplay Twisted Metal: Black does not offer any major modifications from earlier Twisted Metal installments, you drive around a selection of different arenas and destroy opposing vehicles with a slew of missiles, bombs, mines, and good old machine guns.
Despite the game’s standard gameplay mechanics, every level is decorated with a lot of little secrets and unlockables, putting a strong emphasis on stage exploration, and as a bonus, every stage is destructible so blast away at as many buildings as you heart’s desire for more weapon pickups. Twisted Metal: Black also replaces the heavy metal soundtrack of previous games with a suspenseful soundtrack, similar to a score you would hear in a dramatic film that dynamically changes when driving around a level or engaging in combat with opponents. What really makes Twisted Metal: Black an amazing title is its presentation and setup, not only is this game superficially dark, with vehicles and environments being washed in tints of gray, black, and brown, its entire thematic foundation is somber with its character narratives keeping you coming back for more and more.
Twisted Metal: Black does have some flaws and keep in mind that these flaws will either enhance or tarnish your experience with the game. One big problem with the game is its imbalanced difficulty with aggressive computer controlled opponents constantly tearing into you with an arsenal of weapons that never deplete. If you are open to a real challenge then look no further because Twisted Metal: Black has what you are looking for, even if you turn the difficulty down to easy the computer will still hunt you down with impressive speed and precision. Another issue with Black is its limited game modes and complete lack of online multiplayer, restricting it to local, offline play exclusively. The three game modes available to players are a story mode, a challenge mode where you can jump right into the game and start battling, and an endurance or survival mode.
On the whole, Twisted Metal: Black is the ideal Twisted Metal game in my opinion because of its fascinating world and characters. The difficulty may be unrelenting and the gameplay may be pretty standard, but Black manages to holds it own pretty well in that department too. It really is no surprise that Sony decided to release it again on the PS4 after having a miserable release run with Twisted Metal (2012) for the PS3. Sadly, Twisted Metal: Black lacks any online play and it only contains three modes; however, this title is definitely strong enough to warrant a few playthroughs. Buy the game at the PSN store for $9.99 to experience the madness for yourself.