E3 2010: Hands-on with Twisted Metal

Team Sweet Tooth and Team Dollface rip it up with more high-speed car combat

The unveiling of a new Twisted Metal at yesterday’s Sony press conference was something of a (heavily rumored) surprise, but what’s more surprising is that the game is available to play, right now, on the show floor in full, networked, team-battle form. And we had a chance, however brief, to join in with other attendees and start blowing some shit up.

The new Twisted Metal is a lot brighter and more colorful than Twisted Metal: Black, but it’s no less violent. Bodies burst into flames, explosions are constant and pedestrians are there just to be run over at high speeds. Rather than letting players pick from the usual cast of psychos, however, the game’s story now revolves around team-based battles between four factions: the Clowns (led by Sweet Tooth), the Dolls (led by Dollface) and two others that haven’t been revealed yet.

We’re not sure exactly how character selection will work this time around, but we do know there’ll be a suitable variety of vehicles at your disposal, including motorcycles, a helicopter (complete with a side-mounted minigun that can be fired at the ground from a first-person alternate view), Sweet Tooth’s ice-cream van and – in our case – a 1960s ambulance. (The kind the Ghostbusters drive.)

Other than how pretty the game looked, the first thing we noticed was a big, red targeting reticle that kept popping up on the horizon, locking on to whatever enemy was nearest and making it a lot easier to direct attacks while tearing around at high speeds. Apart from the usual assortment of multi-purpose missiles that littered the suburban arena on display, we had a couple of special attacks at our disposal that were unique to the ambulance. The first was a sniper shot, which involved a Clown henchman leaning out of the passenger window with a rifle and leveling a devastating bullet at whatever enemy car was targeted.

The second was a lot cooler, and involved launching a screaming idiot on a gurney/rocket sled out the back of the ambulance, who then exploed on impact with whatever we aimed him at. We could simply shoot him like a heat-seeking missile, or – by switching over to the alternate view – control him like a separate, high-speed vehicle and manually trigger his explosives in the case of a near-miss. The only problem with that approach was that it left us totally unguarded, and once we made him explode only to be returned to the site of the ambulance itself exploding.

What we played was fast, violent and a lot of fun, but what was almost more interesting is what we didn’t see – at least not firsthand. We’re told the semi-secret, fighting-game-style special moves of earlier Twisted Metals will make a comeback, for example, although we couldn’t figure any out on our own. And the only game mode on display was a straight-up team skirmish, so we haven’t yet seen any of the new game modes firsthand, like Nuke the Base or the capture-the-flag-style matches shown at the press conference.

If you didn’t catch the capture match type, it involves team leaders – who can be captured or defended, like a flag – being kidnapped, dragged behind an enemy vehicle and then “sacrificed” to a flaming beast of a missile launcher. The launcher then fires a missile, which is player-guided through various aerial hazards until it can strike a massive, airborne statue of the opposing team’s leader. Once a statue is hit three times, the match is over. It’s ridiculously (and probably even unnecessarily) elaborate, but it looks like fun and we want to try it. And as the game edges toward its nebulous release date sometime next year, we will. Expect to see a lot more on this one in the coming months.

Jun 16, 2010

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

After graduating from college in 2000 with a BA in journalism, I worked for five years as a copy editor, page designer and videogame-review columnist at a couple of mid-sized newspapers you've never heard of. My column eventually got me a freelancing gig with GMR magazine, which folded a few months later. I was hired on full-time by GamesRadar in late 2005, and have since been paid actual money to write silly articles about lovable blobs.
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