Twisted Metal: Head-On ReviewCain Dornan
The Twisted Metal series has long been regarded as one of the best crash em up derby games available on any system. Although the game didnt open up the somewhat restricted genre to wider audiences, it did offer enjoyable and addictive gameplay that kept destruction derby fans stuck to their screens for a considerable amount of time. The series has enjoyed comfortable success on both the original Playstation and its successor, the Playstation 2, leading to the announcement of the series heading to Sonys latest system, the Playstation Portable. While the announcement surprised no one, it certainly excited fans of the franchise. But the question is quickly raised as to whether developer Incognito could successfully transfer the series onto a handheld platform. The end result is a mixed bag; a game that die-hard fans of the series will enjoy, while other gamers will quickly throw aside.
Twisted Metal: Head-On is, at its core, a handheld version of the series debut on the PS2, Twisted Metal: Black. The game offers almost identical gameplay and full online support, with one of the only differences being the alteration of game modes on offer and the downgrade of the visual quality and on-screen item count.
The games single player component is divided into three different game modes. The Story mode is essentially a mode that sends you through various battles that are complemented with the occasional boss battle. The boss battles often involve battling machines that are considerably larger than you, with the added difficulty being to target specific parts of the vehicle, rather than simply blindly shooting the vehicle at random. Upon the completion of the Story mode, you are offered a cinematic that explains the reason for the characters entry into the destruction derby tournament, which adds a slightly deeper sense of game depth and gives reason to play through the Story mode with each of the games wacky characters.
The second single player mode is Challenge. This mode simply requires defeating all characters that are in the arena, with the freedom of selecting your opponents (up to five at any one time) that are competing against you. If you die before you defeat all of your opponents, you have failed the event and given the choice to either retry or exit.
Finally, the last single player mode is Endurance, which offers a slightly different gameplay offering from the other two aforementioned modes. Rather than battling several characters within an arena at any one time, you are pitted against a single character and required to destroy them to move onto your next opponent. The aim of the mode is to survive through the largest number of opponents as possible, which each new opponent slowly advancing in difficulty. Considering that you are not given the opportunity to gather extra ammunition or additional health between each battle, you will need to keep a close eye on your health and use every evasive maneuver possible to achieve the highest score.
The games multiplayer offering allows you to take the games classic destruction derby gameplay online. You can battle your friends through a local area network or take the battle to the internet, allowing fans of the series to easily determine the king of the arena.
While the gameplay is essentially straightforward, the game does offer a small number of abilities that can create strategic battles. The inclusion of an attack that temporarily freezes your enemy and the ability to erect a short-term shield around your vehicle is an added gameplay component that can tip the game in your favor if you utilize them correctly. Both moves are available to every vehicle, allowing you to combine these mischievous moves with your vehicles specific capabilities to become the ultimate destruction machine.
The controls for Twisted Metal: Head-On are remarkably touchy, making for a difficult and occasionally frustrating experience for first-time players of the game. The learning curve for mastering the games controls can be anywhere between fifteen minutes through to an hour, resulting in many gamers likely throwing the game aside due to pure frustration before they can master the tricky controls. Once you have managed to master the controls, however, the touchy controls are certainly a welcomed addition, allowing you to nimbly maneuver your vehicle through the dangerous arena.
Visually, Twisted Metal: Head-On is certainly far from impressive. The in-game characters offer little detail jagged body animation. The vehicles also offer little detail, most of which are quite blurry. The arenas, on the other hand, do offer a satisfying level of detail, creating some pleasingly immersive worlds that are further complemented with a large number of environmental items being completely destructible.
The games sound sticks true to the series crazy and dark nature, with heavy metal and rock beats beating out of the PSP whilst in game and during cinematics. The appropriate selection of music further contributes to the crazy gameplay that is offered.
Twisted Metal: Head-On is an enjoyable title for any destruction derby fan, while other gamers will struggle to find any true gameplay value. The lifespan that can be gained from the game is also questionable, as the repetitive gameplay will likely tire most gamers quickly. The end result is a game that will be enjoyed by fans of the series, while other gamers will quickly lose interest in the games repetitive and quirky nature.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.