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When a demented icecream truck trundled onto the stage at Sony's E3 2010 press conference, the crowd went - appropriately - mental. Twisted Metal is the longest-running PlayStation-exclusive franchise (a fact which surprises everybody, you're not alone), running strong ever since the first game crashed onto our screens back in the days of the original PlayStation.
Predictably, David Jaffe's disturbed baby quickly earned itself the sort of notoriety that comes with letting a bunch of insane criminals out for a demolition derby, complete with ridiculous vehicles and over-the-top weaponry - and the seven different iterations of the game since 1995 (not counting the three cancelled releases) haven't changed that perception one bit.
Now, at the helm of Eat Sleep Play, Jaffe and his team are back, more than a decade after the last home console outing (2001's Twisted Metal: Black for PS2). They're packing an all-new take on the title, a next-gen reboot which puts the killer clowns and psychotic dolls in picture-perfect HD, and crams even more power under the hood.
A few things have been pared back, with a storyline set in an all-new universe. Single-player mode focuses on merely four characters, rather than the 15 who have appeared in previous incarnations. In the 2012 Twisted Metal, you'll be looking after Twisted Metal: Black's Preacher and Dollface, as well as old favourite Needles Kane / Sweet Tooth. Multiplayer involving factions based around each character, plus a fourth, lead by The Preacher.
That said, there's 17+ vehicles on hand, and each one has both a primary and secondary attack, adding a serious variety to multiplayer attacks (Sweet Tooth's trademark demonic icecream truck can shoot flaming heads at people, or - if that's not enough - morph into a giant flying humanoid robot firing at anything in its path).
Also, um, not all of the new weapons are cars - ESP has made the controversial decision to include helicopters this time around. It won't necessarily please everybody - until they play a few rounds and either shoot one out of the sky, or pick off opponents with an airborne sniper. It's a handy addition.
Now. Anyone who's played the original - or any of the home console incarnations of Twisted Metal will attest: Multiplayer is where it's at. You can relax: The 2012 reboot of Twisted Metal offers a veritable treasure trove of different multiplayer modes, including deathmatch and "Nuke Mode", a very interesting take on capture-the-flag. Following the tradition of taking things well over the top, Nuke Mode involves giant faction statues suspended from helicopters, and people being shot out of missile launchers.
There are sixteen character types to choose from, hand-picked from the four in-game factions. The Preacher has returned, leading a gang of like-minded Holy Men, as well as some Sweet Tooth-inspired Clowns, Mr. Grimm's spooky Skulls, and Dollface is in charge of the decked-out Dolls.
There are eight main maps included in Twisted Metal, each one further sliced into four smaller pieces. "Smaller" is all relative - they're still kinda huge (and chaotic), including multiple different terrains in each sector, including buildings just crying out for demolition (or immolation), tree-lined streets and pedestrian-packed walkways. One notable inclusion: New York City, in the middle of the holiday season.
Of course, each one is packed full of the sort of hectic mayhem we've come to know, love and expect from the series - to the point where they may blur together if you're not paying attention.
Further showing that the team understands its fanbase, ESP has included old-school, four-player split-screen multiplayer, in addition to the online modes newer players will appreciate.
The fact that we're receiving Twisted Metal as a fully-fledged Blu-ray release is testament to the level of support shown by the game's fans.
When it was first revealed at E3 2010, Eat Sleep Play's big name title was simply meant to be a PlayStation Network direct-to-download project, nothing big. But fans wanted more, prompting Sony to bump up the project's priority not once but twice, due largely to fan demands and the number of gamers begging for more Twisted Metal storied content.
...and here it is, after a short delay. Twisted Metal is due out on February 14th (Valentine's Day!), exclusively for PS3. Believe it or not, this one's been rated MA15+ for Aussies, so we shouldn't have any trouble finding it on local shelves.
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Jimmy the Geek