Twisted Metal 3


Review by Will Matson



Graphics: 3

Sound: 8

Gameplay: 3

Overall: 3

Twisted Metal 3 is the third game in the Twisted Metal series for the Sony Playstation. The first two games helped establish Sony as the #1 company in the hardware race, a position they have held ever since. The third in the series has been criticized by many and is regarded as a large blemish on the series. I have never played any of the other games in the Twisted Metal series so I have nothing to compare this one to. So I will be reviewing it independently on its own terms. I am going to quickly say that all of the bashing this game has received is well deserved. In fact, this game has singlehandedly soured me on the whole car combat genre turning me off of it completely.

The graphics are below average. The levels suffer from a sloppy design and lack of decent detail. The cars are not anything special from a graphical standpoint either. Of the ten levels in the game, only London and the final level of the tournament look nicely done. Egypt and Tokyo are probably the worst. Egypt looks a lot like the Old West level in the old Atari Jaguar game, Club Drive except the Old West beats out Egypt by a significant margin. The colors are ugly and plain and there just isn't much to the levels overall. There is a hidden area or two in each level but otherwise you can usually cover the entire level and see everything there is to see before the first car is even eliminated. This game looks like it could have been done on a 32X, 3DO or the previously mentioned Atari Jaguar.

The sound is much better. The sound effects are pretty generic but who cares really? The voices in the game do sound good, other than some cheesy dialogue (which you see in almost every video game anyway). The music does sound real good, you have a lot of guitar instrumentals (ala Vai, Satriani, Moore, etc.) and also songs by Rob Zombie. You even have the option to turn off the music if you don't want to hear it. For me, hard rock and heavy metal is a natural for a driving game. The sound was by far the best part of the game.

You have some options in this game such as a Tournament, in which you can be assisted by a computer ally. The Tournament features eight stages and is basically a story mode. There is also the Deathmatch mode, which is meant for both practice and also multiple player mayhem. If you find the game too challenging, particularly in the Tournament mode, there are codes you can enter which will give you unlimited special weapons, infinite health, allow you to control Sweet Tooth or Minion in the tournament and also, my personal favorite, prevents the computer cars from picking up power-ups to recharge their energy.

The game play, to put it bluntly, is an embarrassment. The steering for the cars is very hectic. You will often crash into a wall or some other structure just by navigating the levels normally. Your car will then end up taking damage from opponents while trying to steer away from the wall or turn yourself around. Twisted Metal 3 is fast paced but there is absolutely no flow or fluidity in this game. If your car is not crashing into walls, it is constantly flipping over because your car is overly sensitive to even the slightest bump. Your car also is constantly flipping over on sharp turns or when you make a tight corner, both of which are necessary and natural moves used to escape enemies in most games. So much for the ‘realistic physics’ that developer 989 Studios arrogantly bragged about before the release of this game. In both instances that means you have to wait several seconds for the computer to slowly put your car back onto the road, you aren’t even given the opportunity to do this for yourself. Oh yes, I almost forgot, and while you are turned over, that is more opportunity for the opposing cars to nail you.

There are three difficulty levels, the last and hardest being Pure Lunacy. The other two difficulty levels are playable to an extent but on Pure Lunacy, you will encounter what are arguably the cheapest computer opponents in the history of gaming. I challenge someone to play the game at this level and find a game with cheaper computer opponents. It’s really too bad because you have to play the game at this level to see the best ending. At this level (Pure Lunacy), the computer has a seemingly unlimited supply of special weapons and can fire several bursts of ammunition/weapons (any type) in the time it takes you to fire one. The computer relentlessly hits you when you are tipped over or stuck. As for strategy, it only gets worse. You see, no matter where you position yourself on a course to try to ambush the computer (even with your back against a wall), the computer always finds some way to get behind you (or at least into a blind spot) and start firing at will. For all your trouble, you are the one who ends up getting ambushed.

Also, during the tournaments, just when you think you have destroyed all the computer cars a few more will ‘regenerate’, which just painstakingly extends the length of time needed to finish this game. In the last level of the tournament, though, there is a tip to keep the cars from regenerating (hint: destroy five red generators on the walls of the course, some are hidden, otherwise the cars will regenerate forever). Yet another annoying feature of the game is that power-ups and special weapons also regenerate. This isn't so bad for you but makes your life a living hell in the tournament, especially if you play at Pure Lunacy. Enemies at this level, as mentioned before, attack you relentlessly, not letting up for a second.

However, the minute they get low on health, they turn tail and run like hell for a power-up every single time. This becomes a vicious circle because every time you get close to destroying a car, it will recharge itself and force you to go through the trouble of doing it all over again. The only way to stop this is to chase them down and get to them before they reach the power- up, which can be a chore due to the flawed driving controls which are complimented by the flawless driving of the computer car. It makes no use to grab a power-up to keep a computer car from getting it either. There are often two or three in each stage and the opposing car always knows exactly where to go to find the next one anyway.

As you can expect, most of the opposing cars take forever to destroy. If you combine all of this with the regenerating enemy cars and all the times you get stuck, you can find yourself spending upwards of thirty-plus minutes on a single course. One more gripe is that most enemies just freeze you over and over again, leaving you helpless, while you are bombarded with ammo from every other car in the tournament. It can often take you several seconds and most of your life bar to escape a freeze. I also wondered, if this is a tournament meant to determine one winner, why do the enemy cars rarely attack each other and always gang up on your car?

On the plus side, each car does have a creative special weapon (I like Minion’s missles the best, unlock him and see for yourself). Another plus is that each character has their own individual ending, which basically involves tournament organizer Calypso granting them a wish while screwing them over at the same time. It can be pretty humorous. Two such examples: The characters from the Outlaw car tell Calypso that they wish the streets were safe. Calypso grants this wish but in this safe environment, cops are no longer needed so the brother and sister cop team are out of a job. Another example is that Minion wishes to spend eternity in ‘Hell’ so he is sent to spend by Calypso to spend the rest of his days in Hell....., Michigan. 

This game is flawed in virtually every sense of the word. I remember once reading in EGM magazine that the one redeeming feature of a 989 Studios game is its ability to make you laugh (note: due to its very careless and sloppy programming, not its humor). There is nothing funny about this game in any way, although the programming is sloppy and careless, the blunders in this game are not funny at all. If anything, playing this game will make you furious due to the cheap hits and also the thought of the money wasted to purchase it. I seriously recommend avoiding this game like the plague.

If you ever lose your mind and feel the need to pick it up, please try it out first, I am begging you. Sony should seriously take steps to improve the quality of the majority of their first-party software (989 is a division of Sony) although you know they likely never will because they have hot exclusive games from third-parties such as Square and Konami to bail them out of any console war. After all, why rock the boat? As I previously said, I never tried out any other Twisted Metal game but I don’t intend to after seeing this one. The only way a person could get me to play another game in this series would be to get me seriously drunk. One hour of playing Twisted Metal 3 is more frustrating than being married but going twelve months without sex.


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Last updated: Sunday, October 16, 2005 03:36 PM