Twisted Metal: Black
Fear, sickness and darkness? Hey, that's fun!
Twisted Metal: Black is the fifth instalment of the popular series of combat car games on Psx. Featuring strong characters and a deep gameplay, the first two episodes, developed by SingleTrac, are still considered two of the most original car action games for Psx. With the following episodes, Twisted Metal 3 and 4, the development team 989 took the place of SingleTrac and the overall gaming experience lost good part of its strength and originality. Adding to that, the PSX simply didn't have the power to handle a game that was supposed to be extremely fast and graphically impressing at the same time. Anyhow, for the joy of all the fans, the development team from the first episodes is back with a new menacing name, Incog. Inc., and the new console has all the power to make of Twisted Metal: Black a wonderful game.
Twisted Metal: Black is completely different from all the previous instalments of the series. Great care was used to give this game a sick , dark attitude. When I say "dark attitude" I'm not referring just to the graphics but to the whole gaming experience that Twisted Metal: Black conveys.
While the story stems from the preceding episodes, this time each character hides in his twisted mind memories of a shocking, black like hell past that you will uncover playing the Story Mode. While these stories are not exactly original ( in fact they can be considered a small anthology of stereotypes from horror and thriller movies) , they succeed in holding the attention of the player. All the anti-heroes of Twisted Metal: Black have in their own special way a reason to win the Twisted Metal Tournament and this surely makes this game more addictive.
This time Calypso, the sick man behind the Twisted Metal tournament, decides to give a group of inmates the possibility to escape from the Asylum in which they are imprisoned. In exchange they must take part in the next tournament. Calypso grants the winner and survivor of the battle whatever he desires.
The game features fifteen playable characters; of them, ten are available when you play the game for the first time while the others need to be unlocked in different ways. As usual, each of the characters in Twisted Metal: Black has his own unique car. Through one of the greatest selection screens ever seen in a fighting title ( because Twisted Metal can be easily considered a fighting game like Tekken Tag Tournament), you can choose your hero and see a flawless, frightening intro movie. From the very beginning you are completely absorbed by the black atmosphere of the game. Sweet Tooth, the psychopathic clown, is back with his dirty Ice Cream truck; Axel has a new Two Wheeled vehicle; Raven drives an hearse; Mr. Grimm has an armoured motorcycle. You'll find out by yourself the other vehicles, I don't want to spoil everything. Here is important to underline the fact that every vehicle/character behaves differently on the battle field. Some vehicles (like Bloody Mary's Spectre) are extremely fast but have ineffective defences; others (like Black's Manslaughter) are nearly indestructible but you'll control them with great difficulties. You have to train in order to make the best out of the car you've chosen. This adds a good variety and an interesting strategic attitude to the game.
Twisted Metal: Black is a difficult game. It's fast, violent and it never gives the player the possibility to rest for a second. The AI of your enemies in the single player mode is terrifying. They are always able to find you and to understand when you are in big troubles. Fortunately you can select different control settings to find yourself comfortable with your Dual Shock 2. Anyhow, the basic control setting worked fine for me. Using the left stick you can steer while the right stick serves to step on the gas, brake and reverse. The four main buttons are used for the Rear View, Hand Brake and Tight Turn. The buttons on the back of the controller (L1,L2,R1,R2) are used to handle the weapons while pressing the right analog stick ( that's what is called R3 button) you can speed up your car with a bit of turbo. Many special moves and energy attacks are available too. Special moves are quite easy to perform and they are peculiar to each character. For example if you press the fire button while you are Sweet Tooth your Ice Cream Truck will turn into a deadly mech. Energy Attacks are other special moves that the characters have in common. It's not easy to use them because they require special button combos to be activated and because they drain part of your power. Anyhow, it's fundamental that you learn these moves; they're useful and really spice up the game.
The game features several gameplay modes both for the Single Player and the Multiplayer. The single player mode offers three different ways to play the game. In the Story Mode, the most important in the game, you choose one character and you have to beat the game through eleven different levels. This is the only mode in which you can enjoy the stories behind the characters. At the beginning you see a prologue that presents your character; after you've defeated the first boss, you can see another movie. At the end of the game you can finally see the ending movie, in which your character express is wish to Calypso. The other single player modes are Endurance, in which you have to fight and kill as many opponents as you can in one-on-one battles, and the Challenge mode, where you simply choose a battleground among the ones you've unlocked in the Story mode and start playing. All these single player game modes are extremely amusing, also thanks to the excellent AI of your opponents. It's not easy to find a combat car game that is truly addictive in the single player mode, but Twisted Metal: Black can completely engross the player.
With these premises, there is no need to say that the multiplayer modes are an exciting experience. Using a multitap you can play with three other friends. There is a nice co-op mode (I've always dreamed playing a car combat game together with a friend), that's identical to the story mode except you can invite a friend to join your adventure and a wonderful Deathmatch mode, that is the one to choose if you want to enjoy a four players mayhem. In the Last Man Standing Mode, the one I prefer, you and a friend of yours can select a team of vehicles and start fighting each other until all the opponent's cars are destroyed.
The levels featured in Twisted Metal: Black are , in a word, marvellous. That's where this game from Incog. Inc. really shines. They're unbelievably huge, gigantic dark levels where you can really get lost. You'll need hours to learn the maps of these levels. The city is built in all its slightest details and all the levels are full of secrets, hiding places, secret passages, hidden characters and much more. During the game you can shot and destroy nearly everything you see on the screen. All the levels are completely interactive and that's the key that let Twisted Metal: Black enter the second generation of games for PS2, together with Konami's Zone Of The Enders.
The only problems I've found playing this game are many glitches that sometimes may occur playing both the multiplayer and single player modes. Here at Ps2Fantasy we have played the game for hours and hours and twice has happened that we had to restart the system because the game seemed locked. I was thinking there was some problem with our Ps2 but after I've made my researches through several gaming forums and FAQs related to this game, I can say that many other players are experiencing similar problems with it. Anyhow, these are not big issues and they occur hardly ever.
Overall, Twisted Metal: Black brings Ps2 owners an incredible gaming experience.