Reviewed: April 15, 2005
Released: March 21, 2005
Twisted Metal: Head-On is much more than a port of the PS2 game. While it borrows heavily from the core concepts that made this series the cult favorite that it is today, Incognito has trimmed away the bad stuff and piled on the good stuff to make this one of the best installments in the series and one of the most original games currently available on the PSP, and it even comes with its own military arsenal in case anyone is still looking for WMD's.
Climb behind the wheel of one of 14 heavily armed metal monsters of destruction and battle for supremacy in 12 wild arenas. Destroy the enemy and earn new and more powerful upgrades as you advance through the single-player story mode or challenge up to five other players in online or Wi-Fi multiplayer modes.
If you have ever played Twisted Metal before then youíll feel right at home with the PSP version of the game. The single-player mode drops you into a series of arena-style gladiator matches where cars and trucks armed with machine guns and all sorts of secondary weaponry fight to remain the last car running.
The gameplay is quite challenging despite the designers making a lot of the weapons auto-tracking. I certainly didnít might the guidance tracking on the missiles and rockets. It was hard enough to aim my machine guns for any sustained bursts let alone try to land a rocket shot from the far side of an Olympic size stadium.
In addition to acquiring new weapons you can also secure all sorts of cool upgrades for your vehicle, but those are all lost if you should die during the match. There are also special pads hidden within the arenas that trigger certain mini-games that will earn you additional bonuses if you can complete the challenges within the given time limit.
The story mode takes just under an hour to complete, but there is ample incentive to replay the game with each of the various cars and trucks. There are tons of unlockable weapons and bonuses plus a really cool cinematic for each vehicle at the end of the game. In addition to completing the story mode, if you can find the secrets hidden in each of the levels you can also unlock numerous secret characters.
Multiplayer is probably the strongest aspect of Twisted Metal, and while this is easier to pull off on a real console with one copy of the game and two controllers, Head-On delivers enough wicked fun that anyone you know who owns a PSP will likely buy a copy just to challenge you in any of the eight multiplayer modes. There is even a two-player co-op mode with multiple difficulty levels.
With support for up to six drivers, and countless options to tweak any of the multiplayer modes, there is more gameplay potential here than can be measured on a calendar. The levels are large enough to accommodate a full party of drivers, yet still fun for two. The possibilities for fun and destruction are limited only by your imagination.
Twisted Metal has always been a bit dark and Head-On doesnít stray far from the wicked sense of humor that we have all come to grow and love, especially when it comes to stylized graphics, both in the game design and the movies.
The cutscenes, including the riotous opening movie and each of the ending movies for the characters are a wild mix of extreme animation and surrealistic CG that borders on realism. Itís truly a unique visual style.
Gameplay graphics are simple yet effective. Each of the vehicles are large and unique enough to distinguish at relatively close range and when they are too far to see they are indicated with colored indicators, both on the radar and the 3D view.
From a technical standpoint, the graphics are much simpler than they were on the last PS2 game, but everything still looks good and with all of the flashy weapon and subsequent explosions, rocket trails, and glowing power-ups, all in massive arenas with numerous cars racing around, the framerate is flawless, even in the most violent of circumstances.
The music is great during the opening movie then slips into the background and become rather forgettable. It certainly takes a back seat to the excellent sound effects of whooshing rockets, ratcheting machine gun fire, the throaty purr of an engine, and the violent explosions when your car erupts in a fireball.
The speech is terrible, but itís so bad that it is funny which is surely what the designers were going for. Iíd get caught laughing at the dialogue and people would start to collect behind me and start watching over my shoulder and start laughing right along with me.
The single-player game is good for a dozen or so hours but the multiplayer modes will keep you playing until your battery goes dead, then youíll plug in and keep playing. There are so many secrets, weapons, and characters to unlock in this game that youíll be busy for at least a month unearthing every last item.
Twisted Metal: Head-On is an awesome game targeted toward a specific type of gamer, the multiplayer gamer. If you are in this for the single-player experience then youíll probably want to rent or at least have a friend standing by you can sell your copy to when you are done. Unless you plan on playing online or wireless the show is over after a couple days.
For everyone else who has at least one friend with a PSP and a copy of the game, this is a must-own title that will keep you locked in the throes of classic auto-combat until you, your PSP, or your car runs out of gas.