Twisted Metal was recently adapted into a live-action TV series on Peacock. While the show’s received polarizing opinions, it renewed interest in the game series itself.
Twisted Metal is a series of vehicular combat games that are all about going fast and shooting your enemies. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, the game centers on a tournament held once a year. Think Mad Max, except with less desert and more city blocks.
The prize for this race? Any wish the winner desires.
Twisted Metal (1995)
The first game set the foundation for the story to come. The year: 2005, time for the 10th annual Twisted Metal tournament. Twelve competitors prepare to battle to the death across LA to obtain their greatest wish from the mysterious Calypso.
The game introduced iconic characters like Specter and Mr. Grimm, as well as the game’s breakout star, Sweet Tooth. To win, players race through six levels, with each bearing more players than the last.
For 1995, this game was groundbreaking for its speed and carnage. With a variety of weapons and tracks to use to your advantage, players weren’t bored.
While the controls and difficulty of the game are out of date since it’s been almost 30 years, Twisted Metal remains a classic worth checking out. Just make sure you have your foot on the pedal and your fingers on the trigger.
Twisted Metal 2 came out in 1996, less than a year after the first game. Many fans consider it one of the best games in the entire series. Not only was it a huge jump in terms of visual graphics, but the gameplay also leveled up. The story introduced new characters and vehicles, along with new locations. Basically, it expanded the game in every way.
Set one year after the last Twisted Metal tournament, Calypso decides to take a world tour. The battlefield stretches from Hong Kong to Paris to Russia. New York City hosts the final battle.
The controls of Twisted Metal 2 were refined to be a lot more smoother than in the first game. The maps extended to contain secrets that unlocked new weapons and hidden Easter Eggs. The original 12 racers from the first game all appear, alongside five new racers. The tortured Axel who strapped to two giant wheel and the gothic horror embodied in Shadow make for epic racing.
Twisted Metal 2 ended up becoming a huge commercial success and was an example of what the game series should be. There’s even that one feature of messing with the Statue of Liberty that never gets old!
Alas, after the IP switched over to a new developer called989 Studios, the series started to, well, crash and burn. No pun intended.
1998’s Twisted Metal 3 is arguably one of the worst games in the series. The fact thatRob Zombie continued making the music for this game is about the only positive this game has going for it.
Set two years after the last game, Calypso once again tasks twelve racers with a death match across the world. This match even includes a fight the North Pole near Santa’s Workshop.
Yeah, that should set your expectations.
The game maintains a cartoony and less gritty tone when compared to the previous entries. Even though the other Twisted Metal games were silly in their way, there were darker undertones that helped give the game depth. However, this game dove straight into camp. Making things even worse, Sweet Tooth doesn’t even look like Sweet Tooth!
In addition, the gameplay managed to be somehow worse than even the first game. The controls were a mess. Driving was nearly impossible. The maps were convoluted and didn’t make much sense. Plus, the enemy AI makes nonsensical decisions.
Ever since then, fans have completely disregarded this game and see it more as a spin-off than an actual sequel.
Twisted Metal 4 (1999)
989 Studios pumped out one last Twisted Metal game before handing the IP over to another company years later. Twisted Metal 4 may not be as good as the first two, but it’s a huge improvement from the third game.
Sweet Tooth stepped into the role of Twisted Metal‘s new star, basically replacing Calypso. If that wasn’t crazy enough, Rob Zombie became a playable character in the game! A rock star in a Twisted Metal game. Plus, 989 Studios added a dozen new original characters.
The levels are much better designed than in the previous game. There was even the option of customizing and building your cars to play with. Does this make this game better than the first two though? Nope. Still, it’s way better than Twisted Metal 3.
Twisted Metal: Black (2001)
The PlayStation 2 was no stranger to great games on their console. Twisted Metal: Black was not just the best game on the PS2. It was a full return to form for the franchise, back to the dark comic book roots that the original games started. Not to mention it was the first game to have online multiplayer matches as well!
The game takes a darker turn while still keeping up with the satirical humor that the series started with. The twist is that the contestants were all patients of an insane asylum and scouted out by Calypso. Each racer has a backstory shown with some amazing voice acting.
Gameplay of Black was really well made, too. To this day, no other game has been able to top it.