Twisted Metal: Head-On
Game Info
Platform(s)
PSP
Publisher
SCEA
Developer
Incognito
Genre
Vehicle Combat
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Violence, Drug Reference
 
Grade
The Good

• Plays and feels like Twisted Metal 2
• Huge levels and lots going on
• Tons of unlockables
• Multiplayer is a blast

The Bad

• Graphics and music could use some more effort
• Can't play mini-games on their own

 
Grade
A

The Twisted Metal series has seen many incarnations since its first appearance on the Playstation. The first two games showed an oddly perverse sense of humor and fun despite the fact that you were killing other drivers and doing massive amounts of collateral damage. When the series was handed off to 989 and then almost put to rest due to a steep decline to mediocrity, most fans of the first two were ready to write the series off. But, then, the original team (or parts of it) came back as Incognito (then Incog, Inc.) and brought to life Twisted Metal: Black, a dark, brutally apocalyptic sequel that was long in coming. The only drawback was that the sense of twisted humor was gone and the game was pretty depressing. Fortunately, Incognito appears to understand that and has finally brought a spiritual successor to the original two games.

Gameplay-wise, Head-on is just like the previous installments. If you've played a vehicle combat game of any kind, you have a good idea of how this game plays. Players are given single player and multiplayer modes, including a story mode, challenges and endurance mode. In the story mode, players will chose one of a series of drivers and proceed through multiple stages, killing a set number of opponents. They will be armed with machine guns, weapons that can be picked up around the location and regenerating special attacks specific to that character. When choosing a driver, one will have to take into account their handling, speed and armor and most special attacks will take some time to really get the hang of.

Also available are button combos that are performed on the D-Pad which use regenerating energy to pull off. These combos do a variety of tricks, like freeze attacks, temporary shielding and laying down mines. Along with weapons, there are also boost pickups, which are largely necessary as they let you get places fast and even put out flames if you've been set on fire. Fans of the previous installments will find all of their old tricks intact in Head-on

During the story mode, which is more like an arcade mode with an ending for each character, players will find teleporters that take them to special minigames. These serve as a nice diversion, but it's a shame that you can't play these on their own. Along with the mini-games, there are a number of unlockables, including characters and locations, which is a nice bonus for those who love to unlock everything a game has.

Along with the single player modes, players can also play against other players, both locally, using the Ad-Hoc mode for Wi-Fi multiplayer or through the internet by way of a wireless router. Both modes are pretty easy to get into and give the game even greater play value. While playing against the NPCs can get old because of limited AI (they know how to get health but don't seem to do much damage, if any, to each other), playing against other people, especially when they're in the same room as you, is a blast.

When it comes to visuals and the audio portion of the game, Head-on feels like it's pulling straight from the original content while adding enough new polish to make the game feel right at home on the newer piece of hardware. Style-wise, Head-on shies away from the apocalyptic tone of Black and heads back to the more playful look of the first two Twisted Metals. The cars have a good bit of detail and show signs of damage the lower your health gets. Levels are deceptively huge and always have a ton of things going on. Visual effects and special attacks all have a satisfying effect when you unleash a monstrous barrage on your opponents. While the overall look works for the Twisted Metal style, the graphics do have some rough edges and certain aspects (like the humans running around on-screen) lack a certain depth that's sure to keep the eye-candy quotient down. The audio portion is likewise filled with enough good content tailored after the older games to make fans of the series feel right at home. Sound effects and the few voice-overs from the endings are done well and work for the theme of the game. On the other hand, the music tends to be forgettable, which is a shame because I always thought the music from TM2 really helped set the theme well.

If you have ever been a fan of the Twisted Metal series, than getting this game is a no-brainer. It's easily one of the best in the series and gives fans pretty much everything they've wanted out of the series. As a PSP launch title, you really can't go wrong here.

- - Vane

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