Admit it, the first time someone described the mechanics behind the (now) infamous Twisted Metal franchise you were perplexed. The idea of combining vehicles with a fighting game mentality you were sure the idea was doomed for failure. Then once you got your hands on SCEA’s original you began to realize that the people behind it obviously had a serious passion for gaming. Of course since then we have moved onto greener pastures and even the original developers have seemed to have forgotten about this once beloved franchise – then comes Twisted Metal: Head On Extra Twisted Edition. Certainly a mouthful to say this budget PS2 title feels less like a port and more like a love letter from the original team to long-time fans of the series.
Now for anyone who has followed the series since it’s inception you likely know that Extra Twisted Edition is simply a port of TM: Head On from the PSP launch. SO the question then becomes is there enough extra “Twistedness” here to warrant a second purchase. The answer is a resounding yes; with a collection of never before released levels from the never-released TM Black 2, a lengthy documentary featuring the original developers and a slew of artwork and factoids to unlock this edition more than justifies it’s price tag. In fact if you consider yourself a fan of the series it would be a crime to pass up this obvious love letter to the fans.
Of course for those of you who skipped out on the initial PSP offering then the PS2 version will feel like a dream come true. Make no mistake, the core game is still Head On with slightly improved visuals and of course a much more maligned controls scheme. Special moves that were a chore with the analog nub are now a breeze with the PS2 (or PS3) controller. The game feels much more at home on Sony’s console. The game play is classic Twisted Metal and feels more like parts one and two as opposed to the atrocities that we prefer to forget known as three and four.
The Lost Levels portion is where fans will likely spend a majority of their time if for nothing more than to get a glimpse of what the sequel to Black would have been like. Apparently the idea for the game was an open-world scenario with each level somehow tied to the previous one. While there are only four arenas to choose from they range from simply average such as the beginning stage to absolutely amazing such as the Carnival of Darkness complete with cryptic coasters and creepy water rides to wage carnage upon. It is also worth noting that Jaffe and his team at Eat, Sleep, Play have doused the game with tons of hidden goodies including a quick nod that a new TM is on the way to a much larger “cell” powered console.
As for Head On the only noticeable change to the core game is a lack of online options. While the PSP offering had multi-player support for up to six combatants both online and local wirelessly, the PS2 iteration sadly only supports two players via split-screen. It’s not often that a port to a more capable system delivers a downgrade, but honestly for the budget price it is a small price to pay. There is a co-op mode and standard deathmatch, but on a whole it is disappointing to see a lack of any type of online functionality.
Visually TM: Extra Twisted Edition feels random, mostly due to the fact that it is comprised of so many different pieces. Think of it as a Frankenstein to the series and you will learn to cope with it a bit better. The Head On portion looks better than the PSP version, but still not quite as sharp as Black. The Lost Levels feel very close to the original Black, but with a subtle lack of polish. The frame rate remains consistent across both titles and for the most part the game looks and feels like a TM game, but it also makes us drool even more for when Jaffe and company unveil their next chapter in this long overdue franchise.
At the end of the day Twisted Metal Head On: Extra Twisted Edition is a must have for fans of the series. The sheer amount of content squeezed onto the disc is easily a steal for fans and for those of you not yet tainted by the twisted greatness of this once beloved franchise there has never been a better time to jump in. If you are looking for a great PS2 title or simply cannot wait to get your hands on the next chapter in the series Extra Twisted Edition offers up a nice round of foreplay for anyone with a love for sadistic clowns.