Review: Twisted Metal: Head-On: Extra Twisted Edition

TwistedMetalHeadOn ETW Box Art.jpg Platform: PS2
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: Eat Sleep Play
Release Date: 2/5/08
Genre: Car Combat
Players: 1-2

Who would’ve thought that the most content-packed, value-filled game of the year would be a $20 PS2 port of a soon to be three-year old PSP game? I certainly wouldn’t have, but low and behold that’s just what Twisted Metal: Head-On: Extra Twisted Edition is.

To call Extra Twisted a port, though, is to sell it short. While the original gameplay and presentational core of Head-On from the PSP makes up the bulk of the playable content here, including all the same levels (in addition to the exclusive new Transylvania Castle stage), characters, stories and modes (except for online play, it didn’t make it to the PS2 for obvious reasons), there’s so much more to this package that in a way it’s kind of like a director’s cut collector’s edition for the Twisted Metal franchise as a whole.

Alongside the Head-On content, Extra Twisted also presents Twisted Metal: Lost, a small collection of four never-before-scene stages from Twisted Metal: Harbor City, the planned sequel to Twisted Metal: Black that never saw the light of day after key members of the development team perished in a plane crash a few years back. Lost has no storylines to follow, but the available stages just so happen to be four of the best the series has ever produced. Stadium Slaughter, a demolition derby arena and adjacent parking lot environment, has been my favorite of the bunch so far with its tighter confines that keep the action more constant and in your face, but the others – Suburban Terror, Carnival of Darkness and Port of Death – are just as memorable.

Simply having Head-On and Lost side by side on a single disc is great. It’s a joy in and of itself to switch between the two and sort of compare and contrast the different styles and character rosters. Both represent the absolute best the car combat genre has to offer – hard-rockin’, white-knuckle vehicular warfare at its finest right here, folks – but they are actually quite different. To me, Head-On feels like an extension of Twisted Metal 2 (which is still widely regarded as the best game in the series). There’s just a pacing and colorful nature about it that resonates with a more distinctive charm. Head-On also steps outside the series norm a bit and shows off new features like car/weapon upgrades and mid-battle mini-games leading to unlockable content and more weapon power-ups.

Lost, on the other hand, continues the darker themes of Black with a much gloomier artistic edge about it. It’s straight up car combat without any of the minor frills, like the mini-games and whatnot, and it’s also a little tougher in terms of difficulty, I think. So there’s a good contrast between the two to keep you flipping back and forth.

Aside from the playable content, Eat Sleep Play has loaded Extra Twisted with a shit-ton of bonus features that are sure to put a smile on any Twisted Metal fan’s face. And not just the usual run-of-the-mill bonuses either, but stuff you’ll actually want to watch and read through. The video extras are by far the best, including a thoroughly enjoyable behind-the-scenes documentary in which David Jaffe, Scott Campbell and other members from the team share their insight on the entire series, and a collection of “lost” live-action ending videos from the first Twisted Metal, originally written and directed by Jaffe, that are so obscenely awful they’re downright hilarious.

The Sweet Tour is another cool bonus, enabling you to control Sweet Tooth himself within a rudimentary third-person 3D engine that was meant to be used in the Black sequel for on-foot missions. It really is nothing more than a virtual menu, as you simply walk (and occasionally jump) through a couple of environments collecting “Sweet Tooth heads” that each give an interesting factoid about the series and some concept art or production photos. Even more concept art can be found in the pack-in art book, and once you’re done flipping through that there’s a code waiting at the end that entitles you to a free download of The Twisted Metal Symphony, a 42-track soundtrack containing songs from Twisted Metal 1, 2, Black and Head-On. It’s already on my iPod, that’s for damn sure!

With all this fun gameplay and awesome content, there’s no reason not to own this game. Whether you’re a Twisted Metal diehard, a car combat fan or simply a gamer in the market for a fine all-around PS2 title, the Extra Twisted Edition is a title that MUST be in your collection, simple as that.

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Pros:
+ Two distinct versions of Twisted Metal to play; car combat just doesn’t get better than this
+ So much fun gameplay and bonus content for only $20
+ Excellent documentary and classic TM1 ending videos

Cons:
– Online play didn’t make the port; multiplayer is limited from the original Head-On overall
– Even with the texture and 60 fps upgrade, the game doesn’t look any better on PS2

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!