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A step back from BLACK

By Steve Lofman     February 08, 2002

The TWISTED METAL franchise has been around nearly as long as the original Sony Playstation. Traveling across two platforms, TWISTED METAL has made a name for itself as a fun yet violent multiplayer game with loads of options and weapon upgrades. It seemed that the world couldn't get enough TWISTED METAL , until now. The latest incarnation of the franchise is now geared towards children, who before couldn't take advantage of the series due to the "Teen" rating. Is this a good thing?

The story of TWISTED METAL: SMALL BRAWL is simple. A young boy named Calypso, who is the neighborhood bully, becomes tired from pushing around all the other pre-teens on the block. Instead of using brute physical violence, he decides to hold a contest to separate the "men from the boys." He breaks out his remote control car and races the other kids from the neighborhood. This does not satisfy him, though, for he - as well as many gamers out there - is looking for something more satisfying, more... violent. This is when he gets the idea to put small weapons atop each car to make things interesting. Calypso claims that whomever is to beat him will be granted one wish.

The main difference between this new TWISTED METAL and its predecessors is that the player now controls a remote control version of the character. This poses many problems. Since the characters are so much smaller than in previous versions, objects within the environments are rendered much bigger. This puts a huge burden on the developers. Since objects within the environment are much bigger, this forces a new level of detail onto programmers that the original Playstation simply cannot handle. Many games, sadly, take a large step backward in terms of graphics and the newest TWISTED METAL is no exception. The graphics, described in one word, would have to be muddy. The framerate seems to be unnecessarily depleted from previous versions. This doesn't make sense considering how much detail is left out from previous TWISTED METALs. The polygon gaps are so big that the player often will get stuck in a corner not realizing that the rendered polygon in front of them was actually a wall, instead of an open portion of the play field.

The control for TWISTED METAL has been worked on since the original. With minor adjustments, it seems that the tweaking had paid off and control was now at its most fluid. When Incog Inc. Entertainment got their hands on this series, it seems the first thing they tried to do was make the cars almost completely uncontrollable. When turning right, the player has to judge when they would theoretically make the turn, and when the game will actually allow them to turn. It seems the only aspect of control that is at all fluid is the accelerating and braking.

There really isn't much to this new TWISTED METAL . The concept is simple: drive around and blow things up. Even with such a simple premise, it seems what could have been a fun and simple game has been made into a clumsy and ugly title. Now that the Playstation 2 is out, along with the other next generation consoles, one would think that by now graphics on the PS1 would have been just about perfected according to what the system can handle. Developers, it seems, should have found out by now how many polygons can be onscreen at once in an area only so big in order to keep the framerate at a respectable level.

When it all comes down to it, TWISTED METAL: SMALL BRAWL is a title not worthy of the Playstation's good name. Renting this would simply put the gamer out of $4. If someone were to sit down and start playing it, they would swear they were back in 1994 and had just picked up a Sega Saturn controller.


Grade: D+

Platform: Playstation

ESBR Rating: Everyone

Genre: Car Combat

Players: 1-2

Save: Yes

Developer: Incog Inc. Entertainment

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

Suggested Retail Price: $34.99




Graphics: D

Sound: C

Gameplay: D-

Replay: F

Fun Factor: D

Reviewer's Wild Card: C

Overall Grade: D+




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