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Twisted Metal: Black
Graphics: 9.8
Gameplay: 9.9
Sound: 9.5
Control: 9.4
Replay Value: 9.8
Rating: 9.7

  Twisted Metal is back in full fledge with an absolutely cruel and perverse title that is guaranteed to entice you into itís utterly disturbing world of destruction. We, of course, all remember the TM series. In most aspects, it portrayed solid gameplay and detail that we expected from such a game, and was presented without hesitation in the first two chapters of the series. However, the overall presence and feel seemed to slip drastically with the installation of TM3. Singletrac had pushed the limits of the Playstation with both TM1 and TM2, and brought us two great titles that incorporated excitement and suspense. Just as we were getting our last fill with TM2, it is announced that Twisted Metal is coming out with a third installment, TM3. A new developer has signed with the series, guaranteeing to bring the ultimate destruction title that we have ever seen. 989 Studios was dedicated to intense advertising schemes and promotions that made every single gamer aware of its existence in the Twisted Metal franchise.

   However, what was delivered on release day was an out of date, poor excuse for a game that quickly drew comparison to its far superior predecessors. TM3 lacked a new feel that desperately needed to be looked into, and innovation that obviously 989 Studios could not provide. Another attempt was then made by 989 Studios with TM4, and in a way, I guess, they succeeded. A drastic improvement to its original attempts, TM4 was a fresh breath of air in almost all aspects. Although an improvement to TM3, I still felt I needed more. In my opinion, TM2 was still the champion in every facet, but it seemed like such an aged product. It was just waiting to be improved upon, laughing at its competition from 989 Studios. Well, friends, let me tell you, TM2 has just been absolutely shattered, and the once arrogant manner it presented, has been turned to indefinite fear compounded with bitter vanquish. Laughter has turned to into piercing screams, only accountable by one source, Twisted Metal: Black.

   With one of the best games to ever grace the presence of the PS2, TMB has gone back to its roots. The developers of the original two Twisted Metals have come together with Sony to form what is now known as Incog Inc. Combining both incredible originality and the sheer power of the PS2, Incog Inc. has been able to recapture the love of car combat, and put a twist on the game that will terrify and astonish you. Not many games on the PS2 have been able to accomplish the incredible feat Black has gone through. While including mesmerizing graphics and gameplay, it has thrown in a story that captures every emotion and sensation that a gamer could hope for.

   Visually, Twisted Metal: Black is as good as it gets. It has not only been able to provide extreme details in characters and their vehicles, Black has put together a vast environment that will astound even the perfectionist of design. You will literally get lost the first time you play Black, and will destruct in confusion wondering how Incog Inc. was able to construct such an immense and infinite stage. The battlegrounds include the Junkyard, Suburbs, Freeway, Downtown, Highway Loop, Prison Passage, Snowy Roads, Drive-In-Movie, and Skyscrapers, with each stage being entirely gorgeous. Almost every environment has a distraction or deterrent that will either disperse intentional damage or complete devastation to your vehicle. Also, with the Snowy Roads, Highway Loop, and Skyscrapers, there is the sometimes unavoidable possibility of falling to your immediate death, so precise driving and keen instincts are a must when experiencing TMB. Whatís ingenious about the entire situation is the incredible feel of satisfaction as that last enemy is destroyed. Every fatality is beautiful in its sick brand of splendor and exhilarating to experience. No detail is left out, and all signs of pop-ups are nonexistent, with each background providing the most real and original stage of play you can imagine. Black is the ideal title for the fifth version of the series, and integrates an emotion that cannot be duplicated. The presence this game has shown is revolutionary, and gives the darkest, most twisted feel of any game Iíve ever played. It is difficult to even express the sense of awe this title has given, or even illustrate the magnificence Incog Inc. has been able to accomplish. This is truly a game you have to experience to appreciate.

   The game centers around a contest of destruction that is organized by the leader of the game, Calypso. Each assessable character is hand picked from Blackfield Asylum and contains their very own unique vehicle that includes Billy Ray (Junkyard Dog), Preacher (Brimstone), Agent Stone (Outlaw), Mr. Grimm (Mr. Grimm), John Doe (Roadkill), No-Face (Crazy 8), Bloody Mary (Spectre), Dollface (Darkside), Raven (Shadow), and Sweet Tooth (Sweet Tooth). Also contained in the game are hidden and locked characters including Black, Cage, Axel, Mr. Kane and Son, and Raven. For every set of levels you complete, there will be a boss waiting to strip you of your confidence. By no means are these characters easy, and will require you to use strategy, when possibly only blind demolition was necessary before. Minion and Warhawk are your barriers to unlocking the next portion of your movie, and provide an incredible amount of fulfillment when concluded. Every kill was a relief, and the defeat of Warhawk was amazing. The game plays magnificently, and each character provides a horrific look into their past.

   I will warn you, a few of these videos are upsetting enough that you may want shield your eyes, and prepare yourself for an utterly repugnant visual. I, however, enjoyed every piece of film and felt elated at their disturbing past. I was ready to venture into their world, and was intrigued to continue each level. The first couple of levels will require you to get through seven characters, while as you move farther into the game, eight will be your goal. Your character will include three lives with the possibility of picking up health items and entering a power-up station for complete reparation. Scattered amongst the levels are various weapon possibilities that include homing, fire, power, gas can, ricochet, ENV, special, reticle, SAT, and zoomy. Also incorporated into each level are turbo additions that can be essential to skill based attacks. Every element in TMB is important, and contributes to incredible gameplay that will allow you to cherish your PS2.

   I believe one element that may be overlooked in Twisted Metal: Black is the soundtrack. From the beginning teaser of "Paint it Black" to the wonderfully orchestrated blend of gothic composition, I was surprised at the effort that went into this game. Incog Inc. could have put together a below average soundtrack, and hidden it behind the sounds of destruction that are apparent in TMB. This, however, was never a possibility in Incog Inc.ís strategy of conduct, and they have delivered a soundtrack that is perfect to this genre, and basically propelled the game into a level that is untouchable. The voice acting in the game is also incredibly deep, and made obvious that a lot of time and endeavor was put forth. With a story as captivating as Black, the voice acting does not stumble, and presents a gamer with something they really can enjoy. The sounds of battle, however, are what make this game so electrifying. Every weapon detonation is perfectly detailed down to the high pitched blast it conducts once released. The amount of realism depicted from explosions is remarkable, and adds to the complete enjoyment this title possesses. It seems every aspect of TMB is executed perfectly, and every sound implemented with precision.

   The control setup offered in Black will appeal to every gamers taste and preference. It varies from Classic to Run Ďn Gun to Control Freak. Classic offers the weapon choices at the shoulder buttons, with either the right analog stick as your gas and break, or square representing acceleration, and circle delivering brake. I, however, prefer Run Ďn Gun. This option allows R2 as gas and R1 as break, and still offers the right analog stick. Machine gun is then enlisted in the square button, and special weapons are obtainable by pressing X. By this method I have my forefinger right above gas or break, and the ability to access both weapon options with the quick move of my thumb. Control Freak is also an option with X representing gas, square being machine gun, and circle your special weapon. As you might imagine, the control of the game is perfectly executed, and each tight turn is gracefully obtained with the sheer level of realistic determination. As you venture through the immense environments, never will you struggle with the controls. They are easy to pick up, and a cinch to master. The game responds to your actions as quickly as you think of them, and in one word this game is FAST! Every character seems to zip through the levels, and a quick blast of turbo is guaranteed to stun the slow at heart. Rack up another point for Incog Inc., theyíve downright outdone themselves again.

   Not only is the game excellent the first couple times through, every character is like a new game, and will keep you enthralled for extreme periods of time. Hidden characters and secret levels are also a nice addition to the game, and will cause you to go back into a level to search for that one last feature you hope to obtain. Since it's release, TMB is the only game that has been played in my PS2, and most likely it will be the same for you. Phenomenal detail and outstanding gameplay has made this a must own for the PS2, and basically the one game that stands above the rest.

   If you havenít noticed, Twisted Metal: Black is astonishing. It is a completely different game compared to any other in the series, and is head and shoulders above all PS2 games out right now. I donít remember the last time I have been this impressed with a game, or as fascinated to continue playing. Let me just tell you, car combat is back, and if you own a PS2 this game should be in it as I speak. TMB will provide some of the longest, most enjoyable gaming you can experience on a console. You may never be more impressed with an action title in all your life.


7/2/2001   Matthew Stensrud