Previews

Twisted Metal gameplay preview

Hands-on: CVG battles through 16-player vehicular carnage

This reviewer has never been the biggest of Twisted Metal fans. Its appeal just somehow passed me by - as it did many other Europeans, I seem to recall.

But its debut on PS3 certainly caused a stir in Los Angeles last week - and after a quick blast at E3, I felt I came away understanding why.

David Jaffe and his team at Eat Sleep Play have created one of the most mental multiplayer experiences we've had on PS3. Forget MotorStorm. Although a single-player campaign is confirmed, it's the 16-player multiplayer battling that was playable on the show floor.

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The games were split into two teams; the Dolls and the Clowns. The selection of vehicles was small, but showed some of the mental variety that'll be in the game. Even in the minimalist demo, we could blast around in everything from an American muscle car to a motorcycle or a helicopter.

Yes, a helicopter. Flying vehicles are now in Twisted Metal, and although we went for safety in the familiarity of the muscle car, the helicopter players flying over head raining rockets down on everyone else certainly seemed to be having a good time. It's the usual drill though - heavy vehicles lack in handling and acceleration but pack a punch and can take a beating, and it's vice-versa for the lighter vehicles.

Launching into the game, the map was flipping enormous. We were expecting a few open fields and couple of buildings; this map had a small suburban village with gas stations, shops and houses - all destructible, multiple open plains, a school building with a full interior that you could actually enter, a full football stadium... and that's just the parts we remember.

Floaty power-up icons are dotted around the map - it's the usual affair of the more powerful pick-ups being tucked away in the tougher-to-reach, out of the way areas. We used rockets, machine guns and made various explosions we could barely comprehend in all the chaos. And then there's the sniper rifle.

That's one of the multiple weapons used by a second character that leans out the passenger side window to add to the carnage. The sniper is a charging weapon - the longer you lock onto an enemy the more accurate it is when you fire. When fully charged, you're guaranteed a headshot, which takes out the victim in one blow.

But there are multiple defenses at hand, too. Double-tapping the accelerator gives you a quick boost of speed, which essential to get you in and out of battles when necessary. Then you have a shield - one of the rechargeable weapons in this new Twisted Metal. Activating your shield gives you temporary immunity but it doesn't last long, and must be left to recharge before it can be used again.

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A stun beam is another one of your recharging tools - if you're chasing an opponent you use this to temporarily stun them, allowing you to get an easier shot at them.

Although relatively small, the demo was packed with many nuances that were hard to take in with the brief session attendees get on it. Long queues and short play times meant we couldn't fully explore the nooks and crannies of the level, try all the weapons and vehicles and really go to town with the new strategy.

But by the very fact that we were overwhelmed with the amount of control and strategic options that were open to us, and the size of the level we were in, was just another promising point to the demo.

We look forward to getting dirty with this one.

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