Twisted Metal: Head-On

Arun Subramanian

The first Twisted Metal games were equal parts sunshine and mayhem. While colorful, they possessed a morbid sense of humor and were addictive gameplay experiences.

Publisher: SCEA
Genres: Racing
Subtitle: Head-on
Price: $39.99
Multimedia: Twisted Metal
Platforms: PSP
Number of players: 1-8 s
ESRB rating: Teen
Developer: Incognito
US release date: 2007-07
Amazon affiliate

Although I fully expected the PSP launch library to include titles from successful franchises, I have been somewhat surprised at the franchises they've chosen. Clearly, this has become the day of RPG, FPS, and sports as far as popular games go. I know there's a PSP Grand Theft Auto in the works and there was a Tony Hawk game for the new handheld, but certainly the choice has been made to launch the console with a relative glut of games from franchises that aren't nearly as popular. Ape Escape, Wipeout, and Ridge Racer are not nearly as pervasive franchises as they once were, and I would have expected Sony to take advantage of current trends instead of delving into their history for game ideas. That seems like much more of a Nintendo move.

First appearing on the original PlayStation, Twisted Metal has always existed in its own space. An odd amalgam of driving game, third-person shooter, and fighting game, it took the concepts presented in the battle modes of the classic Super Nintendo title Mario Kart and expanded them in a way Nintendo couldn't even imagine. The first Twisted Metal games were equal parts sunshine and mayhem. While colorful, they possessed a morbid sense of humor and were addictive gameplay experiences. Although the early PS2 entry in the franchise, Twisted Metal: Black, tweaked the art direction to be much grimmer, it is to the original Twisted Metal aesthetic that the newest entry in the franchise subscribes.

The point of Head-On is simply to destroy other drivers and vehicles in a sort of weapon fueled demolition derby. Power-ups and weapons are scattered throughout the arena, and play is both destructive and frenetic. The one-player story mode is amusing, if a little short. (It doesn't take much time to take any given character through their particular story.) Although this is certainly fun, especially to established fans of the franchise, the real treat here is taking the game online.

Twisted Metal is one of the first PSP games that allows true play over the Internet. It's only been in this generation that consoles have allowed for online play, and Microsoft has led the charge as far as elegant design and ease of use. It's pleasantly surprising then to find that Sony has implemented online play so well in their handheld. As Wi-Fi hotspots become more ubiquitous, online handheld play is sure to take off. Twisted Metal: Head-On is simply a proof of concept.

As previously mentioned, the Twisted Metal franchise has a long history. However, game mechanics have not changed much throughout the series. The most annoying holdover from previous Twisted Metal games are the energy moves like the freeze ray and the shield. Although these moves greatly increase the strategy of play, the use of the D-Pad to enter the moves seems rather antiquated. Clearly it's a holdover from the classic fighting game days of yore, and in the context of making what is essentially a car fighting game, it made sense up front. But personally, I find such a control scheme a little archaic in the context of the third-person adventures I've become much more accustomed to in the last few years.

This one is a worthy installment to the series, and a fun game in its own right. Although it's surprising to me that it would be one of the first titles available for the PSP, it's certainly a fine launch title. Further, it serves as an introduction to what is sure to be one of the bigger selling points for the PSP as time goes on, namely online play.

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.