Developer(s) – SingleTrac/Sony Interactive Studios America
Publisher(s) – Sony Computer Entertainment
Director(s) – David Jaffe
Producer(s) – David Jaffe
ELSPA – Suitable for all ages
ESRB – T for Teen
Released two years after the original game back in 1997 following a development cycle of 16 months, Twisted Metal 2 was praised worldwide as a decisive improvement over the original game and garnished sales figures of almost 2 million copies in America alone. To me personally, not only is the second game indeed a significant improvement over what SingleTrac did with the first Twisted Metal, but it is most definitely also the best game of the original PlayStation quadrilogy, and among many, remains one of the most definitive experiences on the original PlayStation.
Graphics – 8/10
The major improvements made to the game’s graphics are not on the technical side, as in that respect, it’s just about on par with the original game; something that it was criticized for at the time. The major improvements lie in its conceptual design, with the Twisted Metal tournament now taking place throughout the entire world as opposed to simply being confined to Los Angeles. The track designs are also far more intricate as well, making for better gameplay in turn; something which would then become a series mainstay. The accompanying soundtrack is also the best of the series overall in terms of its original score. Although the later games would include a lot of Rob Zombie music, which worked pretty well for me as a fan of his, the concept of original composition is still a lot more impressive to me personally.
Gameplay – 7.5/10
The basic gameplay premise remains the same as the first Twisted Metal with deathmatches played over a series of rounds complete with an end boss. But what makes this game far better than the original is in its increased variety in weapons, and of course, the intricately designed tracks. Not only does it make for more fun, but it also makes for more challenge as well, but not to the point of it being inaccessible to gamers. Later entries would include new game modes, but what was included in this game was indeed a massive improvement over the original.
Controls – 10/10
What’s more, is that the minor problems with the first game’s controls have also been ironed out in the second, and no longer does the low framerate pose anywhere near as much of a problem. Again, this is something that would be further improved upon with both Twisted Metal 3 and 4, as both of those games are significantly less affected by in-game memory, but nevertheless, major improvements were made here that needed to happen if this series was going to go any further.
Lifespan – 7.5/10
As there are 14 characters in total in the second game, it can be made to last fractionally longer at 14 hours. Again, it may have been a good idea for the developers to add more game modes at this stage as opposed to later in order to offer players even more than what they were given with this, but the fact of the matter is that 14 hours was still a significant amount for a game of this type to last at the time, and I can’t bring myself to criticize it too much in terms of lifespan.
Storyline – 7/10
Another pretty sizable improvement made to the series with the second game was the expansion of its mythology and improved character development. in Twisted Metal 2, The Twisted Metal tournament had now branched throughout every major capital city on Earth as the owner of the contest Calypso has expanded his own empire globally. New and classic contestants return to hash it out for the title of Twisted Metal champion. The basic premise remains the same, but this time, cutscenes were added; albeit animated ones instead of full-motion video cutscenes as what was planned for the original game. The different endings overall are quite good; some can be taken relatively seriously, like Roadkill and Axel, and some of which are downright hilarious like Hammerhead and Spectre. The quality of the dialogue varies, but for the most part, the writers did a pretty good job.
Originality – 7.5/10
To begin with, the vehicular combat genre had already been re-popularized with the introduction of the first game, but what kept the second game is fresh was the introduction of some new gameplay elements, some new characters being brought in, and characters of lesser quality in the first game being shipped out, and obviously with the expansion of the Twisted Metal mythos in general. It was definitely more evolutionary and revolutionary this time round, but the concept was kept fresh enough for people to still be talking about this game over 20 years on.
Overall, Twisted Metal 2 is unanimously the best game out of the original 4 games, and still an experience that very much holds up to this day. A lot of its flaws can be forgiven, as it was a by-product of a time when the concept of detailed story in video games was still a relatively primitive idea, and regardless, delivered on the aspect that matters most; gameplay.