In the interest of being period appropriate, I drank Surge and had Dishwalla playing in the background whilst tackling today’s game.
Twisted Metal is one of those odd relics from a bygone era, seemingly only able to exist in a time when vehicle controls hadn’t been mostly standardized and games could be sold on the idea of carnage and attitude alone. Arguably it was most effective in 3 second snippets during old Playstation adverts in an attempt to communicate a sense of chaotic bedlam that this new world of polygons was to provide.
I found value in it despite the rather transparent nature of it all. My attraction to storytelling will often let my mind fill in the holes of vapid narrative, using only surface details to convince myself they’re worth engaging with. There was a brief point in my life when I cared that Yellow Jacket and Sweet Tooth were related, even though it didn’t matter in the grand scheme of, well, anything. It’s the same way in which I can lose myself in a old B-movie or sci-fi series. The original cut FMV endings from the first game gave off a vibe of something hastily assembled but comically macabre, an aesthetic we’ve intentionally drifted away from in an attempt to make games feel more “legitimate”, something beyond a back alley hobby consumed by man-children. It’s a feeling I miss.
Twisted Metal was a victim of that evolution, limited by the novelty of its genre. Car combat simply doesn’t exist anymore, gone the way of the extreme sports title and the light gun shooter. It’s sad really, since it feels like more could be done with that space, especially given how prominent online multiplayer is now. The 2012 reboot felt like less of an attempt at a revival so much as a whimpering letter of goodbye to a long-dead corpse, lacking so many of the things that made those initial games so attractive. We didn’t need gripping self-serious cut scenes. We needed flaming clown bodybuilders fighting ghosts that can somehow still drive cars.
Part of me still needs that, as I think there’s something untapped there. Maybe the cyclical nature of the things we create can lead us back to that promised land again, only sans the Rob Zombie and with better controls. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in a world where shirtless dudes trapped between two giant wheels can’t still play.