Twisted Metal: Black – PlayStation 2
Platform: PlayStation 2
Developer: Incognito Entertainment
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release Date: June 18th, 2001
Genre: Vehicle Combat, Simulation
Nerd Rating: 9 / 10
Reviewed by Rhutsczar
Let’s set the scene real quick. You have lost everything that is dear to you, whether through murder, an accident, or just Death making his final visit. What do you do? You are lost and hopeless, striving to find an answer to your final question…“Why me?” There you are, curled in a ball of pure insanity on the floor of your cell in the Blackfield Asylum. A mysterious man, someone you have never seen before but yet seems familiar, beckons you close. He invites you to participate in his wonderful tournament of vehicular manslaughter, and if you come out as the survivor you will have your answer. Welcome to the despicable world of Twisted Metal: Black.
The fifth game in the Twisted Metal franchise, Twisted Metal: Black is like the much darker, antisocial cousin that sits in the corner and you should be very concerned about. While there is very little in the way of story, just like the majority of vehicle warfare games, what we are left with is interesting if you want to read through the lines. On the surface, Black tells the story where you can be one of many degenerates that participate in this blood-soaked, chaotic mess of a game put together by the possibly mystical Calypso. Sounds simple right? However, if you do a little bit of research once you complete the game, you may have a completely different opinion. Once you unlock the mid-boss Minion’s campaign, you can see that all of his dialogue is encoded. Once translated, it let’s the player know that the events of Black didn’t actually happen. Everything that you see and that happens to you is a lie, all happening inside the mind of serial killer Needles Kane. You may know him as the mascot of the franchise, Sweet Tooth.
This actually makes more sense the further we analyze Black‘s features. For example, the character roster for the game is absolutely disgusting. The majority of the characters are inmates of the Blackfield Asylum and Black lets us dive as deep as we want into their backstories. I will list a few of my favorites below, just to give you an idea:
- Driver: John Doe, Roadkill: Perhaps one of the tamest characters in the game, John Doe is an ex-FBI agent who loses his memory after failing to disarm a bomb.
- Driver: Charlie Kane, Yellow Jacket: A lonely cab driver on the streets of New York. He is shot in the head by a disgruntled customer, but re-animated by his son.
- Driver: The Grim Reaper, Mr. Grimm: A re-occurring character in the entire franchise. In Black he is an army veteran that has become a cannibal after eating his best friend.
- Driver: Preacher, Brimstone: A crazed religious zealot, Preacher believes he is possessed after burning down his church with his followers inside.
- Driver: No-Face, Crazy 8: A former boxer whose face was disfigured after an easy title bout.
Alright, enough about the backstory. Where Black really shines is in game play. The game is incredibly difficult, with computer A.I being great both on defense and offense. This doesn’t even include the bosses, as they are absolutely brutal and won’t hesitate to just wipe away your existence. To top it off though, Black actually requires to use strategy in order to survive. Each character has an entirely different method required to master them, so you may be great with Crazy 8 but that could equal out to being complete garbage with let’s say Darkside. On top of that, the controls are incredibly easy to learn. After I saw Black in the PlayStation store, I was able to pick it up again with ease. It has been a long time since I first inserted the disk when it came out in 2001.
Even though Twisted Metal: Black came out during the early life of the PlayStation 2, the graphics are surprisingly good. The environments are designed well, fitting the dark almost Gothic theme that has been created. Animations are nice and crisp, even down to each of the individual compartments on the outside of each vehicle that stores our wondrous supply of weapons. The creators wanted to make Black visually appealing, so they even made the interesting touch of detailed particle effects. The amount of time put in designing Black is not lost in its visuals.
Alright, just like with every title I want to wrap things up by talking about the soundtrack. Twisted Metal: Black doesn’t sport some kind of epic score that suitable blends with the chaos and murder that Black offers. No, the opening theme is what stands out the most. Black borrows the intro of the classic Rolling Stones classic “Paint it, Black” and it fits perfectly. It then turns into a heavy, gritty industrial beat that just showcases the madness that we are about to step into. It is not only a fantastic song, but it is creepy as hell when paired with the sadistic smile of Sweet Tooth at the main menu.
Alright, that is it. We’re done. If you need a classic PlayStation 2 title that you need to relive immediately, be sure to give Twisted Metal: Black its well earned due diligence. Black will not only surprise you, but it will keep you entertained and disgusted all at the same time. Unless you are like me, then you will just be de-sensitized from the whole experience. However, if you are unable to dig up your PlayStation 2 and a copy of Black, then you can download it from the PlayStation store for under $10.
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