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Question: Do you love Twisted Metal: Head-On?



« Last Modified by: MoshfieldAsylum on: 04/08/22 at 11:42:30 »

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Do you love Twisted Metal: Head-On? (Read 231 times)
MoshfieldAsylum
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Do you love Twisted Metal: Head-On?
04/07/22 at 22:45:00
 
TMHO is sort of the forgotten important TM game, isnít it?

When TM Alliance was established back in 1999 by Mortimer/Mortitude/Mort/Mortea/Mortimizer, the great need from a fanís perspective was that perfect sequel to TM2 World Tour which we didnít get from Twisted Metal 3, Twisted Metal 4, or Rogue Trip, or Critical Depth; all good games but none were great follow-ups to TM2 World Tour.
Singletracís spiritual spinoffs RT & CD lacked ramming, & 989ís TMIII&4 lacked TM-style mobility.
Then the successful reboot Black happened, alongside a spinoff with RC cars, TM Small Brawl, and both great titles... great follow-ups to TM2, yes, but not sequels.
And then there is HEAD-ON; the monkey in the middle of two very different eras of Twisted Metal.
On one hand, itís the first and only made-for-mobile Twisted Metal game
(*We are not counting TIGER ELECTRONICS Twisted Metal 1995*)
TMHO brings back the vehicular cast of Twisted Metal 2 (minus Minion), plus Crimson Fury for some TM1 flavor, and does the whole Ďworld tourí thing, so there is a lot of variety with the battlegrounds, and as well with the music. The spirit of TM2 is present throughout, and some TM3 spirit too with Egypt.
And like Twisted Metal Black Online TMHO was given lots of online match options, even more options considering the team modes, so TMHO certainly accommodated for the player, allowing for a lot of options for online play, from turning healths off, to using relics, etc.
Fans of the PS2 port of TMHO would be disappointed at the lack of online play for sure, but there are certainly lots of interesting aspects to the PS2 port in regards to the extras, TM Lost, the addition of Transylvania and the convenience of not having to unlock CF, Slam, HH, and Axel.

But on the other hand,
TMHO just has the feel of a dumbed down Twisted Metal game, perhaps largely due to the fact it was designed for a mobile device, but beyond that things like getting vehicle upgrades (*optional online) from destroyed vehicles cheapened the challenge. The AI in TMHO isnít particularly engaging, so TMHO really comes across as a game meant to be played online (or 2-player for ps2 users).
Also, the design of the game is confusing. I guess maybe the guilt of taking Harbor Cityís place in the series got to the team, as they designed Sweet Tooth and Calypso more in the style of their TM Black counterparts. And Cousin Eddy is a joke of a replacement for Minion even though I have nothing against Eddyís vehicle. All we get of Minion is a corny name reference in a stupid poster in the baseball stadium map. Minionís absence is even more infuriating in the PS2 version of the game as TM Lost also leaves out Minion without explanation; imagine that, Minion being left out twice in the same game!
Also, mini-gamesÖ I donít mind them being included just for fun, but when it comes down to having to complete them to unlock a vehicle, itís total poop in my opinion.
The whole point of a mini-game is to relax, not be stressed.

But I think the problem Twisted Metal Head-On has is that in trying to be the good/better follow-up to Twisted Metal 2 World Tour, it didnít create enough of a unique identity for itself, beyond being the TM2 tribute band of the series, and itís become kind of the forgotten TM game as a result. The original aspects of the games are usually things that are mocked, like ATV, Cousin Eddy, Tower Tooth, the Marcus Kane=Needles Kane story.

Despite all that, I think I love Twisted Metal Head-On. Itís flawed, sure, but so is Twisted Metal 2 World Tour. But the spirit of the game, despite its odd TMB design inspiration for Sweet Tooth & Calypso, is true to Twisted Metal 2 World Tour. The game-play may be different, that is no doubt, but Twisted Metal 2ís game-play differed from Twisted Metal í95 as well. If anything, that is kind of the saving appeal of TMHO, underneath the TM2 skin it wears, it is pretty much a unique Twisted Metal game. It may not be the most hardcore Twisted Metal title, but itís a good gateway game into the series just like Twisted Metal 2 World Tour was for myself when I was a teenager. So, all that being said, I think people should appreciate TMHO more, or at least as much as the other popular Twisted Metal titles.
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Re: Do you love Twisted Metal: Head-On?
Reply #1 - 04/10/22 at 07:37:00
 
Of all the TM games, this is the one I'm most torn on. My reaction to it is so nuanced.

I'm trying to figure out the best place to jump in, and it's hard. Where do I even begin?

It should be pointed out, that for many fans who prefer the single player experience of TM, who never play against friends, never play online - this one is often pointed out as the BEST TM game. Incognito was asked, midway through Harbor City, to make a game for the PSP. They quickly put TMHC on hold intending to come back to it, and in less than a year pushed out a first gen PSP game with a story mode, online play, local wireless ad hoc, coop mode, lots of unlockables. Many, many casual fans absolutely adore it. That's saying something.

It's a technical marvel when you think about it, and I'm one of those people who think they did MOSTLY good work on the story. While it pays homage to TM2, clearly Incognito wanted to go forward with a universe that fit with Black and would then fit with the following TMHC as well. In the era of Marvel today we're all excited about the multiverse, but Incognito's goal was a multiverse of sorts before it was en vogue. Finally, Incognito actually listened to TMA and added MOST (though oddly not all) of the features we always knew they needed. Online team modes, balanced relics, the ability to turn off healths . . . to this day it is the best feature rich version of an online TM. TMX was oddly sparse comparatively.

So where's the controversy? Well, there are a number of issues. One that just has to be pointed out, if they hadn't been asked to make a PSP game they almost certainly would have finished Harbor City. Which do you prefer? A PSP game or a PS2 game? To me the answer is obvious. That's a bit unfair though - they could have done both. Blame Warhawk, David Jaffe, and Heartland for that failure, but that's a tale for another time.

There are other issues though. While the PSP game runs remarkably well, under the hood there are some issues that come about because of its rushed nature. The relics, a glorious addition that was an imbalanced and chaotic mess in Black but fixed here - had a glitch rendering them eventually all but unplayable. Time and testing would have caught it, but 11 months wasn't enough time. Further, the controls often messed up on you because they didn't have cancel features built in, and crashing was often a problem.

Then there's some odd story decisions that ring stupid to me.  Marcus Kane and Needles Kane being the SAME person felt like a violation of the only really consistent narrative we had going between all of the games. it disappoints me to this day, and fans who point it out as a cool thing make me want to throw a shoe at them.

Finally, for most of the hardcore multiplayer fans, this is where the game has come to be judged harshly by history. With the view of mobile games supposed to be short quick bursts of time, and the belief that Black's vets were too powerful, Incognito rolled out a great equalizer in this game with undodgable homing missiles, nearly the same for a new idea called "swarms," which were essentially Black's reticle on crack, and special weapons now much, much harder to miss with.

The result was significantly dumbed down gameplay that felt like Twisted Metal: Nursery School. What's worse, when ESP was asked to port it to the PS2 they essentially used it as their template to TMX and you can see it's amped up homing ideas running under the surface of its beefed up cousin.

So how are we to judge Incognito's last TM swan song? I can't help but always wonder where they WOULD have taken the series. It almost assuredly would not have been like TMX. A hybrid between Black and HO? Weapons CAN miss but it's a lot harder than Black? We'll never know, sadly. That's what hurts the worst. It feels like a middle child that could potentially lead to the best version of a series yet . . . but that final game never was allowed to be. Incognito crumbled and with it that glorious future.

These days I have very little desire to play TMHO. It brings almost nothing to the table. I played the single player and I enjoyed it for what it was. The AI was stupidly easy, but it was decent fun. I don't need to keep experiencing it though. I rank it below Black, below TM2, below TMSB in this regard . . . but higher than the others. That's something.

What about the multiplayer? While I might boot it up again someday as a nostalgia hit, it brings nothing to the table for me and this is the NUMBER 1 reason I love Twisted Metal. IF I wanted to experience the best of its version of gameplay, I wouldn't pick up TMHO, I'd pick up TMX. It has just enough nuance to be more interesting. Otherwise, it's going to be Black, TM1, or TM2 that actually have significant counter play.

Still . . .† I often . . . and I mean often .† .† . think back on the hype of TMHO. The hype leading up to it was awesome. A portable TM game as deep as Black (which it wasn't - but it could have been, and we hoped it was) seemed like nothing short of the greatest idea on Earth. Also, I often think fondly of my time in cars, or travelling, or late at night in my bedroom playing people against online or my brothers. I spent a good 8 months with the game before my PSP was stolen. It wasn't perfect, but it was fun, and I enjoyed it for the imperfect experience that it was. I'll always remember those good times, even if I don't have the same desire to play it year after year like I do with Black.

I'll always miss you Incog. You were TM developer perfected, even when you slightly missed the mark. TMHO was . . . flawed . . . but it is a part of the universe, and it was the only really active flame keeping the series relevant from 2004 - 2007. *Raises Glass*



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