Send in the Clowns!
Ouch! That last bomb really hurt! You speed away from the crumbling Eiffel Tower, hoping to avoid further damage to you car. In a fit of pique you blast your way into the Louvre. Ah hah! Ponder this missile, Mr. Thinker! How about some napalm on those Sunflowers!? What are you smiling at, bitch?
Crass, yes. Vulgar, yes. The bane of western civilization, perhaps. It's Twisted Metal 2: World Tour the sequel to last years smash hit video game for the PlayStation. TM2 is bigger, more destructive, and just plain weirder than the first.
World Tour is named for its international theme. Combatants can now travel to all kinds of foreign lands.... and blow them up. There are 8 settings this time, but they vary widely in quality. None of them really have the charm and complexity of 'Suburbia' from the first game.
Some of the notable levels include New York, a much improved rooftop battle where you can blast your way through the glass walls of skyscrapers, take a dip in a swimming pool, and blast the outer garments off the Statue of Liberty (not a joke. we swear its true). In Holland you plow through crops and pastures, past spinning windmills while you pursue the enemy. Paris, my favorite level, lets you blow up the Eiffel Tower, punch holes in the Louvre, and run over all the mimes you can find (no one will hear them scream).
Other levels have Aztec temples, the streets of Hong Kong, and the ice floes of Antarctica. The award for the worst level goes to the poorly named 'Moscow' which is just an arena with signs in Russian around the edge. The background is even filled with mountains! Check out a MAP sometime, SingleTrac! There are no mountains anywhere near Moscow!
The best addition to the levels is the increased interaction with the terrain. There are lots of secrets to find by blasting holes in buildings, and destroying stationary objects. You can even blow up things in the distant background, like the HOLLYWOOD sign.
There are old friends, and some new entries among the cars this year. Classics like Warthog, Spectre and Mr. Grim remain, but the Semi, the Ferrari and others are gone. In there place are a Purple hearse, a leaping dune buggy named Grasshopper, an F1 aptly named Twister, and more. Mr. Slam is my favorite new entry: a giant bulldozer that picks up cars in its front claw and repeatedly smashes them into the ground. Easily the most satisfying special weapon around. The strangest new car (and I use the term loosely) is just some poor shmuck strapped in between two giant wheels. His name? Axel of course.
The weapons are nearly the same as before, but with slightly different executions. There are no freeze missiles and mines to pick up. Instead each vehicle has a power bar that allows you to perform 'advanced moves' using certain d-pad combinations. These include the freeze missile, the mines, launching a glob of napalm, and leaping straight up into the air. The rest of the weapons must be collected, and then are fired normally.
These 'moves' can be used strategically in combination with other attacks for maximum effect. For example: Mr. Slam is big and slow, so shoot a faster enemy vehicle with a freeze missile first and you have plenty of time to smash them with your giant claw.
The graphics have been moderately improved. While they are still nowhere near as smooth as a game like Wipeout XL, it is no longer so difficult to spot the enemy at a distance. The terrain has been better texture mapped so that busy backgrounds don't confuse the eye so easily.
Twisted Metal 2 also lets you choose between two different split-screen modes: side-by-side or top/bottom. This is a terrific new option, because both views have different advantages and disadvantages. TM2 is also still one of the best 2-player games out there (that can be played without the link cable), allowing you to play deathmatch or cooperatively.
The sound is quite good. Every crash and blast sounds perfect. All the special weapons have unique sounds to accompany their use. The background music is still dominated by average heavy metal guitar riffs. The Paris scenario even has an electric guitar version of Frere Jacques!
One especially noticeable flaw in this game is the terrible full motion video sequences. They are animated (sort of) and look like they may have had a total budget of about $100. While I didn't really care about the opening sequence, the ending sequences are just as bad! Its horribly anti-climactic to fight your way through all the levels, defeat the final boss (Dark Tooth) and then get treated to a LAME video clip.
Despite the bad FMV, Twisted Metal 2: World Tour is quite a good game. Mayhem a'plenty for all. Playing alone, the 12 different vehicles (plus two hidden) will keep you coming back for more. And nothing beats blowing up your friends.