Early in the Playstation era of console gaming, SingleTrac developed a game called Twisted Metal. It's a juiced-up, cartoon demolition derby with teeth. You pick one of an assortment of whacked out road vehicles, including an insane ice cream man and a monster truck, and engage in combat. Every car comes standard-equipped with machine guns, it's own special weapon, and no airbags or seatbelts. The game plays like a vehicular gladiator arena, with one of several interesting levels to choose from, each with its own assortment of fragile objects and pedestrians at your mercy. The last car (or cars, should it be co-op) wins.

Although the graphics of this game are nothing spectacular, it has what counts, playability. It's fun.

The two player mode is spectacular. You soon forget about the limitations of split-screen gaming as you and your buddies race around wildly, trying to beat the chassis out of each other. You even begin to appreciate the ability to look at your opponent's screen as you watch yourself careen into him wildly with a ram attack while firing a barrage of missiles, freeze rays, napalm, and bullets in his general direction.

Twisted Metal 2, also by SingleTrac, followed and improved greatly on the game. After that, things only went downhill as SingleTrac went tits-up and another studio got the production license, going on to create Twisted Metal 3 and 4, which resemble fan fiction novels in the way that they've got some elements of the original two games, but they're not as much fun and it's evident that the developers just didn't have the love or the talent of the original developers.

Fortunately for fans of the original two games, most of the people from SingleTrac banded together to form a new studio and have just put out Twisted Metal Black. Now I have a reason to buy a Playstation2. Anybody wanna loan me 300 bucks?

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