Welcome to the first installment of Retail Resurrection, where I’ll be taking a look at some PlayStation series that have been placed on definite hiatus the last few years. We’ll discuss why that could be and in addition analyze the series as a whole up until now in the hopes of shaping an answer to the bigger picture: is the series dead, or is there a realistic path that may yet lead to a sequel?
First up, none other than my favorite game series of all time: Twisted Metal. Created by David Jaffe and Scott Campbell all the way back in 1995, they envisioned a unique and creative title that would stand out from other games being produced at the time. The end result was High Octane, a car combat game whose plot was as follows: over a dozen contestants would clash in a series of vehicular battles on the streets of Los Angeles, the winner being granted any prize they requested no matter the quality, quantity, even feasibility. Money, immortality, time travel; all were viable options. High Octane was renamed Twisted Metal before release and since then, the series has produced nine additional titles across four total platforms, all the while becoming a true juggernaut for Sony. The latest installment was the simply-named Twisted Metal (2012), whose reception was initially solid. However, severe online connectivity issues evaporated the community within months and soon after the online was reduced to a complete ghost town. Since TM 2012, David Jaffe has gone on create a new studio team (The Bartlet Jones Supernatural Detective Agency) that have since produced Drawn to Death.
Twisted Metal concept art, likely a depiction of TM2’s ‘Amazonia’ level. [Image credit: Twisted Metal: The Dark Past]
With TM’s backstory explained let us first examine the reasoning why Twisted Metal indeed has the potential to be granted a sequel. There is one broad fact in play, and it is that Twisted Metal is the longest-running PlayStation exclusive franchise of all time; an accolade that is no minor deal. To amass this feat the series has had a lot of support by Sony, an inference that is supported by the fact that despite Twisted Metal 3 and 4 both getting sour reviews (due mainly to a different team working on them) the series persisted right into Twisted Metal: Black (2001), a critically acclaimed title. So acclaimed, in fact, that in the PS2-on-PS4 feature’s debut, Black was among the very first to be ported in 2015. Fast forward, and despite the series being in a standstill aside from the port, series regular Sweet Tooth was featured as the mascot for the latest PSN holiday sale of 2016. Perhaps to some a mere small footnote, yes, but despite all the more relevant options on hand such as Nathan Drake or a Titanfall mech, the additional fact that Sweet Tooth was chosen continues to help convey a clear message: Twisted Metal is embedded in Sony’s footprint; an early grassroots series that has helped solidify the PlayStation console and one that Sony is ever happy to showcase among other classic hits.
Twisted Metal: Black concept art. [Image credit: Sony & Wired]
On the opposite side, if you’d want to play Devil’s advocate, you would have quite the easy time because the reasons against a sequel are straightforward as well: Twisted Metal is dead center in an unpopular genre, relatively speaking. Fan demand for a car combat title is simply negligible compared to games in, for example, the racing and military shooter genres. Being the most famous within the genre, the proverbial CoD of car combats, surely helps TM to fare better, but the simple fact is that pure overwhelming demand for this series will never reach Sony’s doorstep. In addition, the aforementioned disaster on the network side of the latest release does not exactly mean that the possibility of a new TM has a lot of momentum behind it.
Twisted Metal (2012) boss concept art. [Image credit: Sony & Kotaku]
Despite Twisted Metal indeed being enveloped in a niche genre and its creator venturing to other projects, Twisted Metal in my estimation still makes up just a little too much of PlayStation’s DNA for Sony to ignore. It’s likely that its number is called up at some point; whether in a full-fledged game or PSN title role, with or without Jaffe, with or without multiplayer, is truly anyone’s guess. There is a caveat though: while I do indeed think we haven’t seen the last of TM, I think we have for a good long while. Due mainly to the genre and latest release, Sony isn’t necessarily in a rush to grant a sequel. Don’t be surprised if we’re in the next decade, in the next console generation, until we even get so much as an announcement. On that note, to leave off with Jaffe’s own words after he tossed some extra TM content onto his blog in 2012:
“Hope the TM fans out there have dug some of the ‘what could have been’ stuff from what I am fairly certain will be the last Twisted Metal game made. At least for a very, very long time!”