Some games are never quite given their due recognition for the greatness they contain. Whether through lack of marketing, developer abandonment, or omnipresent bugs and glitches, some true gems have slipped past the mainstream’s radar and graced fewer gamers than they could have otherwise. Twisted Metal for Playstation 3 is one such game, falling victim to all of the above.
Valentine’s Day of 2012 marked the release of a reboot for Playstation’s oldest franchise. Developers Eat Sleep Play teamed up with Sony Santa Monica in order to provide a new entry into the rather dormant vehicular combat genre. While the game didn’t fire on all cylinders, it staked a claim for being one of the best pure gaming experiences available on the multiplayer online gaming scene.
A short history of TMPS3: originally it was developed as a downloadable game on PSN only, its multiplayer being the centerpiece and really the only available way to play it. Someone at Sony saw brilliance in what the developers presented and an opportunity to expand the game to a full $60 release soon followed, a rare “tacked on” single player experience highlighting the expansion. The final product was understandably delayed while its modes were refined but eventually a full release was dropped in early 2012 to generally favorable reviews.
Twisted Metal has seen modest to dismal sales, barely eclipsing half a million worldwide in just under 18 months. David Jaffe, who was the brainchild of the IP back in 1995, left the ESP team shortly after the new game’s release on PS3. ESP themselves were slow to react to a few balance and bug issues. Marketing was a saharan dream. All of these signs pointed to a short life cycle for a game with more to offer than anyone knew.
This did nothing to avert Twisted Metal’s cult following, though, even expanding its followers to a new audience intermixed with veterans of the series. Twisted Metal Alliance (TMA) was a group formed by fans of the older incarnations of the series who continued to support it on into PS3′s iteration. So famous was this community that a trophy was named after them in the new game. Despite a general discord toward the newer Twisted Metal, many of the community’s figureheads remain avid TM players and a large portion of the group continue to play both Twisted Metal 2 and Twisted Metal Black for PC.
In the wake of TMA’s relative absence from TMPS3, a new community began to materialize through Twisted Metal’s forums at Gamefaqs and, to a lesser extent, the official Playstation forums. Eventually, the Gamefaqs boards became the place to be to discuss anything that PS3′s reboot had to offer and the members’ familiarity with one another escalated as a result. Clans were organized through there and even in the game’s matchmaking lobbies which were fully customizable right down to the name of the lobby. Yes, Twisted Metal contains the ever-popular “choose your game” matchmaking approach, an approach many gamers relish. Lobbies such as “ClanRecruiting” and “Training” served the community’s growth and provided a welcoming atmosphere that served to take some of the sting out of a rather steep learning curve with players willing to take others under their wing to help them both feel as though they are a part of something and learn basics and advanced tactical combat.
This community, although small in head count, was large in the scope and interest it garnered. It wasn’t long before these clans organized their own “league” of sorts and began taking their teams against one another in large scale clan battles, consisting of a best of 5 series of matches with preset rules that were agreed upon by the respective clan leaders. A standard set of “rules” was even universally accepted for these battles, at first featuring an answer to the few balance problems that existed in the game along with various answers to the pitfalls involved with competitive play. Eventually, those balance issues were addressed by ESP and community members were left with a mostly polished game that demanded some sort of further organization.
Enter Twisted Clans, a website dedicated to both the clan scene and general gameplay in PS3′s Twisted Metal modern cult classic. Created by one of its members quite late in the game’s life cycle, other TM diehards pitched in and built a hub for setting up clan battles and the recruiting required therein. Now, hundreds of members visit the site to feed their need for speed – well, destruction really but that didn’t rhyme – and discuss the game’s nuances and their own systems for determining who the best team is. Less focus is placed upon the actual competitive scene, though, as the pure joy of a game they all love is promoted…mostly. As with any tightly-knit community, personalities clash and disagreements are a mainstay but overall, the community thrives as a result. What good is a group that has nothing to say, anyway?
Like the greater Playstation audience, Twisted Clans has no language barrier. Though most of its members speak English as a first or second language, a Google Translate widget comes standard on all of the site’s pages so anyone can get involved. This convenience is a must considering the wide variety of players who flock there. From Norway to Spain, Australia to Arabia, almost every country is represented by at least one member. Simple navigation can lead anyone to a clan recruitment page, discussion forums, or even information about the game that serves as its own comprehensive wiki. A few clicks and Universal access is a few clicks away for anyone who happen to wander there possessing even a passing interest in one of the most enjoyable games available on any platform.
As Twisted Metal nears its 18 month of release, this community thrives, albeit in its own small corner of the internet universe. The people are what make it “home” and those people still play the game daily, sometimes exclusively on their PS3s. While many are branching out to other games, they all seem to come back to the one that brought them together and relationships continue to develop as a result. David Jaffe’s upcoming affiliated project “Autoduel” has already been earmarked for everyone’s attention as vehicular combat moves into its next phase of evolution.
Twisted Clans is a microcosm of what is happening all over the world of gaming. Constantly, communities are spawned consisting of like-minded gamers sharing in their love for a specific title or franchise, promoting a unity that transcends continents and gives rise to their own culture amid the vast scope of gaming as a whole. TC is TRG’s first community spotlight on those games that you might have missed due to lack of marketing or poor reception. Not every game has the budget that Call of Duty or Uncharted boasts and some are just as good if not better than their mainstream brethren. Players are increasingly responsible for any game’s continued support since, sometimes, only their support keeps a game alive. Twisted Metal lives on through this community.
Stay tuned to TRG for an interview with TwistedClans’ creator on Friday where we’ll discuss how the community evolved and what is in store for the future of this group of Twisted Metal diehard fans.